Developer: Nintendo EAD
Content Warning: This game is a clean affair that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Mario Kart 8 (MK8) is the next installment in the long line of Mario Kart games and well… it is brilliant! I have dabbled in every previous Mario Kart game besides 7, but the ones I played the most were Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart DS. Mario Kart 64 was the first game I can remember playing on consoles and it was the first I game had for my beloved N64. Since acquiring a Wii U only a week prior to Mario Kart 8, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew that there was some anti gravity stuff now but nothing really beyond that. I am happy to say that most everything was a pleasant surprise…
Chances are you have played Mario Kart at some time. If not, then what the heck are you waiting for?!?! Every system since the SNES has had a Mario Kart release and all of them (except the SNES version in my opinion) are worth playing. All of the major Mario characters have come together to race each other once again. Now, you won’t see Link or Samus like you would in Super Smash Bros however, you will see Donkey Kong, Bowser, and Peach. One notable omission was Dry Bones. I remember him being available in Mario Kart DS so the fact that he is missing here makes little sense to me. All in all there are 30 characters to race as and though there are some that feel unnecessary (baby versions for example), there is someone for everyone. The racing is as smooth as ever and whether using tilt controls or playing solely on the Gamepad, utilizing the second screen, it all works wonderfully. The new anti gravity karts happen when sometime during a track you hit a blue arrow on the road and your kart morphs like a transformer. The kart doesn’t control much differently but the way the tracks bring you up 90 degrees and down under water while hovering is simply amazing. All of the new tracks are beautifully designed as well. Just like in the most recent Mario Kart games you get a good blend of new tracks and graphically improved old tracks. My only real gripe is the absolute randomness that eliminates skill. It felt like there were far too many times when I am in first place at the end of the final lap and I get hit by a few items and wham! All of a sudden I finish 5th. I know this has always been present in Mario Kart but it seems more prevalent than ever now. Online works as well as you can expect and I did not experience any lag. Also is it just me or has battle mode really gone downhill since the days of N64? Battle mode has become racing with balloons. Quite disappointing to say the least.
Graphics and Sound
Mario Kart 8 looks fantastic! I do not mean it looks fantastic for a Wii U game, I mean it looks fantastic no matter what console you play on. The details and textures put into everything is just… insane. After each race there is an option to view a highlight reel and this is where you really see the graphics shine. During highlight reels you can watch in normal, fast, or slo-mo. Slo-mo is where you can truly see everything you missed while flying by at high speeds. The look of the karts as they enter anti gravity, Back To The Future Part II mode is a really awesome visual that also extends to the gameplay as well. I must admit that the HD makeovers of the old N64 tracks had me stunned. They felt like new tracks but yet oddly familiar. While the game may not choose the best old school tracks, it sure makes them look good. The sound and music is typical Mario Kart stuff and that is nothing bad at all. In fact it makes you feel right at home and that is a feeling we all enjoy.
Needless to say, Mario Kart 8 is a day one pick up for any Wii U owner and might I add something? If you buy MK8 and register the game at the Nintendo Club website then you will get a free download code for your choice of one Wii U game. Those games include Pikmin 3, Wind Waker HD, Game & Wario, Super Mario Bros U, NintendoLand, Sonic Lost World, The Wonderful 101, and many more!
The Bottom Line