Mario Kart 8
I would have loved to have this review up sooner, however, I was unable to acquire a review copy from Nintendo. 🙁 Anyway, I\’m sure you\’ve read the overwhelmingly positive reviews for Mario Kart 8 (MK8 from here on out) on your favorite gaming publication and/or website but I\’m throwing my hat in the ring because the internet allows me to do so. So here it goes.
If you have a Wii U get this game. Even if you\’re new to kart racing games or suck at kart racing games or all racing games you should still check out MK8 because I\’m sure you\’ll have a blast! I\’ve always been pretty bad at the MK series—but that\’s at the 150cc level where the computer just destroys me—specifically during the last lap. I dominated the game on the 50cc level and brought home the gold in every race in every cup and in doing so unlocked a lot of characters and various kart parts while earning a lot of coin. I then moved on to the 100cc class which made for more interesting races and while I\’m winning cups, I\’m not getting first place in all of the races which is good for replayability. The computer offers more of a challenge and the higher speed can make it easy to misjudge my speed around a turn or lessen my ability to dodge a banana and leave me cursing as I spin out of control.
I\’ve also done my fair share of uploading highlight reels to YouTube and can say it works smoothly. Another fun thing is watching people\’s near misses and big hits on Nintendo\’s Mario Kart TV on the website and smartphone/tablet app. Nintendo\’s official addition of this type of social sharing helps in keeping the community connected and I\’m a fan of the push for social connectivity in gaming. Another welcome feature is off TV play which I\’ve found myself using while laying in bed with headphones in while my fiancé is sound asleep. But hands down my favorite feature is local multiplayer! Not enough games have it since last generation and it\’s a trend that I really don\’t like. It sucks. Online is cool and all but there\’s nothing like hanging out with friends and trash talking each other while eating pizza and wings and throwing back some beers.
Speaking of multiplayer, as you may have heard MK runs at a buttery smooth1080p at 60fps with up to two players and a respectable 1080p at 30fps with up to four. I had company over the other night and we played local co-op against the computer as well as both of us racing against people online worldwide and both modes were a lot of fun as multiplayer mode in MK tends to be with the exception of Battle Mode. In previous entries in the series Battle Mode was one of my favorite multiplayer modes pitting you against your friends in an arena with items. If you got hit three times you were eliminated and in an arena setting it was pure chaos. Sadly in MK8 rather than battling in an arena you\’re going around on a track…..which takes forever to find someone especially if it\’s just you and a friend. I am hoping this gets rectified via paid but preferably free DLC including classic and new arenas. Regardless I am happy to report that we didn\’t have any lag or connectivity issues with everything just working seamlessly while playing online. This is another stellar example of a game built with that Nintendo love and quality just like Super Mario 3D World. The addition of the antigravity racing doesn\’t some off as gimmicky but feels like it was a part of the MK series from day one. It just feels right and creates neat ways to take shortcuts during a race in your quest for first place.
If you really want to excel at MK you need to become familiar with the drifting system and now in MK8 when racing in antigravity mode if you bump into another player or boost pole you will gain a boost. All of the classic MK items are here in MK8 including the pain in the ass blue shell although now there is an item that can finally block it and that item is the Super Horn. When used it creates a blast that blocks anything within it\’s radius including the dreaded blue shell! When you find yourself in first place and you have something you can drag behind you like a banana or red or blue shell keep it! This way if a red or green shell comes barreling your way from an opponent the item you\’re dragging behind you will take the hit leaving you unharmed! Remember though that this technique doesn\’t work for the blue shell. I strongly suggest this strategy because on the final lap the item you will be given the most is the coin which does nothing except give you a coin. It kind of sucks and screws you during the race but remember that the coin takes no sides and if your buddy is in first he\’ll most likely get a coin too giving you the opportunity to nail him with an item. So plan accordingly and be smart. The good thing about collecting coins during races is that they allow you to unlock upgraded parts for karts and bikes. If you hit the plus button when you\’re customizing your vehicle before a race you can see the stats for what the combinations give you as far as acceleration, speed, and a few others.
To wrap things up coming from someone who has fun in MK but isn\’t the best at it I highly recommend this game. It\’s just pure fun both in single player and especially multiplayer either online or as I prefer locally. It\’s just what the Wii U needed until we wait for Super Smash Bros. U and the next Zelda.