It's finally here! Every new console release we get from Nintendo we can expect a Mario Kart and this time is no different with Mario Kart 8 launching for the Nintendo Wii U. Following its predecessor from the 3DS (Mario Kart 7), Mario Kart 8 goes for the follow up title in sequential order rather than having a name (Super Circuit, Double Dash) or implying the name of the system it is on (Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart DS). Like every new Mario Kart, new items, along with new characters, and of course new tracks are introduced, as well as the remake of some of the "classics" spanning from previous Mario Kart generations.
Considering Mario Kart is not really the most normal of games I'm gonna change up my style for this review as I include my impressions as well.
Mario Kart 8 has plenty good and this game will definitely keep you addicted for a long time and I'm not even talking about the legendary couch co-op/friends over play! From the once again flawless online play (hello Mario Kart Wii and 7), unlockable new characters, vehicle customization's, and the new highlights system, Mario Kart 8 provides more fun than just racing in a prix by yourself. The real joy from this comes from the Mario Kart TV/highlights system because it brings the best moments of each race to life and let's you constantly relive them. Mario Kart TV is broken down into your last 12 races and your 6 favorite highlights and span from 30, 45, 60 seconds, or if you want the entire race! You can also focus on other players besides yourself and change what you want the "action" of each highlight to be; with examples on awesome drifts rather than you destroying someone with shells. Nintendo also decided to up their game on the sharing factor as not only Miiverse can receive the video highlights you decide to share, but you can upload them directly to YouTube for everyone!
For those of you worried about the gameplay of Mario Kart 8 because of its anti-gravity than don't! MK8 transitions to the anti-gravity segments perfectly, making it seem like it's been part of Mario Kart all along. The anti-gravity areas also bring an emphasis on drifting as well as hidden boosts to add to the fun!
If you haven't even seen a screenshot of Mario Kart 8 then you certainly are missing out on one of its best points and that's it graphics and its music. Mario Kart 8 is just gorgeous to look out and each level is a stunning beauty that just makes you look at the Mario universe in glamor. Worlds we've seen growing up in full HD just go on to show how amazing the Mario universe is. Music once again has that same Mario Kart flair; making playing the game on mute almost a crime in itself. Tracks you are almost bound to fall instantaneously in love with are: The Electrodome, Thwomp Ruins, CloudTop Cruise, and Toad Harbor.
As much good as there is in Mario Kart 8, there is just as much bad. First off, the characters/roster is bit underwhelming in that the only new characters we get our the Bowser Kids (excluding Bowser Jr) and a very unwanted new character Metal Pink Peach (or whatever she is called). The diversity we saw in Mario Kart Wii with Diddy and Funky are gone and we are left with characters who don't have as big an image in the Mario/Nintendo Universe. Next up, would have to be the underwhelming tracks and bad remake tracks. While I did mention a few great tracks, the number of great tracks doesn't match the number of good or even alright tracks. Many of the tracks in Mario Kart 8 feel a bit...too monotonous; being that most areas just feel the same with different backgrounds. It makes the tracks become a bit predictable, though I still think it takes some time to learn each track individually.
The remakes is where I have the most hate because of Mario Kart 8 and its infatuation with Mario Kart 64, one of the series worsts. In addition, the courses chose couldn't have been more boring as we have Sherbet Land, Toad's Turnpike, and Grumble Volcano. But my problem with the remakes comes in the fact that some of the courses have changed a bit, to adapt to the new anti-gravity and: A- I don't believe they were designed well and B- changing a retro course doesn't make it the same, it makes itself an entirely new course! Few courses did the change right (like the DKCR Mario Kart 7 level as it didn't change it that much) but if you look at a level like Rainbow Road Mario Kart 64 (or Sherbet Land) you can see the change and it really doesn't make it feel the same.
The last things I wanted to talk about, for the bad, in Mario Kart 8 is the difficulty of the game and a bit of about the Mario Kart TV. Apparently, once again Nintendo did a Skyward Sword and ruined a part of the game listening to outside fans or the internet forums and decided to nerf the Blue Shell and classic Mario Kart punishments. The Blue Shell, doesn't appear as much (it did appear a lot in MK7 I do agree but I didn't mind) and the damage/punishment time it has is gone as you have the same effect as getting hit by a Red Shell, rather than being blown upwards and having to recover your speed. In addition, falling off the track, could not be more user-friendly as Lakitu comes to save you in no-time flat, ridding the Black Screen, as well as the free boost Lakitu gives you from the drop (if timed correctly). In one point, I feel off only to be saved right away and maintain my position in a race, that's not what Mario Kart is about! Falling off usually means losing a lot of time and your position, but apparently MK8 doesn't think so. Lastly, apparently Nintendo wants everyone to get a 3-star ranking because the only requirements for it are to come in 1st place in all your races, compared to the old games where that wasn't merely enough.
The gripe I had with Mario Kart TV is just that you cannot control the camera angles for the replays, sometimes giving off awkward camera positions, or the not the greatest of angles for your highlights. Another problem with this is the fact you can Slo-mo while looking at highlights yet when you upload something, it is just the straight highlight, with no option to slow-mo the best parts of your highlight!
EDIT: Deraj reminded me of getting rid of the two item hold which really changes the game. I honestly don't like it and it takes away the advantage the lead racers have especially in the 12-man races we have because being in fist or second we only get one banana or 2 coins (which doesn't protect) and leaves you more vulnerable to more attacks! This stupid ode to Dobule Dash way of holding items is a reason why we can only hold one item but guess what THERE AREN'T TWO DRIVERS FOR TWO ITEMS!
Mario Kart 8 is an awesome game, though it doesn't reach the level of Mario Kart DS, Mario Kart Wii or Mario Kart 7. The game is a gorgeous game to look at and once again brings friends and family together for an awesome experience, but it is missing that secret touch. It may come to me months after writing this review, like it did for me in my "I can't stop playing Mario Kart 7 online" but for now, it is one of the more basic entries in the franchise. Needless to say this still is a must-buy game for any Wii U owner.
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Hey what's up guys my name is Michael Troina. Future GameInformer or IGN editor
I am a hardcore avid video game player, I love watching anime and reading manga.
My full walkthrough/playthrough's are found on my youtube account here
Youtube page I am also an athlete I play baseball, basketball, and football; I appear sometimes on my friends college sports radio show
I also blog a LOT (I'll put the links below) ranging from myIGN video game blog to my just Kingdom Hearts blog.
The systems I own are: SNES, N64, Gameboy-GBA, DS lite, PSP, Wii, Xbox 360, Dreamcast, GameGear, SEGA Genesis, PS1-3, Gamecube.
My favorite series/games are: Legend of Zelda, Super Mario (Bros 3 is the best but all the games), Sonic the Hedgehog, Final Fantasy IX, Uncharted, Marvel vs Capcom 2, Banjo-Tooie, Phoenix Wright, and Kingdom Hearts
Favorite animes: Code Geass, Gundam SEED, Durarara!!, Fairy Tail, Bleach, DragonBall Z
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