Remember when we did "Because VIDEOGAMES" (here), when we all took a moment out of our days to appreciate that videogames are pretty amazing? Well, I feel like it's been way too long since then, and I'm sure we all have new things to be excited about. Come to think of it, it's been way too long since I blogged, period. So let's fix that.
For me, that new thing is definitely Mario Kart 8. Goddamn it's so much fun. I really enjoy the anti-gravity mechanic, the visuals and music are great and overall it's just nice simple racing goodness. It's been ages since I played a Mario Kart and I'm not even sure if I've ever owned one before, but the new one has been worth every penny already. So what better game is there to take the first steps in delivering more excitement?! None.
And with that, let's see if we can kickstart some "Because [INSERT VIDEOGAME HERE]" excitement, with my 5 favorite new tracks in Mario Kart 8, and perhaps next week I'll follow it up with my 5 favorite retro tracks.
"But Shade, I want to hear about the things you hate about videogames! I feed off nerdrage and the tears of the fanboy! Surely even Mario Kart 8 can't be all good?"
Oh alright, fine. I know how to deal with jaded Internet assholes. The WiiU's messaging system sucks a fat one so it's hard to get your friends to join a game, the roster is severely lacking, and Blue Shells still ruin your day if you don't have a Super Horn.
There. You happy now? Then let's get to the fun part!
5 New Mario Kart 8 Tracks I'm Excited About First things first, what does it take for a track to get me excited? Three things, for the most part: visuals, music and fun. None of these should come as any surprise. It's been duly noted by pretty much everyone that Mario Kart 8 looks amazing, I mention my love for video game music all the fucking time, and fun just speaks for itself. Any stage that manages to combine all of these aspects is almost guaranteed a Top 5 spot, but even having one of the three can be amazing in its own right.
See for yourself!
- 5. Mario Circuit
I can't think of a better stage that exemplifies what Mario Kart 8 is about than Mario Circuit, the first course in the Flower Cup. Its design is based off of a Möbius strip which twists and turns all around Peach's castle. While the course itself is fairly straightforward, I find it to be a lot of fun. The track transitions from being upside-down to rightside-up seamlessly, so you'll barely notice that anything's amiss until you're cruising straight past the castle tower which may or may not be obeying the laws of physics. Definitely a nice touch from a visual standpoint there. There's a good reason why this track was chosen for the game's cover art: Mario Circuit isMario Kart 8.
But the main reason I enjoy this track so much? I smoke people here. I don't know what it is about this track, but it feels fast. My main character at the moment is what I like to call Shooting Star Rosalina. I use Rosalina on the Comet Bike with Cyber Slick wheels and one of the gliders that ups acceleration. This gives her great top speed, decent acceleration, weight and handling, but terrible traction (what does traction even do, though?). Let me tell ya, she's right at home on Mario Circuit. Nice long stretches to put her top speed to work, and the few turns you have to make are just wide enough to smoothly drift along the inside. Lots of fun all around!
- 4. Bowser’s Castle
I used to hate Bowser's Castle in earlier Mario Kart games. I remember doom and gloom, annoying 90-degree corners, and everything trying to kill you everywhere all the time. Fortunately, the latest installment of the dreaded fortress is much better this time around.
It might be less colorful than the other tracks in the game, but it's as fun to race in as any, with obstacles that are actually cool this time around. Take another look at that picture above and tell me that a giant flaming stone Bowser Golem thing punching the track isn't epic as balls.
It also has pretty damn bitchin' music if you ask me.
So, Bowser? I know you like renovating and all, but please try not to change too much for our next go, alright? Your place is great just the way it is.
- 3. Electrodrome
Electrodrome is quite possibly my favorite track in the game from a visuals point of view. Which kinda sucks, because it's incredibly difficult to capture in screenshots. Youtube to the rescue!
There's a lot of neat touches to this level that are hard not to appreciate. From the neon everywhere to the giant disco balls and boomboxes along the tracks, the rainbow trail your kart leaves behind on certain parts, and the NPCs "groovin' to da beat" (that is a thing that people say, right?), it all comes together to make a wonderful themed stage. This being a disco-level, due attention was obviously also paid to the music, which is both a lot of fun and fitting with the theme.
But now that we're getting to my Top 3 favorite new tracks in Mario Kart 8, a track will have to do more than just be visually and musically interesting to earn its spot here. Fortunately, Electrodrome is also quite fun to play indeed, and another nice example of a track where Shooting Star Rosalina is at her best. Corners that are just tight enough, anti-gravity bump boost thingamajigs (<-side note: Word actually knows "thingamajig" and even has synonyms for it. What the shit) scattered all over the place, and enough opportunities to stretch that top speed to its limit, for Electrodrome you can keep those silly low weight class characters to yourself.
- 2. Sunshine Airport
Admittedly, I have no idea whatsoever how Mario & crew got permission to host kart races at an active airport. I imagine the paperwork must've been horrendous. Still, I'm glad they persevered, because Sunshine Airport is one of the most fun stages in the game. And be honest, if in real life you could race at an airport, wouldn't you do it too?
