By Ishaan . November 28, 2011 . 5:45pm
One of the additions to Mario Kart 7 is that you can take advantage of bumps on the road to gain a short burst of speed. This is done using the “R” button. Like previous Mario Kart games, you use the “R” button mainly to drift. As always, if you tap the button, your kart does a short hop off the ground. Time this hop correctly right as you go over a bump, and you’ll gain a speed boost for a second or two.
Depending on what track you’re racing on, these bumps are represented in different forms. The roots of a large tree, a log laying across the road, or simply a bumpy patch of terrain. Taking advantage of these can help during races.
Speaking of tracks, two interesting ones that have caught my attention in Mario Kart 7 are Rainbow Road and a new track called Music Park.
Rainbow Road from Mario Kart Wii.
Rainbow Road is different from how you might remember it. Instead of three laps of the same loop, it’s now one long track with new sections added to it. My first experience with Rainbow Road was an online race with some other members of the press. Since Mario Kart races can get pretty frantic, I wasn’t surprised in the least to find myself dropping off the edge of the track in Rainbow Road pretty often.
One of the new parts of Rainbow Road road has a planet (a moon?) floating under it, though. All of a sudden, the track ends, and you fall off the end. When this happened, I thought I’d missed something and would simply get reset as usual. Instead, Luigi’s kart dropped onto the planet below, littered with craters.
Similar to Super Mario Galaxy, this planet has a different gravitational force. It’s lighter than usual, and by hopping over a row of craters with the right timing, I made my kart jump into the air and it floated back down to the surface. I found this so fascinating, I turned right around and hopped across the same line of craters all over again, and then a third time. After a short distance’s drive over the planet, the rainbow-coloured track begins again.
One more thing about Rainbow Road. While you’re driving across the rainbow-coloured portion of the track early on, it begins to undulate at one point, causing subtle waves and bumps in the track. These are harder to spot than on regular tracks, but if you can figure out where the bumps are, you can use them to gain speed boosts by hopping over them.
Music Park was interesting in a similar way. This track is made up almost entirely of musical instruments. Certain portions of the track are key-based instruments like keyboards or synthesizers. Driving over them adds synthesizer or keyboard music to the track, but what’s even more interesting is that black note keys serve as “musical bumps”. Driving over these makes a sound, and hopping right as you go over one will give you a short burst of speed as well.
Since there are several of these in a row, you can pick up a fair bit of speed if you’re good enough to hop over them all with the right timing. In fact, right after one of these strips of track are a few regular speed boost pads that you can drive over to gain yet another burst of speed. This is pretty tricky, though, and it’s easy to bump into walls while attempting it.
A little further down the Music Park track, you’ll find creatures like the Slimes from Dragon Quest, except they’re black and shaped like musical notes. These things are pretty heavy, and they jump up and down on the track constantly. When they land, they cause a small bump and make every kart nearby bounce off the ground. You can use this as an opportunity to gain speed, too. Doing a hop at just the moment your kart bounces off the ground will make you gain speed.
If you’re good enough, you can do this at least a couple of times before you’ve passed by them all. If you’re really good, you can learn to listen for the sound they make as they jump, and then try to time your hop correctly with their landing, even if you can’t see them. Doing this will allow one extra burst of speed while you’re still within their range, even after you’ve passed by them. It’s little tricks like these that can turn the tide in your favour.