Mario Kart 8 Embraces Its Glorious History

It's all right to recognize greatness, even when a franchise doesn't change much through the years.

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Mario Kart is a franchise that's easy to take for granted. The gang from the Mushroom Kingdom ride around on karts, flinging items and swapping paint while they strive for the checkered flag. Everyone has flung a green shell at a buddy, or skidded into a banana peel just before the finish line, so it's hard to muster much excitement when Mario gears up for another lap. But consistency is not something that should be scoffed at. Reliving the familiar in Mario Kart 8 is just as delightful as every game in the franchise. So whether or not you want Nintendo to overhaul the formula, or, god forbid, let the franchise lay dormant for a few years, you'll be powerless to resist once the starter gun sounds.

Driving on the ground is for squares. Yes, it's a difficult subject to broach considering how ingrained ground driving is in our culture, but it's played out. Do you know how to spice up the mundane? Ignore Newton's pesky gravitational rules, that's how. The laws of physics don't apply to plumbers or princesses or sentient turtles in Mario Kart 8, letting your tires kiss a nearby wall or hug a ceiling if you're so inclined. In theory, such trickery dazzles the eyes without adding anything of tangible value. But push that cynicism aside for a second because, in practice, the diverse shortcuts that materialize when gravity is a mere suggestion make the already fantastical racing even more chaotic.

Venturing into Bowser's fortress showcases the craziness that oozes out of Mario Kart 8's digital code. A slanted hallway forces drivers to choose their side--left or right--giving you a bird's-eye view of a family of boos floating above the dinner table. Turn the corner, and a wall of water, propped up by nothing more than the firm belief that water doesn't have to flow, stands before you. Your kart splashes into the briny depths, transforming into a handy submersible. And even once you're fully submerged, you can still turn walls into ground as you motor on by.

All of these new features are bullet points that Nintendo can put on the back of the box. The heart of Mario Kart lies in its controls. Taking control of a kart just feels right. Drifting around a tight turn activates your power boost, urging you to cut corners as close as possible to keep your speed at the top of the odometer. Steering around an obstacle requires just a small tap on the stick, letting you glide to safety if your reflexes are sharp. Perform a trick off a ramp to gain a quick boost, never losing sight of your goal even while you're lost in this colorful world. Even manning a controller in a crowded convention center is a pleasure.

Is it silly to be so enthralled by an expected sequel in a franchise that's going to celebrate its 21st birthday later this year? No, no it's not. Mario Kart 8 is pure, simple fun. And it's always fun. Even amid the bountiful wealth of fantastic experiences at E3, it still stands out as something special. Fun is not something that's easily created, so it shouldn't be shunned when it flies onto the screen. Mario Kart 8 is just another Kart, and for that it should be applauded.

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207 comments
luigiGatekeeper
luigiGatekeeper

THIS IS SOOOOOOOOOOOO AMAZING!!! I should play all the Mario Karts I have to see where I stand as I pro Mario Karter!!

Sp0ilzbury
Sp0ilzbury

Sold my Ps3 for a Wii U and a Vita.  After e3 I'm even happier I did so.


Honestly the only good titles I felt the ps3 had were MGS4, LBP (build-your-own mario levels) , and ModNation (Build your own mario kart...If you could stomach the lag and load times.)

The ONLY thing I would love to see added to Mario Kart is the create your own track feature from ModNation.

trueepower44
trueepower44

I've had more fun with the Wii U than any console in recent memory - going way back to before PC's became popular. Playing Call of Duty on the gamepad has been outstanding, and one of the best experienced I've had gaming. The gamepad is best idea of any console idea, and in the end I still think people will appreciate it, once they get their hands on it.

clockworkengine
clockworkengine

Nintendo doesn't think of IP's the same way as MS or Sony. With Nintendo, the IP is the character universe, and the MO is to create all kinds of games set in those universes. If Sony or Microsoft had first-party IPs with the worldwide recognition of Mario or Link, they would probably do the same thing. But, they don't. Only Nintendo has that advantage. Don't ever count Nintendo out.

Juschillin810
Juschillin810

The voice of Yoshi in the trailer resembles nothing of my memories of Yoshi.  All in all, looks great if you own a Wii U.  I do not.

River3838
River3838

I usually trade and my Ps and my Microsoft consoles , but keep , nes, snes, n64, GameCube, and now wii, why cuz it's nintendo .

River3838
River3838

Someone who buys all consoles We all win. Mario kart going to be great. Nintendo's not dying its just Conservatively.

DarthLod
DarthLod

This is why Nintendo is dying. NOTHING new...just the same few games over and over and over. They just dont get it anymore.

Stesilaus
Stesilaus

Mario Kart 8 >> Forza 5, because it's not on Xbox One.

manocanada
manocanada

The gravity part looks like it could be something new and fun. Hope it's not too crazy and that my old folks can comprehend whats going on as they randomly start racing on the walls and ceiling.

Bregzeinkul
Bregzeinkul

I don't know about you guys, but as a person whos not yet to own a WiiU, seeing the same old characters again and again really tires me.

jookiyaya
jookiyaya

Bah it's TOO late now. No one is going to buy a Wii U just for this.

