Mario Kart 8 review

  • Game: Mario Kart 8
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Genre: Racing

Mario and friends have taken their karting fun into the world of HD for the first time on Nintendo’s last console the Wii U.

I’ve got the game, I’ve been playing it, so what do I think?

I really really like Mario Kart 8, it is probably the Mario Kart game I’ve enjoyed most since Mario Kart 64 but it’s not without its faults.

Let’s begin by getting the bad points out-of-the-way first.

The battle mode.

There are no arena’s in which to battle anymore. Instead the battles now take place on the actual Grand Prix tracks, 8 of them to be exact. There are a few additional parts opened up in areas, and of course you can drive around the track backwards to hunt people down.

The problem is you now spend more time driving around looking for people than you actually do battling them. It can get quite boring.

The map

What doesn’t help is that there is no longer a map on-screen to help you locate where everyone is. Unless you are lucky enough to be playing with a Wii U gamepad and fancy keep looking down constantly to check.

The anti-gravity

Yep, that’s right, one of Mario Kart 8’s big selling points I’m listing in the bad. With how much its been hyped up and talked about I was hoping/expecting a lot more.

The anti-gravity doesn’t really do anything. Yes you can drive on the walls, the ceiling, and it allows for some interesting track designs but the camera angle and the feel of the driving doesn’t change so you never really notice a change in the gravity.

A change of camera angle to highlight the fact you are now driving upside down or driving up a vertical wall would have been nice. Or have the karts and bikes feel different when in anti-gravity mode.

That’s the bad  points, now onto the good.

The tracks

There are a total of 32 tracks. 16 brand spanking new tracks and 16 classic ones that have been touched up and altered in places to take advantage of the gliding, underwater, and anti-gravity mechanics.

Although, I’m sure the N64 track, Yoshi’s Valley, has been made somewhat easier. I remember it being rather easy to fall off the course with a ground floor area you had to navigate to find your way back up top.

The most interesting track by far is Mount Wario, a downhill ski like course where there are checkpoints instead of laps as you race down the mountain.

Items

The core part of any Mario Kart game is the items/weapons and there are some really good ones. It is now possible to defend yourself against the evil Blue Shell thanks to the Super Horn, a somewhat rare item that you drop when hit by lightning.

Other new items include a boomerang that can hit multiple people when thrown and a piranha plant that sticks to the front of your kart biting anyone or anything that comes near you, it also provides a handy little speed boost every time it lunge’s forward.

When you aren’t doing too well in a race you might get lucky and get your hands on the Crazy 8, 8 items that will circle you as you use them, one after the other.

Although be careful just like if you drive into someone when you have banana’s or shell’s circling you it will affect them, so if you drive into someone when you have mushroom’s or a star circling you, your opponent will get the benefit of them. I lost a star that way and ended up coming 3rd in a race.

Kart customisation

There is also a limited kart customisation available once you select your character. You can customise the actual kart (or bike), the wheels, and the glider, with each affecting the stats (speed, acceleration, grip, handling, and weight).

HD graphics

For the first time Mario and all his karting buddies are in glorious HD and it makes the game look great. The attention to detail is impressive, the hair of some of the racers will dangle when you are driving along ceiling’s like Princess Peaches’ ponytail.

The HD graphics really help some of the tracks standout. Both Rainbow Roads and the Electrodome look particularly stunning with lots of vibrant colours.

Music

The music for the tracks are brilliant and they all fit the track they are designed for. They are so catchy in fact that I sometimes find myself humming along to them as I race.

Controls

For the controls there are two choices, motion control where you tilt the gamepad or wiimote like an actual steering-wheel, or the classic joystick control, both of which work well and are responsive.

Conclusion

Mario Kart 8 is a beautifully looking, brilliantly sounding, really fun game. The Mario Kart formula isn’t broken so there’s no need for a radical overhaul and Nintendo know that.  Instead they have just slowly added one new feature a game at a time. And it works.

Green thumb

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