The 8th iteration of the innovative Nintendo racer is finally here! Is it the key piece of software Nintendo desperately needs to expand its userbase footprint. We examine and give the low down on the game that could get Nintendo back in the race for sales.
Fresh around E3. Where every gamers is standing to attention and has an ear to the ground, eye to the screen and web streams. Mario Kart 8 hit the shelves worldwide delivering an experience that made gamers coo in love once again for the franchise. Bright, exhilarating and most importantly in these days of super serious modern military shooters and photo realism…is fun!
Mario Kart is a solid favourite with a release on each Nintendo platform for now 22 years since the first release. Mario Kart 8 features 16 cracking new tracks and 16 re-imagined Mario Kart circuits from its history enter the fray. Tweaked power ups and new faces on the character screen.
Control is versatile! You can play Mario Kart anyway you want to. WiiU Gamepad using the responsive gamepad buttons and analogue sticks, there is an instant option on screen to use the Gamepad much like a steering wheel with motion control. Talking of steering wheels you can whip out your Wii-mote and use your WiiWheel. Turn your Wii-mote sideways use it like a NES-Controller. For my preference I use the Wii-mote Nunchuk combo. On screen feels just as versatile with Karts and bikes. From Mario Kart 7 comes hang gliding of which calculated jumps can be glided getting crucial seconds of better speed over a driving nemesis. Nintendo brings innovation to Mario Kart 8 with seamless transition to anti-gravity! Track continue and fork along walls. Vertically and upside down! No fear disorientation does not occur, the camera stay firmly with our racer. Visual spectacular moments as Cloudtop Cruise drifting and snaking along clouds, through a storm of Bowser flying fortress cannon equipped flying ships into a spinning dark cloud where the atmosphere and tempo kick in hard with a heavy metal rendition of the Mario theme only to be shot through a cannon. Dropping out of a cargo aircraft onto a mountain slalom for Wario Mountain. Vertically cruising up a waterfall only to ride back down a second waterfall in Shy Guy Falls is a treat to be met only with sheer glee. All at a solid and smooth 60fps.
Music is an element missed in many of the reviews of Mario Kart 8. The audio is superb! Mario melodies as you know stick with you forever. On investigation I discovered all the music was recorded live. Each track has a different focused main instrument taking the stage ranging from flute, saxophone, electric guitar. The haunting organ for Twisted Mansion genuinely is spine tingling. There is this shine and polish on their work that no one else manages to touch.
Karts are also customizable with a variety of unlockable wheels, kart/bike chassis and glide mechanisms… including kites, gliders and even clouds! A quick tap of the + button you can see how your racer fares across acceleration, overall speed. weight, grip and handling. Your Mii makes a welcome return as a character from Mario Kart Wii. You will have to experiment to find your best combinations. Each of the characters having strengths and weaknesses, coupled with customizable karts/bikes you are sure to find your calling and discover your favourites.
Famously each Mario Kart course is replete with its secrets and shoutcuts offering players sneaky ways to get ahead, often high risk/high reward. There is much to discover tucked away it is not unknown for the dedicated to break out time trial mode and race the course backwards just to discover the subtleties and where to exploit their racing advantages when it comes to multiplayer!
As you take on those who’ve come over for a Saturday night gamefest or you’ve gone head-first to take on the global gamers of the Nintendo Network. Many new item and weapons pick ups have been added! Most players will agree getting hit with the Blue Shell when out in front is a ‘moment’ in gaming. Being simultaneously satisfying feel if you have now managed to inch ahead for the win or the huge pang of frustration often accompanied by a ‘Noooooooo’! If you were the one struck by the aforementioned blue shell! After 8 titles there is now a defense called the Super Horn, sending out a shockwave hitting all those nearby and can destroy the Blue shell!
2 other items feature; The Piranha Plant which homes and chomps in on nearby rivals and items. Coupled with Boomerang allowing 3 throws of the Aussie stick. Also Mario Kart 8 brings back a feature from much earlier titles ‘Coins’. Along the courses are scattered coins for collection. Which offer a form of strategic play albeit one which is rarely noticed and has thousands of forums posting asking ‘What do the coins do in Mario Kart 8?’ For a split second on pick up they provide a boost, watch your karts exhaust. You can collect up to 10 at a time, every time you are hit, fall off the track or are recovering – the amount goes down with the coins acting like a buffer of your recovery time! More coins equals faster recovery! There is enough for everyone as coins and floating items boxes respawn almost instantly.
Online is where charm continues – single races, tournament and battles featuring up to 12 players. Battle mode is something of a mis-step in Mario Kart 8. As battle does not occur in Battle mode arenas. Instead on courses. As a result there is less conflict and everyone is racing back and forth. Not to mention the anti-gravity sections of the courses of the removed.
Mario Kart 8 improves on its predecessors and does so with grace in gameplay and visual splendour.
Truly a fest for the eyes and exciting to play. Inspires the ‘just one more race’ mentality.
With the WiiU over the course of the last few months being removed from stores, huge knock downs to sell through stock. Mario Kart 8 is an arrow in the quiver for Nintendo. Record numbers of WiiU being sold due to Mario Kart alone and if reports are to understood correctly there has been a 600% increase in the UK alone according to industry figures.
Lets hope it is not a great title to late. Nintendo has been hammering home that value of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros as its homerun going into 2015.