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LTTP: Mario Kart 8

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Mario Kart 8 Logo

I’ve only seen Mario Kart for the SNES in action. I’ve played a fair share of Mario Kart 64 huddled around a CRT TV. And the last instalment, Mario Kart Wii left me wondering why anyone would want to play this with other arcade racers available.

I didn’t plan on picking up Mario Kart 8 but when I saw footage of it in action running at 720p60, I was intrigued. The more footage I saw, the more I was interested. I finally bit the bullet and purchased it after a $10 discount and Nintendo’s free game promotion was drawing to a close. (I chose to Pikmin 3)

I started the game at the 150cc and immediately understood the hatred for the Blue Shell. It was tough to defend because it required a very specific and uncommon weapon pickup. It’s almost better to be in second or third place and then storm to first in the final lap than to lead the entire race.

A quick glance at guides and controller layouts was enough to get the fundamentals of drifting, proper starts and weapon use. I think the game could have benefitted from a tutorial section that broke down those basics.

I don’t have any nostalgia for Mario Kart, so the entire catalog of karts and tracks were all new to me. Seeing the game from which each track came from was still interesting though. It was noticeable how the capabilities of the original platform affected the course’s complexity.

The character select screen is full of Mario characters but to add the baby variants is lame. Where’s Birdo or Chargin’ Chuck? I appreciate the inclusion of Shy Guy but where’s his aggressive cohort, Snifit? With such a wide variety of characters within the Mario universe, adding baby and beta versions of existing characters was disappointing.

I find the name “Mario Kart” is antiquated; it’s about time they transform this game into Smash Kart and include the entire Nintendo cast. Thankfully Nintendo isn’t restraining themselves by keeping out the likes of Link and Isabelle from participating in karting fun through the upcoming DLC. I’m hoping Mario Kart 9 will become Mario & Nintendo All Stars Karting and we can move away from spinning off existing cast members.

Each character falls into a particular weight class but vehicle choice and customization can drastically alter the feel of each character. I like that. It allows people to choose their favorite and round out that character’s inherent weaknesses.

Mario Kart 8 is a joy to play. So much so that I already pre-purchased the upcoming DLC packs. Aside from the absence of a basic tutorial, the included contents and features oozed quality. I even played a handful of online races and it was just like I was playing the cup races on my own. There wasn’t a hint of lag and thanks to it being a Nintendo system, not a single asshole was heard.

I might pull out my hair and scream “bullshit” and other expletives while I work my way through the 150cc cup races, but I’m not going to let that take away from the overall package. It’s not just one of the best games on the Wii U, it’s also one of Nintendo’s best games to date.

Verdict:
Must Play

Ratings Guide

For more information on Mario Kart 8, visit the official website.

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