Monday, June 16, 2014

Plumber High On Mushrooms Stages Intricate Race Fantasy - Mario Kart 8 Wii U Ryview

Mario Kart 8, by Nintendo.

My Recommendation: This may not be worth buying a Wii U for, but it's damn close. And if you already own a Wii U, you should buy this game right away.

My first experience with the Mario Kart franchise was Mario Kart 64, and I spent a very large chunk of my childhood playing that. I had played other racing games before, but as a kid, I definitely appreciated the interaction between players in the Mario Kart via items. Usually all you could do was drive around, but with Mario Kart you could throw shells and banana at your competitors. And after playing through the entirety of Super Mario 64, this was a natural progression.

Since then, I've happily played through each console entry in the series, and I have to say that Mario Kart 8 is a fantastic step forward. I still think that Double Dash did some really amazing things for the game, but I always thought the Wii edition was fairly boring, not really doing much to advance the gameplay in any meaningful fashion.

The Wii U version is highly satisfying. You have tremendous customization for your kart (even down to your parachute, although most of the changes are largely cosmetic). The new tracks are visually striking, mostly bolstered along by the new console's graphical improvements, and the new "anti-gravity" sections provide a nice change of pace, even if the racing feels the same as in the normal racing sections.

Because Mario's hat is glued on...

The roster is also very impressive. I don't see why it shouldn't be, given that all you'd need to do is slap a new skin on a character. The weight classes are still around, but because the karts also alter weights, there's a fair bit you can do to cater your racer to your specific preferences.

I'm also a pretty big fan of the online multiplayer. Playing with friends was very easy to do, and it was easy to chat through the microphone in the Gamepad. The online gameplay did seem a little buggy (there were a few cases where I saw myself finish in one place but I'd be credited with another), but for the most part it worked just the same as the local gameplay.

Another glamour shot of our favorite plumber

So, this game doesn't completely revolutionize the franchise, but it doesn't butcher it either. Honestly, it seems to me that Nintendo is trying to play it safe. After E3, I get the definite impression that they're trying to appeal to their long time fans. New Star Fox, new Super Smash, new Zelda, multiple Mario related titles. I think they're current path forward is to maintain their status quo of memorable, lovable characters that force gamers to buy the console. And Mario Kart 8, for better or worse, does that. As I said, it has a large roster, interesting new tracks, and some good remade classic tracks. There's also a new Battle mode.

I don't really think this game demands that you buy a Wii U, but if you're intrigued by the slew of new titles heading that way, now might be a good time to jump on the console. And if you already own a Wii U, I think you should buy this game right away. There almost certainly won't be any significant price drops for it in the next year, and you really should experience this game before then. If you're strapped for cash, go out and get a used copy. Just make sure you check the disc from scratches first. You won't regret it.


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Let me know how you think it stacks up against the other Mario Kart games!

Until next time,


Images courtesy of Wikipedia except where noted

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