There are quite a few things that make this stage my second favorite stage in Mario Kart 8, but the most important ones all stem from the "active airport" bit. Not even 10 seconds into the first lap you're already driving underneath a Boeing 747 decorated with Mario imagery, and not 10 seconds afterwards you get to drive across a plane's left wing, through its body and out at the other side. Additional planes come and go in the background, and some will look like they just barely missed you. Very cool. But one of my favorite things is actually far more simple, and that's the sweet little shortcut you can take if you drive straight across the luggage conveyors at the very end. You skip a turn and get a trick boost as a bonus, at least as long as you don't slam your face into someone's suitcase!
Ah, Mount Wario. Without a doubt my favorite track in the game, and not just from the new ones. First of all, I really like the setup here. This is the only stage in the game where you're not driving around in a lap but have a single long course with a distinct beginning and end. And when said beginning is inside a helicopter and said end is all the way down at the bottom of a mountain, it becomes even more fun!
I like this stage a lot in that you're always driving at a downwards angle: it gives a nice sense of speed and a feeling that you're getting somewhere new. Along the way there are lots of other cool things to do as well. You get to drive on waterfalls, through a cave, you get to do tricks on fallen trees and snow hills, and you get to slalom through gates that must have been left-overs from Mario's run in the winter Olympics. The final approach to the finish line, where you're gliding off of a huge slope, is especially satisfying (if you're in first place doubly so), and it's neat that you can wait for the other players to arrive after you've finished rather than just watching the CPU make a mess of your victory run.
And the music? Why, inspired by Super Mario 3D World of course!
In fact, "greatness" is what I would use to describe almost all of Mario Kart 8's new stages. Like I said, I'm not exactly on expert on this series, so I'm not sure how the good-to-bad ratio was in previous games, but for the most part this game nails it. Water Park with its giant underwater O-turn, Cloudtop Cruise based on Mario Galaxy's Gusty Garden, Sugar Rush Sweet Sweet Canyon ripped straight out of Wreck-it Ralph, Shy Guy Falls making you drive up and down waterfalls, the new Rainbow Road's sweet-ass satellites, all of it is fun. I think the only stage I actively dislike is Dolphin Shoals, but even that's more because I suck at it than anything else.
As for the retro stages, lots of great stuff here too, but maybe I'll save that for later. It does need saying though that Royal Raceway looks absolutely fucking gorgeous in this game. What with all the flowers and everything? The WiiU can do some sweet visuals if it puts its mind to it.
These were once again just a couple of things I was excited about. Why? Because MARIO KART!
Video games are still amazing, fun, exciting and all the other good stuff. So what have all of you been playing? Are you excited Because MORTAL KOMBAT, Because DARK SOULS II, Because WATCH_DOGS, or something else? Or perhaps, of course, just Because VIDEOGAMES?! Let me know in blog or comment, because I love reading all about it!
In the mean time, me and Shooting Star Rosalina are going to be found on the tracks.
- Goddammit Yoshi, stop checking out Rosalina; she's not even the same species! Hell, you're barely humanoid!
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About ShadeOfLightone of us since 7:43 AM on 07.16.2010
On the wings of death, by the hands of doom;
By the darkest light from the darkest moon;
On the wings of life, by the hands of hope;
By the brightest light from the brightest sun.
And vice versa.
I'm a Dutch lawyer who loves to play the vidya. I'm a Nintendo-fanboy at heart, but I don't feel that I'm blinded by that, at least not very often. I am also currently on the Cblog Recaps team for Thursdays, so if for some voyeuristic reason you want to know more about me, check out my weekly Shadeisms.
I'm obsessed with the Monolith Soft RPGs Xenoblade Chronicles and the Baten Kaitos series. I will not pass up the opportunity to mention them, ever, and I consider myself Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean's biggest fan. Xenoblade Chronicles X also knocked my socks off.
The WiiU is one of my favorite systems of all time, and my favorite games on this system include, but are most certainly not limited to;
New Super Mario Bros. U
Mighty Switch Force: Hyper Drive Edition
Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
Super Mario 3D World
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Mario Kart 8
Super Smash Bros. WiiU
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Yoshi's Woolly World
Xenoblade Chronicles X
And on the Nintendo front, let's not forget the 3DS I've had since early 2014! Like, say:
Super Smash Bros. 3DS
The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Fire Emblem Awakening
Super Mario 3D Land
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright
Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies
Code of Princess
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Virtue's Last Reward
Apart from Nintendo, I'm a huge indie game enthousiast. Give me a game like Trine, VVVVVV, Sequence or Recettear, and you've made me a happy camper for sure. You can keep your shooters to yourself.
Favorite indie game round-up:
Trine (+ Trine 2)
Super Meat Boy
The Binding of Isaac
Dungeons of Dredmor
Thomas Was Alone
Mark of the Ninja
Cthulhu Saves the World
Recettear - An Item Shop's Tale
To The Moon
Orcs Must Die! 2
The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom
Ori and the Blind Forest
and many, many more!
Besides gaming itself, I like reading up on gaming-related news on my favorite website in the whole wide world: Destructoid. I love all the people here, and I'm glad that I get to be a part of this. Wouldn't know what to do without you!