Mario Kart 8 REVIEW
I remember back all the way to November 2012 when the Wii U was released. My eyes were wide open, my heart was ready give love and my hands were eager to play some Nintendo games. And I did. That sounded so dirty… Anyway, I was in love with the Wii U console and couldn’t believe that Nintendo had finally entered the HD era of gaming. I was excited at the amount of gaming I was prepared to do on this beautiful looking, and designed, console.
Then it happened. Nobody was releasing games, not even Nintendo. So I made the decision to sell my Wii U console. I put the money aside and waited until the PS4 was released to FINALLY enter the next generation of gaming consoles. Sorry, but I had to put Nintendo away. They failed and sadly standing around and watching them hurt themselves, was killing me. So I moved on. The PS4 was released a year later and I was in love all over again. Never once did I regret parting ways with the Wii U…that was until May 2014.
Wow, all that and I haven’t even started the review yet, come on, you know me by now. My reviews tend to be a little different from the norm. I’m all about the little details and backstory.
May 2014 not only brought my 30th birthday, but also the release of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U. It was one special month and it was at that point I decided to enter back into a relationship with Nintendo. I picked up a Wii U basic with Mario Kart 8 and my lord, I’ve just about played the game so much my thumbs have bleed.
Review: By now if you haven’t already read a review for Mario Kart 8, then you either a) don’t trust reviews, b) already own the game, c) have no interest in the game or d) were just waiting for my review. In either case I can say that Mario Kart 8 is one of the best games I have played in a VERY long time.
Late last year I posted my top 5 games of 2013, which were my opinions, and already when I write up my top 10 for this year, Mario Kart 8 will be high up on that list. First of all lets all rejoice that Nintendo has made the smart choice and included, not only, 4-player split screen multiplayer modes but even gone so far as to have full online support. I know what you may be saying, but Nintendo are just a little stubborn when it comes to moving with the times. However that seems to be changing so good work Nintendo.
Gameplay wise, Mario Kart 8 has never felt better. The opposition A.I. is as crazy as ever, with each of the racers cheating more than I’d like to admit. Peg it down to the rubber banding here, but I still wish it would come down to skill rather than better weapons for the ones losing. All your favourite weapons return and Nintendo has even been kind enough to include a few extras here. I’m rather fond of the way characters now actually toss the turtle shells instead of them just being fired like machine guns. Another gorgeous detail is the way characters glance at each other when overtaking. Those extra animations makes a hell of a difference for the overall game and pay off greatly during the highlights after each race…oh yes, those slow-motion moments really show off the sexy looking graphics here; cartoonish yet full of life.
Mario Kart 8 moves at a blistering 60fps and even in 2-player mode, where most of my time has been spent, it never seems to miss a frame or even a drop in detail. The draw distance on some tracks can go on for ages and you will always see exactly where you’re going because you can easily see far off into the distance.
Career mode is made up of 32 tracks broken up into 4 courses for each cup. 16 are completely original created for Mario Kart 8, while the other 16 fall into the remake category each borrowed from previous games in the series. And just hold your horses if you think Nintendo has pulled a fast one on you, the 16 remakes are remade to take full advantage of the power of the Wii U. Each remade track has a fine level of HD goodness to them including new section to show off the land, sea and air on offer here. Plus the anti-gravity system introduced here. Small sections on each track allow the karts and racers to literally climb the walls in pursuit of first place. Nintendo has gone all out with the level of detail. I’m completely blown away each time I play this game. Graphics can never be called into question at any point in this game.
Land, sea and air from the 3DS has made the transition here which I’m really glad about because they add many different paths and ways to fight for first place. Also returning from Kart 7 is the kart customisation. It sounds simple in theory, however the little changes you make to wheels and kart body can be the difference between first and second place. These choices also change when you factor in the character selection and weight sizes of them. It was a smart decision for Nintendo to include Kart customisation when you factor in online play and how people can be especially competitive. I’m lucky that most of the online racers I’ve engaged in have been mostly friendly with people complimenting each other between tracks in the lobby. This may be the result of lack of voice chat (apart from friends), either way its pleasant to know not everyone wants to ‘F’ me up for winning. It may be Nintendo’s fear of fully embracing online play, but I’m quite glad I don’t have to hear people complaining all the time.
A quick mention has to go to the music here. If you know your Nintendo games and love the music, then don’t worry, you’ll be well looked after. The sound design even carries over to the Kart effects and characters. It’s amazing that the finer details haven’t been skipped here. It would’ve been easy for Nintendo to screw us around, but thankfully they’ve brought their A game.
However, I do have a few tiny little issues here. For all the good things I’ve said, the GamePad is where my problems are. I love it. I don’t have an issue with the way it handles in Mario Kart 8 at all. You can control the game using analog sticks or switch the GamePad into gyroscopic mode and move it like a steering wheel. Both ways work perfectly fine but I do prefer using the Wii U Pro Controller. Fits better in my hand. As I said though, my problem with the GamePad is that Nintendo feel the need to always free the TV screen up by pumping as much information onto the GamePad screen.
This is a problem because the map has been removed from the TV and dropped onto the GamePad. Not a bad thing for most, but bugs me because I often like to see the position of characters on the map. With it relegated to the GamePad screen, sneaking a peak can often cost you when you take your eyes off the TV. Its a minor issue, but still bugs the crap out of me. I wish Nintendo gave us an option of what we could display on the TV as I feel this would be on many peoples lists to add. Maybe an update Nintendo…I’ll be waiting.
Final Thoughts: With Mario Kart 8, Nintendo has pulled out all the stops in bringing the best Mario Kart experience you could hope for. Everything has been refined and shines in full HD running at a slick 60fps. You won’t be disappointed at all and brings back the fun of N64 4-player action. A must buy for any Wii U console owner.