Nintendo are known to stick to their established repertoire of video games. A collection of titles that over the last 30 years have grown and shaped themselves into what they are today. While Microsoft and Sony slug it out against one an other with million dollar blockbuster AAA titles, Nintendo continue to plod along doing their own thing. Mario Kart 8 is no exception.
Being the latest series to be given the Wii U HD make over, it strives to breath to a bit of life into a ‘next gen’ console that already seems to be fading. In hopes of boosting console sales worldwide, Mario Kart 8 has finally arrived!
First thing to notice is how gorgeous it looks. Like Pikmin 3 and Super Mario 3D world before it, the HD treatment that the Wii U gives to Mario Kart 8 is stunning. Nintendo games have never looked better and this is no exception. Crisp, clear and a solid 60fps, with the added bonus of super short loading times, it’s easy to fall in love with how aesthetically pleasing this entry is.
Gameplay wise its spot on. Mechanically sound and silky smooth controls give this game a fantastic feel, especially for those who maybe don’t play competitive games very often. The driving is great and the karts handle responsively. Power ups and weapons are a huge part like in previous games. The new weapons for in well with the old and the new ‘Crazy 8’ power that gives you eight different weapons is insane.
The game also has a better difficulty curve. The 50cc class is very easy, perfect for newbies or younger gamers, while experts will find the 150cc races both difficult and rewarding. The rubber band effect that was predominant in the older games has also been dumbed down, making it much harder to shoot up from 12th to 1st in a matter of seconds. The character roster has changed quite a bit. While fan favourites such as King Boo and Diddy Kong have left, newcomers such as Rosalina from the Galaxy game and the Koopalings from Super Mario World are a fun addition. The excessive number of Baby characters is also rather disappointing as these slots could have been used for more well known characters.
The sixteen new tracks that were built for Mario Kart 8 are some of the best in the series. From underwater mazes and deep jungle to an SSX like run down a blizzard hit mountain, all corners of the mushroom kingdom are covered. The other sixteen tracks included are reworks of classic tracks that featured in every game from the original on the SNES to the latest on 3DS. The new ‘gimmick’ in this outing is the anti gravity parts of the courses. Hitting an anti gravity pad causes your kart to float just above ground level and around some truly crazy corners loops and corkscrews. This has also been added to the classic tracks and looks fantastic as your flying over the top of your opponents.
Multiplayer is still at it’s best when played with four players on couch co-op split screen. As with the earlier games you just can’t beat that feeling. The online mode however works great. As with a couple of other recent titles it seems like Nintendo are finally getting to grips with the online portion of their games. Twelve players at once is both chaotic and fun, especially if your opponents are on your Nintendo Network friends list, which is required to be able to voice chat. The disappointing aspect is Battle Mode. Rather than have specially created tracks for this game type, the refusal tracks are used. This is awkward as these tend to be very large compared to the classic style battle maps. This makes the games last a lot longer and you can spend ages circling a track till you find your opponent.
Overall it’s a solid entry into a franchise that doesn’t do anything greatly innovative, but perfects what it has always done since it’s inception. While it probably won’t shift as many units as the Wii entry, it seems to selling well for the number Wii U consoles out in the wild. It’s not the saviour that the Wii U is looking for but it’s a damn good Mario Kart game. Oh and if you buy a copy and register it on Your Club Nintendo account by July 31st you get a free downloadable Wii U title, so it’s worth getting it now!