How about giving in to Sony and make it available for PS4? Then I will buy! ^_^

ericface21
ericface21

I think you meant "speedometer," not "odometer"

MooncalfReviews
MooncalfReviews

Probably the only thing I would consider buying a Wii U for.

juboner
juboner

the underwater is ok but the gliding part is just dumb just doesnt fit in a kart racer to me. only time ur wheels should be off the ground is when jumping

eze_sl89
eze_sl89

sorry i preffer SONIC ALL STAR RACING TRANSFORMED

PrpleTrtleBuBum
PrpleTrtleBuBum

I really hope the tracks do more homage to the source material. Bowser Castle has always been fun because it captures the features of a Castle level in the platformers. On the other hand the deserts and valleys in MK8 look kind of generic just like before.

They recreated the first stage of SMB for Smash Brothers Brawl and I'd hope they did that with Kart games too. What about a track set on the giant mushrooms or underwater with all the calmari and catfish? Or a snow track with bullet bill guns and hammer brothers?

nate1222
nate1222

Well, if I ever get back into the console scene, Wii U would be my console of choice. Mainly because it's about GAMES instead of multi-media crap that I already do on my laptop. And, Mario Kart 8 WOULD be on my get list. But, I don't see myself returning to proprietary devices.

AzatiS
AzatiS

Tom applauds for Mario Kart 8 and dissed The last of Us ... What a guy ...damn!!

King_Dodongo
King_Dodongo

I'm really hyped for this. Pixar quality stuff. 

diabolik_023
diabolik_023

i am so sick of MARIO games... more sick than COD and COD like games

garysingh34
garysingh34

" Consistency is not something to be scoffed at"? Why the hell does COD always get a hard time then?

DaX_Factor
DaX_Factor

I remember having the most fun with the multi-player battle tracks on MK64.  Hope they are able to recreate that level of enjoyability again

Heirren
Heirren

I agree about a track feature. That would be great. In fact, had NSMBU had a level editor I bet it would have possibly became a system seller. I don't see why nintendo doesn't update the game to do so.

Sp0ilzbury
Sp0ilzbury

@NaszadyJ wishing it into existence isn't going to work. Stop spamming this useless link plz.

Epony
Epony

 @Juschillin810 That reminds me, why wasn't Yarn Yoshi at E3?

quiksilvers123
quiksilvers123

@Bregzeinkul Nintendo tires me. New Mario Kart + New Zelda + New Donkey Kong = Nintendo Strategy.

Meh whatever. They should sell their franchises to Sony and/or MS and be done with it. 

Oyeboy94
Oyeboy94

@AzatiS How is an 8 out of 10 a diss? That's still a good score.

quiksilvers123
quiksilvers123

@diabolik_023 Same. I came here just to see if it was different or what has changed.  Same S***, Different name. Bleh. Nintendo is a fanboy console for sure.

Mugzippit
Mugzippit

@garysingh34 The reason CoD gets a hard time is because there has been a newly released CoD game every year in the holiday season since 2004 (with the 1 exception of 2005). Mario Kart is only 1 per Nintendo console and despite having huge gaps between games, between 2 and 5 years, they still give a familiar consistency to them while staying fresh and enjoyable.

Mugzippit
Mugzippit

@Heirren If NSMBU had a level editor, Nintendo could never release another version of the game. Seriously everyone would just make tons of awesome levels and there would be no value in buying future versions.

DarthLod
DarthLod

@Oyeboy94 Did you see a E3 press  conference? No. There is a reason they didn't have one this year for the first time ever. Is Wii U doing very good sales wise? No. No one I know owns a Wii U and doesn't want one. They got burned enough with the first Wii. 

TrappedInABox91
TrappedInABox91

@quiksilvers123 @Bregzeinkul 

So they make countless " same olds' without the bias of the PS and MS fanboys? COD, and almost every EA game made in the last 15 years. ( Need for Speed. ect/ Worst company in the world.) makes the same game up to twice a year, but no notices this? 

aluuuco
aluuuco

@starwarsfan123 @DaX_Factor mmhmmm the n64 imo was great.. not a ton of releases but the ones that were there were almost always enjoyable. i spent a lot of time with it, it being my first console. star fox, mario 64, goldeneye, sf rush, tony hawk (when it was still fun), resident evil 2, mario kart, gah lets just say i had a ton of cool cartridges. even turok seeds of evil i believe it was called for the multiplayer.. whoever was it turned into a monkey and they had a gun that would bore into ur head and then explode heh good times..

Heirren
Heirren

Well if it was popular a community would thrive. Years down the road nintendo could release a more spectacular 2d(sprite based perhaps) Mario title with even more creative features. The important part is to build that community.

locknuts84
locknuts84

@DarthLod @Oyeboy94 I got burned with the Wii as well. Worst console I've ever bought. The Wii U is much, much better though. Glad I gave Nintendo another chance.

nintendokidlink
nintendokidlink

@DarthLod @Oyeboy94  but what is wrong with doing it over and over I like that they do it for cod and need for speed to some extent. this is why I hate people like that why do you want Nintendo to die do you really going to help the gaming industry. with out Nintendo all the 16 and younger kids with strict parents that don't let there kids play cod or god of war will all go mobile and that's not god for the gaming industry. 

DaX_Factor
DaX_Factor

@aluuuco Every game you mentioned brought back fond memories. I got addicted to Killer instinct Gold for a while. I had to put a band-aids on my thumbs because the competition was wicked between my cousins and myself. Losing meant extra chore details. I wasn't about to wash another guy's underwear!