4cr Chime-In: Mario Kart 8

by Antonio Garcia

Mario Kart 8 has finally been released on Wii U after months of getting sneak peeks here and there that showcased a new track, a new character, or a new item. MK8 managed to sell 1.2 million copies over its first weekend and looks to have given an appreciable boost to hardware sales. Considering that most of the 4cr staff bought the game on the day it was released, we decided to do chime-in to share what we think of the game after playing it for a couple of weeks.

 

frog-seanSean

The last Mario Kart game I owned was for DS, where the online experience thoroughly ruined my enjoyment. Mario Kart 8 had revived the franchise for me.

I should be more specific. I have never played Mario Kart 7. Although I never owned (and still don’t own) a physical copy of Mario Kart 64, did buy it for Wii Virtual Console after Mario Kart DS came out. I also finally got Mario Kart Wii with a Wii Mini, a system I did not need except for the nice discount it gave me on the game and a red Wii MotionPlus remote/nunchuck.

Both console versions I played religiously with friends, but never felt the need to own for myself until life and circumstance encluraged me to fill the void. I cherish the memory of those games, but now that Mario Kart 8 is out, I see no reason to go back like.

For all its amazing visual polish and online/social media services which make it feel truly next-gen, Mario Kart 8 shines most brightly by returning to the core gameplay of the series. The reintroduction of coins (the first on a console version since the original Super Mario Kart), and the much-requested and sorely-needed Blue Shell buster, has restored Mario Kart as a more serious racer where skill still has a chance to trump blind luck.

A more tradional Battle Mode may be nice, but I’ve even too busy racing to see if I would be disappointed by it. I wouldn’t mind the course map being on the HUD, however.

8 out of 8, would power slide again.

frog-tobyToby

This is probably my favorite Mario Kart since Double Dash (the indisputable pinnacle of the series), and probably one of the most handsome games I’ve ever played. I really enjoyed fiddling with all the different kart settings to find my ideal combination… not coincidentally, the one that feels most like Double Dash. The selection of courses is fantastic and the racing has probably never felt so fine-tuned and refined.

This could possibly be the best Mario Kart of all time if it included proper battle courses, something I was very disappointed to not hear news about from E3. I was certain there’d be some sort of DLC announcement… oh well. It could still happen! I will also take this opportunity to share the world’s complaint about the fairly lame character roster. There was a recent rumor adding E. Gadd, Kamek, Birdo, Diddy Kong, and Plessie to the lineup, and that would help a lot. It’s really time for Mario Kart to start bringing in characters from the RPG spin-offs or even other Nintendo properties.

Agreed about the course map! I didn’t realize how much I needed this until it was gone. I had grown especially map dependent in Blur (aka the only battle-racing game that is occasionally superior to Mario Kart), so I hope to see this added somehow.

frog-francoisFrancois

When it comes to new Nintendo games (or any cool new video games in general), I often tend to speak in hyperbole. But I don’t think it would be superfluous for Mario Kart 8; as it really deserves it.

Like many of the recent major Nintendo releases (Super Mario 3D World, A Link Between Two Worlds) Mario Kart 8 is so highly polished, so finely tuned, that it feels vastly superior not only to any other entries in the series but to most of the games I’ve recently played. Also, like many of the company’s recent games, Mario Kart 8 is focused in its design, balanced in its gameplay and beautifully enhanced by stunning graphics and animation along superb soundtrack, with live instruments no less (nothing feels better than racing to a jazzy saxophone solo). I could pinpoint some tiny little details here and there, and I for myself never cared for the battle mode, but Mario Kart 8 is as close to perfection as a video game can get and more than anything else, it is damn fun.

frog-kyattKyattsuai

In a way, Mario Kart 8 is essentially an HD Mario Kart 7, although the things they add transcend it just above that doomed orbit. The hovering is pretty neat, and contrary to my fears, it’s not too disorienting. On the other hand, by not making it disorienting, it’s hard to notice how oddly the tracks bend; it’s like Ouendan or EBA wherein you can’t really pay attention to all the cool stuff happening on the top screen because you’re focusing on the gameplay so hard, but if someone was watching you play, they’d have quite the thrill. It also has that same kind of live music that made Super Mario 3D World so great. Seriously, Mario music has been consistently swinging it out of the park since Galaxy, if you don’t count any of those NSMB games with all those “pah”s riddled thoughout. I mean, it’s cool that the enemies all dance around to the music, but that got old halfway through the original DS game. Come on.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Mario Kart 8. The online multiplayer is pretty damn solid. First time I played a Nintendo game and legitimately thought they had their act together when it came to online. I wish you could say something other than whether or not you’re using tilt controls, though. Aside from that, it’s a great game that I can only attempt to chip down with a battery of negligible complaints. I wish there were more rally tracks. I wish one of the two rally tracks wasn’t a retro track they cut into 3 pieces. I wish less of the roster was babies. No, that last wish wasn’t enough; I need to use another one to wish for LESS babies. Thank you for coming back, Waluigi, but did you really need to bring so many babies with you? I wish you hadn’t. I wish the coin didn’t come back as an item; Mario Kart 7 did us the grand favor of getting rid of the fake item block and then Mario Kart 8 comes back and gives the lead player another item that’s equally useless against shells, and even more useless against drivers behind you.

But I digress. Don’t let that rant that took up a healthy chunk of this skew you proportionately. Mario Kart 8 is making me feel really glad that I have a Wii U. Perhaps it also has something to do with that quick launch menu they added to the console at around the same time, which is also pretty awesome, but either way, Mario Kart 8 is definitely part of that feeling.

frog-edenAntonio

I bought Mario Kart 8 on the day it was launched, and it completely blew me away. It is a very polished experience and it shows what the Wii U can do when the proper time and resources are allocated for a project. The transition from Wii U menu to the loading screen to the main screen is a nice touch, and it starts things in the right direction.

I started by playing a couple of 50cc cups before giving the online a try, and I never looked back. Most of you probably know that I don’t do much online gaming, but Mario Kart has managed to keep me playing online for hours. Since you can easily join a room, or create a private tournament, you can focus on enjoying the experience without delay. The online is very solid and lag-free, and I’ve only been disconnected from Nintendo’s servers a few times since launch… which is probably why I’ve enjoyed online MP so much.

I liked Mario Kart 7 on 3DS, but Mario Kart 8 grabbed me right from the start. It evolves the formula with better track designs, new tricks (the anti-gravity sections, and boosting when you hit an opponent, completely changes things) and a solid 59fps at all times.

frog-carlCarl Johnson

Mario Kart is dead to me and that has nothing to do with being beaten by my girlfriend, so don’t even ask about it because it is a stupid game for girls anyway.

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