On your marks, get set, go…
Nintendo’s Mario Kart 8 on Wii U unleashes Mario and his kart on the circuit again with his familiar friends in the latest installment of the fun loving kart series we’ve become to know and love over the years.
Mario acceleralates from the classic SNES version and finely polishes his racing skills in this latest installment to arrive at the tracks. As you would expect from all Mario Kart titles, the Wii U version comes complete with a whole line-up of famous Nintendo characters that we’ve had the pleasure of knowing over the years, including the likes of Metal Mario, Lakitu and Shy Guy. Mario Kart 8 is immaculate with each finely detailed course, the look and customization of karts, to the selection of Nintendo characters you can play as. Nintendo has finely tuned this new addition to look incredible on the Wii U.
Customizing karts is enjoyable, allowing you to design your kart with gliders or huge wheels, or even choosing from a selection of bikes. Each kart’s ability is measured in power, speed and handling, and the players racing style will dictate which vehicles they opt for. Getting on track, unleashing spiny shells across the courses, blasting rockets and using your turbo boost, there’s plenty of enjoyment and entertainment to immerse yourself in. You can still blast players with shiny shells, flip the odd banana skin on the track or fire out a Bullet Bill into oncoming players at full speed.
Driving underwater looks incredible, but also throws up the challenges of avoiding giant cheep cheeps or keeping your kart from spiralling into underwater whirlpools. There’s loads of hidden paths and short-cuts within the game, giving you the chance to overtake your component, or make a quick exit to the finishing line.
Each kart is customizable in every way you could imagine to enhance gameplay. Brand new additions include using the piranha plant on your kart, which lunges forward and attaches itself to the player in front and gives a custom chomp. Then there’s the Boomerang Flower, which can be tossed to stun your opponent. This can be thrown a number of times backwards and forwards to knock out multiple rival players.
The anti-gravity function takes a little while to get used to, as you find yourself upside down, speeding along walls or gliding underwater. This can be a bit precarious at times, but adds a different element of play into the equation. The zero gravity effect does change the gameplay dynamics forcing you through tunnels, clinging to walls for dear life and making you feel disorientated. Mario Kart 8 uses the spin turbo, which enables you to collide into other racers, knocking them sideways or off course and rewarding you with a burst of extra speed.
Of course, You can play the game with friends, using other controllers such as the classic controller rather than the Wii U gamepad. I preferred to use the gamepad, mainly because I wanted to experience the game using the controls and Wii U touch screen. On the Wii U touch screen interface, not only can you toot your giant virtual button horn at opposing players, but you can see the positions of other players on the track from a top down view. The multiplayer experience is where the true kart series accelerates into action, placing you and your friends against each other in head to head races. Then there is the online multiplayer for up to 12 players – bring on the action!
Nintendo has finely balanced the nostalgic tracks with a selection of more updated circuits to choose from. Seeing the tracks in all their full HD glory is truly amazing, as you witness giant Goombas wandering on the track, or bright and colourful dessert themed courses such as Sweet Sweet Canyon. With a selection of up to 32 tracks to experience, consisting of 13 new tracks and 13 retro tracks including old classic SNES Donut Plains 3 and the not so old Moo Moo Meadows, it’s hard to believe this game could pack in anymore content.
Nintendo have resigned Mario Kart 8 to use the full potential of the Wii U while sticking to the tried and tested kart racing formula, offering you a whole host of well designed and challenging courses to choose from. With the enhanced graphics and different gameplay mechanics with the addition of anti-gravity, Mario Kart 8 is certainly one for Wii U owners to look for when the game launches on May 30th. Whether you’re veteran to the series or a newly adopted player, Nintendo has incorporated everything that makes kart racing so much fun, along with a few new surprises, into a solid karting title for Wii U. Who doesn’t want to win a big shiny banana cup at the end of the day?