Beep beep! It’s Mario time! The granddaddy of go-kart racing games is back. Every generation of Nintendo consoles has had a “Mario Kart” game since the original came out on the SNES in 1992, and “Mario Kart 8” just might be the best one. It’s no secret why these games are so successful – they are the most fun and highest quality of any other kart racer. Up until now, there have been a couple of good Wii U games, but nothing that has been a huge system seller. Now that “Mario Kart 8” is out, Wii Us are flying off the shelves.
“Mario Kart 8” is not just some new tracks; it has a ton of new features and beautifully stunning HD graphics – this game looks gorgeous. All of the colors are vibrant, and everything has an amazing amount of detail. This is the best any “Mario” title has ever looked. The looks aren’t the only thing it has going for it, though. It controls like a dream; the steering feels tight, and all of the courses have been fine-tuned. The new courses are a blast to play, and they have also revamped some of the older courses, called the Retro Cup, and they look and play phenomenally.
The newest addition to the gameplay is anti-gravity. Some tracks have blue sections, and when you cross them, you will hover and drive on the walls. Some of the tracks have sections where you have to drive upside down, and some have huge jumps where your kart turns into a hang glider, allowing you to fly. Along with the new tracks, there are a bunch of new racers. Now you can race as the Bowser’s kids, the Koopalings, and Rosalina from “Super Mario Galaxy.” There are also several new powers that change how you play the game. If you are in first place, you no longer have to live in fear of blue shells; when you hear the sound, activate a boombox and it will protect you. Another new power is the piranha plant, which shoots out in front of you to eat other drivers, coins, and even obstacles on the course. My favorite new ability is the boomerang flower, which will shoot out either forward or backward and come back up to three times.
There is an incredible amount of things to do in this game. You can try to get a gold medal on all of the grand prix races, and for the first time in a “Mario Kart” game, you can race with up to four of your friends cooperatively against the computer. If you want some real action, you can race online, with a friend, or if you don’t have any, then you can race with random strangers. One of the best things about the older games was the battle mode, but battle mode is not the same. Battle used to have dedicated arenas that were made for that type of gameplay; now the battles take place right on the tracks, which doesn’t have the same feel and isn’t as competitive.
Another interesting element is the ability to have a replay of each of the races when you are done; you can see all of the coolest moments in the race. One of the funniest things is the facial expressions that the racers give when you pass them. Don’t worry – you can skip the replays if you want to get right back into the fray.
Each of the “Mario Kart” games has some good elements, but none really nail every element of the game. “Mario Kart 8” is the best addition to the series since the original on the SNES. All of the new karts, racers, tracks, and power-ups will provide entertainment for you and your friends for a long time. If you are an old school “Mario Kart” fan, then this can’t be missed. If you are just looking for a fun new driving game, then you will love this game. If you haven’t had a reason to buy a Wii U console yet, then this has to be the game that will change your mind. “Mario Kart 8” is not only one of the best games on the console, but it is one of the best in the genre.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]