Release Date: May 31, 2014Platform: Wii UDeveloper: NintendoPublisher: NintendoGenre: Racing
It’s finally here! After a couple of delays, Mario Kart 8has finally hit retail shelves just in time for us to sit inside all summer long and explore the great indoors. If you’re like me, Mario Kart 8was the sole reason you bought a Wii U in the first place because, well, kart-racing in high def sounds pretty damn awesome. But does the game live up to the high expectations set by Nintendo?
Yes. Absolutely. Mario Kart 8has very few flaws. In fact, I found only one minor annoyance, and just to get it out of the way, it is that more often than not while in a Grand Prix race you’ll get the coin power-up, which is basically useless–like handing a knife to Edward Scissorhands.
But with that very minor flaw aside, the game is a much needed achievement by Nintendo. For one, it looks absolutely gorgeous. Each track has its own flavor and looks great, and runs without any graphical hiccups. The tracks from Mario Kart’s past iterations–such as Donut Plains 3 from SNES or Royal Raceway from N64–are taken to an awe-inspiring visual level. This provides for some great moments while racing, such as the sun peeking over a barn in Moo Moo Meadows; you didn’t get that sort of glorious detail in the Wii version. Every character model is also beautifully rendered, along with their unique carts.
There are a plethora of characters to choose from, as you start with 16 and can unlock 14 more, although I’m not sure why anyone would ever want a Pink Gold Peach. But that’s okay; the point is that there are options. There are also a number of different carts, tires, and gliders for players to choose from with more to unlock along the way. It would’ve been cool to be able to customize the colors of your cart, but maybe we’ll see that in Mario Kart 9.
Each track is well designed, with interesting new ideas thrown into the mix, such as gravity-shifting portions and cart-gliding to new sections. Every track has a different feel to it, and they’re all filled with shortcuts and little tricks you’ll want to learn to put yourself ahead of your future opponents. Yet, gameplay is simplistic enough so that there’s no barrier to entry.
Generally, Mario Kart 8is just one of those games that is pure fun. What’s not to love? It becomes particularly more enjoyable when racing with friends on your couch, although Nintendo does include some online modes. But, Nintendo’s online multiplayer presence has never been its strong suit.
Mario Kart 8 is now Nintendo’s magnum opus. It doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, but instead exemplifies what Nintendo does best: pick a beloved game from their catalog, spruce it up with a paint job, throw in just enough new ideas and minor tweaks to make it fresh, and ship it out to the masses. I’m okay with that.+STORY+GRAPHICS+GAMEPLAY+SOUND+REPLAYABILITY