Mario Kart 8 Wii U Video Game Review
Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach and the rest of the gang are back in the best Mario Kart in years. Read Kidzworld's video game review of Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, right here!
The king of kart is back. Mario Kart 8, the latest in Nintendo's flagship kart racing series is a triumph on multiple levels. Easily becoming one of the best kart racers ever and hands down my favorite Mario Kart since Mario Kart 64.
The babies invade Mario Kart. Courtesy of Nintendo
Wario, always up to no good. Courtesy of Nintendo
Ride the walls on gravity defying tracks. Courtesy of Nintendo
On top of the spot on gameplay, which I'll get to later, Mario Kart 8 is a master-class of art direction. Absolutely stunning at times, this latest effort from Nintendo proves once and for all that Wii U has a little more juice under the hood than it's often given credit for. Wonderfully detailed characters, with expressive animations, all ripping around increasingly creative and detailed tracks makes for a delightful and eye-popping experience.
Puddles splash as your tires tear through them, petals fall from Cherry Blossom trees and birds scatter off the race track as you hum by. Mario and Luigi's mustaches even waggle in the wind. Mario Kart 8 is constantly impressing with the little details that show the love and care Nintendo puts into their top franchises. Making it the most visually impressive game on the Wii U so far.
Being gorgeous wouldn't matter much if the racing action wasn't good though. Not surprisingly, these karts handle like a dream. Every hop and power-slide feels perfect and refined and the sense of speed at times is exhilarating. Projectiles are aimed effortlessly also and oh what a joy some of the new ones are. The boomerang is a standout, able to hit multiple targets but the biggest addition is the introduction of the giant horn. This handy weapon is a double edged sword in a manner of speaking. Not only can you use it to blow fellow racers (and cows) off the track, but you can also use it to thwart off the infamous Blue Shell projectile. Finally, there is a defense to the blue menace and it definitely adds a new level of strategy to the action.
Course design is also extremely important in any racing game. Whether it be one of the 16 brand new tracks, or one of the 16 classic remakes, you're sure to find your new favorite in Mario Kart 8. Many of the tracks have gravity defying segments where racers take to the walls thanks to transforming, magnetic tires. While not game changing, it opens up the tracks to more unique and imaginative designs.
The "Twisted Mansion" features a track that warps under your wheels as ghosts attempt to slow you down. "Cloudtop Cruise" has you racing as the title suggests, in the clouds, where you're taken through peaceful blue skies before being tossed into lightning storms. Then of course, there's the new "Bowser's Castle" which features a huge lava rock Bowser who tries to smash competitors with his fists, sending a giant wave down the track in the process. To top off the mayhem, there's a brand new "Rainbow Road" which is just mind blowing.
Speaking of Rainbow Roads, the N64 version of that classic track also rounds out the stellar remakes, including "Tick-Tock Clock" from the DS Mario Kart and "Donut Plains 3" from the Super Nintendo Mario Kart, as well as tracks from the Gamecube and 3DS versions of Mario Kart.
Variety is the name of the game when it comes to Mario Kart 8. The character roster is huge, featuring series mainstays like Luigi, Toad and Donkey Kong as well as new challengers, Baby Mario and Baby Peach. There are multiple styles of vehicles to choose from, including classic karts, motorbikes and ATV's and you can then also choose between an assortment of different wheel types and glider types. I recommend the Sunflower glider for ultimate speed and handling in the air.
Accompanying all the great visuals, is an upbeat, charming and nostalgic arrangement of music. Which, like the sumptuous graphics and buttery smooth gameplay, shows Nintendo at the top of their game.
Online play makes a big step forward in the latest Mario Kart as well. The biggest and most exciting aspect of the online community is the ability to set up regular online tournaments with people all over the world. For example, I have on my "favorites" list the Kotaku Tournament, which is held at the same day and time every week to participate in if I so choose. Setting up your own weekly or daily tournament for the world to join in on is quick, simple and fun.
You can also edit and upload 60 second highlights from replays to share with your friends, the Mario Kart community or the rest of the internet.
If there is one place Mario Kart 8 crashes and burns, it's with the much loved Battle Mode. The fan favorite mode, which admittedly peaked with Block Fortress on the N64, has completely lost its edge. Outfitted with three balloons as usual, combatants now race back and forth on a modified tracks instead of the enclosed battle arenas of past. It really feels like battle mode was an after thought, since the rest of the Mario Kart 8 package is so thoroughly impressive. There's always a chance Nintendo will release classic style battle maps via DLC in the near future though and it is DLC I will gladly pay for as what is there now for battle mode fans is not overly exciting.
Along with Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8 is the best reason to own a Wii U so far. Nintendo pulls out the stops with Mario Kart 8, creating a wonderful kart racing experience from top to bottom. Stunningly beautiful across 32 exciting tracks. Mechanically perfect gameplay. And some of the most competitive and fun multiplayer you can have on your couch this year. Mario Kart 8 has been worth the wait, becoming an instant classic entry in the much adored Mario Kart series.
Mario Kart 8 Video Game Rating:
Available May 30th exclusively for Wii U.
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