The Lucky 7 should be the most powerful power-up in Mario Kart history. It gives you seven items - shells, bananas - the works - and you can use them in any order you want, too. But the reality is, it's like having a bob-omb strapped to your waist. Because you do. And a blooper. And a star that's ready to grand invincibility to anyone nearby who stumbles into it.
Blagging the Lucky 7 is like having a world of potential circling around your feet, but it'll make you neurotic and anxious and you'll likely end up running your kart off the road in blind panic. From a psychological standpoint, it's one of the most fascinating power-ups we've ever seen in a game.
All three items are quite unlike anything Mario Kart has seen before, and they're welcome additions. The weapon balance needed a proper, meaningful refresh and Mario Kart 7 finally gives us exactly that.
The package is rounded off with the usual window dressing. The time trial portion of the game looks like it'll be a particularly compelling competition this time around, thanks to robust online leaderboards and kart customisation options which allow you to mix and match the various car chassis and wheels - a process which we found made it easier for us to break down and digest exactly how our choice of carriage was affecting our lap times.
The Battle Mode continues to be marginalised, but at least it's not exclusively a team-based affair anymore - now it's a competition to see who can score the most hits in an allotted time limit. Hardly the Mario Kart 64 glory days, but we can see ourselves playing it a lot more than the semi-disastrous offerings on DS and Wii.
It's hard to single out any real criticism of a game that does what it sets out to as assuredly as Mario Kart 7. (Aside from one very un-Nintendo moment in Alpine Pass, where the camera angle makes it difficult to determine where the falling boulders are coming from. It's immensely frustrating in a way Nintendo games usually manage to avoid being).
Any perceived flaws that the game has are the flaws Mario Kart has always had, and MK7 embraces the shortcomings as eagerly as it does any other part of the series' heritage. Is it a bit on the easy side? A little. The 50cc and 100cc races are still boringly easy, and although victory is never a given in 150cc, it feels like the difficulty level stops about another 50cc too early.
Is it a tad unfair in places? A lot. Although it never reaches Mario Kart Wii levels of chaos, the weapons are still there primarily to disrupt the natural order of things. Skill can overcome misfortune nine times out of ten, but an untimely blue shell will always prove fatal if encountered in the final furlong.
But you know what? That's okay. Because you'll have to go a long way to find another racer on any format that works as hard for your £35 than Mario Kart 7 and its endless carousel of joyful, inventive frivolity. We've got a new favourite Mario Kart, and all roads point to you having one, too.
As complete a racing game as you could hope to play. All that's good about the previous Karts, distilled and mixed with a trillion ideas of its own. Excellent.