Shattered my expectations

Game reviews

 

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Mario Kart 8, Nintendo, 2014.

With a new console, comes a new Mario Kart.

Granted Nintendo’s Wii u was already somewhat removed from what one would call “new” when Mario Kart 8 dropped in 2014. It’s the first game that made me seriously consider obtaining a Wii U.

At first glance, the game looks gorgeous .An absolute feast for the eye. The Wii U is not exactly known or it’s graphic horsepower but never has a Mario Kart game looked this spectacular. It’s brightly coloured in Nintendo’s trademark palette, but it’s also detailed and eye-catching.

The new levels are stunning. I often found myself re-visiting the same course because l wanted to make sure l captured all the little quirks and visual goodies it had to offer.  Classics are often hard to beat in Mario Kart, but the new courses are legitimately great. Delfino Plaza, the airport, and the mayan ruins-inspired level are fantastic fun.

Simply put,Mario Kart 8 is an excellent addition to the series. Levels are rich and varied with a great selection of new and classic courses. MK8 is not content to be just another game in the series, a few additions ands changes are noticeable.

First of all, falling off a cliff or when you’re flying doesn’t mean last place anymore. Good old Lakitu picks you up and brings a little further than where you fell which makes for a faster starting time and helps keeps you in the game longer. Blue shells aren’t as deadly as they once were. One of the biggest surprises were Red shells who no longer hit you when it looks like a certainty, adding to the unpredictability of the game. I truly enjoyed the addition of the Pirhaña plant as an item, it might just be my new favourite! Another addition was the game’s physics. Racing from side walls in certain level is a cool feature. It’s a little difficult to explain and it threw me off at first, but it adds another dimension to Mario Kart.

As a fan since the original SNES game, it was great to see courses from the SNES and N64, along with ones I didn’t expect like the GBA and Gamecube. I was also glad to see Mario Kart Double Dash -one of the most underrated Mario Karts in my opinion- getting some love here. They picked just about every level l would have minus a few. The classic levels are also fun to play in battle mode (although l really wished for Block Fort to make an appearance this time).

The selection of cars, wheels and parachutes amazes me. It’s vast and offers everything from the classic kart to monster-tuck types, cars, dirt bikes and even a scooter. And l thought Mario Kart Wii had a vast selection! It seems every time l race l unlock something which would be normal except l’ve been playing almost every day for a month. You certainly get your money’s worth in terms of replayability and unlockables content.

The DLC (Downloadable content) further enhances the game with 16 additional courses and new characters. The extra content is worthwhile and l would recommend purchasing the DLC as it prolongs the game, online included. I purchased the Mario Kart Wii U bundle and those extra course have made the game an even better one. Besides,  who wouldn’t want to race as Link or a blue Yoshi?

I love the online play and rarely does a week go by when I don’t race with other competitors from all over the world. The only gripe l have is that the course selection online is very scarce as people tend to pick the same ones over and over. Otherwise, it’s pure competitive and un-adutlered fun for everyone.

Now comes time to explain the one aspect of the game I didn’t enjoy so much. Battle mode has it’s share positives aspects, but is ultimately unsatisfying and disappointing. MK8’s large open maps make for challenging, albeit not necessarily better gameplay. Smaller, tighter courses would’ve been a better choice. They didn’t design levels specifically for Battle Mode which is a shame because everything else about Mario Kart 8 is near perfect. I’m sure I would’ve clocked in even more hours of regular and online play had battle mode been executed more concisely. I feel Nintendo missed an opportunity with this, because it just might be the best Mario Kart entry in the franchise.

Mario Kart 8 is as fun you want it to be, better than you would expect and a top-notch, essential Wii U title. On a side note, the game also works very well with the Wii U pro controller (popular during gaming nights). Blew my expectations away, minus battle mode. 9/10

 

 

 

 

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