Mario Kart 8 for Wii U-Review


Brandon Myers @BrandoCalrysian

There are certain game series that immediately take you back to your childhood through memories of countless hours spent enjoying and mastering a game. For me, this has always been the Mario Kart series. With Mario Kart 8, Nintendo welcomes everyone’s favorite mascot racer to the HD era, and the results are pretty incredible. By building on previous games, adding new twists to the gameplay mechanics, and improving online play, this gorgeous racer proves why Mario Kart has been king of the tracks for the last 22 years.

Right from the get-go, you can notice the changes. Characters and vehicle customization parts unlock quickly, and new items like the Boomerang Flower and Piranha Plant are great additions to any racer’s repertoire. Another great new item is the Crazy 8. Eight items will spin around you and you can pick which item to use. The items include a Mushroom, a Coin, a Banana Peel, a Blooper, a Green Shell, a Red Shell, a star, and a Bob-omb. The single most welcome addition is the new Super Horn that stops the much-hated blue shell from ruining your first place finish. You have to time it just right, however, so deploy it with care.
The antigravity transformations are well implemented and can lead to some pretty impressive moments visually. While in anti-grav mode, a new mechanic is added to the race, and you have the ability to bump opposing racers for a speed boost. A bump can give your opponent a speed boost as well, so you have to find the best angle to slam into them so that you’re the only one who benefits. This is extremely satisfying when successfully implemented on a tricky turn.

The tracks themselves are a good mix of classic and new. The antigravity portions of the tracks are used just enough without overdoing it and the shortcuts can make or break your race depending on how well you use them. The item boxes and boosts are well placed which can help you make that all important comeback.

Mario Kart 8 offers several gameplay options. Local competitive play is 1-4 players with a variety of control options. The online play is much improved with up to 12 players and no noticeable lag in any of my play sessions. You have the option to play with gamers worldwide or regionally, and it’s super easy to join a game, set up tournaments, and upload videos to YouTube.

My main complaint with the online play is Nintendo’s reluctance to embrace online communication in its games. Chat is restricted to lobbies with friends only and there are no message notifications. There is no way to add a friend into a game. In 2014, it should not be this hard to enjoy an online game with friends.

Mario Kart 8 blew me away with its stunning HD graphics, breakneck speed, and variety of gameplay. While the online play may lack certain aspects of communication we are accustomed to these days, it more than makes up for it with a smooth gameplay experience. Mario Kart 8 takes the foundation of the past iterations and improves upon them in almost every way.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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