The Mario Kart series has, since its first release 22 years ago, only ever offered fictitious karts for players to drive. That will no longer be the case come August 27, when Nintendo releases a free update for Mario Kart 8 that introduces three drivable Mercedes-Benz cars as part of a marketing partnership we first heard about in May.
Nintendo revealed at the time that the new Mercedes-Benz GLA would be released for use in the Japanese version of Mario Kart 8. It later confirmed that those in North America and Europe would also gain access to the car this summer, before formally announcing the details today.
The GLA will be one of three real-world cars added in the forthcoming update, though it is the only modern one: The other two are a 300SL Roadster from the 1950s and a Silver Arrow from the 1930s. "Special wheel options" are included with the GLA, and all three can be customized with various wheels and gliders. Once the update is released, players will be able to participate in a special Mercedes Cup online competition taking place from August 27-Setember 23.
Some fans have objected to the new cars being added, both because they feel out of place and because they're very clearly intended as part of a marketing campaign. (Don't forget about the McDonald's Happy Meal toys!) I'm not a big fan of them, myself, though I do find Wario sitting in a 300SL to be a funny image.
In addition to the cars, the update will introduce several new features and tweaks. Nintendo's official description of these changes follows below:
- Drivers will now have the option to display the course map on the TV screen during races.
- The order of the menu after each race will be changed to "Next Race," followed by "Watch Highlight Reel."
- The game will remember the most recent kart options that were selected, even if the Wii U system was powered down.
- Users will be able to change options of other players' Mario Kart TV downloaded highlight reels, such as changing the focus to different characters or actions.
- A score screen will be added so players can see how many coins they've collected, the win-loss record of their online battles, and their frequently used characters.
- Improved the stability of the online connection to enhance user experience during online battles.
Nintendo is releasing the update on August 27 to coincide with the 22-year anniversary of the release of the original Super Mario Kart in Japan in 1992. Should all this marketing crossover business turn you off to Mario Kart 8, Nintendo today launched Super Mario Kart on the Wii U Virtual Console for $8.
Will you be giving the Mercedes-Benz cars a try, or do you only care about the other additions in the update? Let us know in the comments.
|Chris Pereira is a freelance writer for GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @TheSmokingManX|
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