Mario Kart is a classic and a game that is accessible to any kind of crowd, from the hardcore gamers to the casual players. More than anything it is a perfect game for hanging out with friends: bringing us together (or tearing us apart) in any occasion, from after-school chills to midnight parties. Not only is this a good game, it also usually manages to get successful commercially and critically with every new addition to the series, no matter what medium is chosen to play it, from the Super Nintendo to the Wii U.
Nintendo’s latest addition to the Mario Kart series came out as they were launching their latest console as well, the Wii U, with Mario Kart 8 in 2014. What new features and exclusivities is the game binging to the table compared to its predecessors? What did they take out that they probably shouldn’t have?
The biggest revolution about Mario Kart 8 and one that definitely made it stick out compared to the former opuses is its anti-gravity aspect. Now doted of completely new wheels working on any surface at any angle, the characters can get on the walls, climb roads that are straight up U-turns or even race completely upside down. Though not every circuit uses the anti- gravity feature, it is a nice addition and the best move Nintendo could make to make such a universally loved game fresh again.
With that new anti-gravity features comes another new ability, which appears inside of the menu in the kart-building workshop: the ability to fly. You can now pick a glider from a flower to a squirrel. These new elements do not only create some fun combinations and strategies in order to cross the finish line first but it also makes for some really interesting new circuits that are a blast to race on.
Mario Kart 8 manages to remix some of their classics and put on a (literal) twist on them. Whether this is the classic Mario Circuit or the Haunted House, the new head-turning abilities mixed with some killer graphics and sometimes fun and epic elements (we’ll particularly appreciate the giant Bowser made of fire in the villain’s updated volcano-mansion) make for a very fun game to reveal and explore. The Mario universe comes to life beautifully to its players and doesn’t disappoint bringing us new things without being too unfamiliar. Even the rainbow road gets a shocking new twist.
Of course the anti-gravity is not the only things that makes the circuits feel new and different. They each feature gorgeous graphics, fun music and will remix old themes which will make some of them look both familiar and fresh. As usual we are getting circuits from the precedent games and exclusivities. A few circuits will be linear instead of coming round back to the beginning, which creates a new dynamic for the race, others will get a complete makeover.
Online Mode makes it’s return in Mario Kart 8
If you own the Wii version of the series, you might be mourning the loss of the online feature and the community of fans that came along with it around the same time this game came out. Thankfully Mario Kart 8 does revive this option and the possibility to have an online race on your own or with a friend, even allowing you to host your own events or film your exploits and share it online. Being able to play Mario Kart competitively at any time around the world is one of my favourite aspects of the game and enables you to have many different experiences of playing. This option is however not as complete as the former one when it comes to communications. Less chatting options make for a lesser social community than it used to be, the conversations are restricted and our characters mostly introduce themselves with a small number of prepared sentences.
Though a really fun game of quality that makes an amazing addition to the series, Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U is not 100% safe from any criticism. It is a really fun race game though it could benefit from fixing a few drifting issues that take a while to get around and get used too, specifically while using your classic Wii Remote. Any new game will have an adaptation phase, however a few players have complained about a few difficulties taking turns and sharp angles.
Moreover, while most circuits for races are perfect, it is with great shame that the battles do not benefit from great areas and are instead happening in those same circuits, adapted this time to the game of choice.
Though the kart building feature of the game make it a great way to control the different aspects of your vehicle (you can now pick up your own wheels), it also suffers from a smaller variety of karts. Most (but not all) Baby vehicles becoming the small version of the bigger ones as opposed to having personalised karts and motorcycles adapted to each size. Still the karts stay true to themselves, displaying fun and humorous designs as you unlock each of them.
Mario Kart 8 is not 100% perfect but it comes to a great close. This video game definitely proves that Nintendo is able to continually release good content and surprise us instead of just giving us the same gimmicks through each of their new game stations. The game is very exciting and most definitely a very immersive experience for any fan. This is a total blast that will make your friends want to come back.
• Beautiful graphics
• Great for all gamers
• Online Mode is back
• Kart builder
• Less online features than before