Mario Kart 7

Although it debuted in 2005, Mario Kart DS remains a favorite among players the world over, who cannot get enough of the addictive racing.

Six years later, it's time for a sequel.

Nintendo plans to release Mario Kart 3DS during the holidays, and the follow up to the critically acclaimed DS hit appears to be a worthy successor, with subtle tweaks to the classic formula.

Familiar faces return, including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad, Bowser, Yoshi and Donkey Kong; 3DS owners can even race as their Miis. This time, though, players can customize the karts, selecting different chassis, wheels (giant tires to go off road, small tires for city tracks) and gliders.

Yes, gliders, one of the game's biggest additions. Now, whenever a character flies off a ramp, a glider automatically opens, giving players a chance to sail through the air collecting coins and plotting a better landing.

On top of that, karts sport propellers while underwater, where gamers can quickly grab coins from clams threatening to snap shut at any moment.

While on the subject of locations, players can expect new tracks inspired by classic Nintendo games, such as Wii Sports Resort (WuHu Island makes an appearance) and a jungle environment from Donkey Kong Country Returns.

Other additions include speedy 60 frames per second play, making this the fastest portable Mario Kart, as well as facial expressions. Now, characters glance at opponents within range.

Of course, the usual Mario Kart conventions will make a triumphant return, like weapons (green/red turtle shells, banana peels, bloopers) and wireless multiplayer.

This, however, barely scratches the surface of what this exciting game has to offer. In the coming months, we expect Nintendo to reveal more tracks, characters and features, all of which should make Mario Kart 3DS one of the year's biggest games that we'll probably play well into 2012 and beyond.