By Christopher Medrano
It’s that time again! Time to have a great time with friends racing as your favorite Nintendo characters…and also get frustrated when you get hit by every weapon possible trying to get one more race for 3 stars. However, with how good Mario Kart 8 is, you’ll still have a great time and want to keep playing.
Now, if you’ve never played Mario Kart before,they’ve added flying and underwater racing from the 3DS version and brought back collecting coins from the Super Nintendo version (which speeds you up with the more coins collected). For this latest iteration they’ve also added hover mode, which is a really cool addition. Hover mode puts you on a flat track that you can either drive sideways on or upside down. It’s crazy when you see the parts that you’ll have to drive sideways or upside-down on, but it’s a lot of fun when the action gets going. Plus, there’s incentive to bump into people when in hover mode: you get a speed boost. You can use it to get a slight advantage over your friends…or get sent flying off the map. It’s hard to imagine what they’ll do for the next Mario Kart game.
There are also new items to use! First is the piranha plant that eats everything in front of you to eliminate items that could hurt you, take out opponents and make you a little faster. There’s an 8 item (or the infinity symbol stylized to the box art) that gives you a mushroom, red/green shell, star, squid and several other items as well. Last is the super horn, which sends a shockwave that hits your opponents and items (including the blue shell). This is huge because players have never been able to stop them; it makes racing more interesting.
The vehicles and characters are just as interesting as they’ve been in previous iterations; you can customize your car or bike by picking the body of the vehicle, tires and parachute. Only downside to this is that, while some characters have specialized customizations (like a Yoshi bike, or Bowser parachute) it would’ve been cool to have custom parts for each character you unlock.
While maintaining the core roster of characters several other additions like Pink Gold Peach (could be wrong, but this is a new character) and the Koopalings. However, there are 7 version characters and 5 baby characters which I think take away from other characters from being able to show up in the game. It would have been cool to have characters like Diddy Kong, Funky Kong, or Boo, or other characters that haven’t been in a Mario Kart game.
Overall, it would have been cool if Nintendo had mixed it up a bit with vehicle customization and characters. The plus side? The Mercedes DLC was released in Japan and at E3 it a new toy feature similar to Skylanders was announced and will be first used for Mario Kart. Hopefully that’ll add some cool new features to the mix.
The most important thing for any racing game are the tracks, and Mario Kart 8 has some amazing tracks that mix up a bunch of great new maps and remade classic maps. The only problem I have with any map is that Rainbow Road is no longer the skill challenger it once was.
Because the game is sharper in graphics thanks to the WiiU being HD, the details can be a little distracting. The music is also fun, vibrant and catchy as well making races all the more fun.
The gamepad is a little hard to use for the game and can be quite distracting. Both the map and leaderboard are on the screen for the gamepad, and it’s hard to look at while racing because there’s no map on the TV for people to see. At the same time, you can play the game on your gamepad while others might want to watch tv. That, and it has a huge horn button I had fun using since I’m easily amused.
Gameplay is fun, addicting, challenging but rewarding. The Grand Prix mode now allows you to race with friends to try and get the 3 stars. Not only does this make the races far more interesting, it’s also a great test of friendship (especially when you have to start over because everyone was trying to make the others lose). Battles are fun; the goal is to knock off all your opponents’ balloons before they knock yours off to win. They’ve added a feature where you can battle people as a ghost which adds another element to competition. However, they’ve taken away the custom maps and are forcing you to play on the regular racing maps.
Time trials are a lot of fun and provide plenty of challenge. If you can beat the staff times, you can also unlock gold wheels to gloat to your friends. Finally, with the addition of multiplayer you can test your skills against other players! I’ve heard there are problems that people have run into when trying to race online with friends; it either lags or gets hard to play. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test it since I’m the only one of my friends who has a WiiU.
If you have a WiiU Mario Kart 8 is a must buy that’s fun to play by yourself, with friends, or against people online. It’s a game that retains the spirit of its predecessors while adding new features that makes the game both fun and challenging. If you hurry and use the Club Nintendo code that comes with Mario Kart 8 by 7/31/2014, you can get either Super Mario U, Pikmin 3, Legend of Zelda HD or Wii Party U for free. Is it worth buying a WiiU to get Mario Kart 8? Yes, because the deal with the Club Nintendo code is hard to pass up, especially with the selection of great games for you to choose from. Plus it seems Nintendo is starting to release a bunch of great games, Super Smash Brothers being the main one.
I hope you liked my review. Thanks for reading! Now I have to get back to trying to earn 3 stars each race without breaking my Gamepad. Olive juice!!!