Some feel that the Mario Kart franchise places too much of an emphasis on luck instead of skill, but Nintendo hopes you won't feel that way with its upcoming Wii U racing game Mario Kart 8. During a recent roundtable interview attended by GameSpot, producer Hideki Konno stressed that Nintendo went to great lengths to ensure that Mario Kart 8 is a well-balanced game.
"Game balance is also another really important element of Mario Kart that we look very closely at and place a lot of value on," Konno said. "From the time we start working on development, thousands of times, maybe even tens of thousands of times, we adjust that balance when we're playing. At the end we come up with what we hope and feel is a really good balance. It's our strong hope that folks would want to play with the items as we have balanced them."
"We do hear, and a lot of people out there say it, that Mario Kart is all about luck," he added. "That if you're at the front then you'll get hit with a blue shell, so it's all about luck. That feature is not random--it doesn't just happen. There is a lot of adjustment and there is a lot of thought and effort put into that system, and developing it in a way that actually promotes game balance. I would hope people understand that as well."
Also during the roundtable interview, Mario Kart 8 director Kosuke Yabuki revealed that the game will feature not one, but two Rainbow Road courses. One is a remake of the N64 course, while the other is brand-new, and Yabuki teased that it's "really spectacular."
"Rainbow Road of course is a classic course. This time we actually grabbed Rainbow Road N64 version in addition to the current iteration of Rainbow Road," Yabuki said. "So we hope you look forward to racing on both of those courses."
"One thing I do want to mention is Rainbow Road, that final course. We really want you to look forward to what we've done to it this time because it's something else," he said about the Wii U Rainbow Road course specifically. "It's really spectacular."
"We really wanted this game to be a representation of all the games that came before it" -- Mario Kart 8 producer Hideki Konno
Overall, Konno explained that Nintendo's overarching ambition for Mario Kart 8 was to create a game that captures the essence of every entry in the beloved series that has come before it.
"We really wanted this game to be a representation of all the games that came before it," he said. "We wanted to summarize and bring together all the elements of the series into this title."
To that end, Mario Kart 8 will feature glider karts and underwater levels, which were featured in 3DS game Mario Kart 7, as well as brand-new anti-gravity courses.
"The race courses themselves is one of the most important--if not the most important elements--in the series, so with Mario Kart 8 we really wanted to divide up the things we could do and make sure we're really using them effectively," Konno said. "So we have underwater sessions, we have flying sessions, we have anti-grav sessions, and we use all of these in a way to create really interesting and fun to drive on courses."
The interview also touched on customization options for Mario Kart 8. Though Konno ruled out the possibility of a track-editor for Mario Kart 8, he said it's a feature he's enthusiastic about and said he would like to see it come to life in a future installment in the series some day.
"With regards to course editing, and letting users create and edit their own courses, it's something that I'm interested in, and I've been interested in for a long time. It's a fun feature," he said. "However, with Mario Kart, courses are key to the series, and it's really tough. This is the eighth game in the series, and when we work on a Mario Kart title, we work on courses, and we create them, and then we work on them again, and again, and we revise until we come up with something that we think will be fun for everyone to play."
"We have a lot of confidence in our ability to do so, but we understand what a tough challenge it is to create those courses," he added. "I just don't know that at this point we are able to do that to a level that would satisfy anyone, myself included. Some day if we can come up with a solution and implement in a way that would make everyone happy, we'll come back to that issue and readdress it. But I do think it would an interesting idea. We're always optimistic and thinking about what we would do in the future."
Mario Kart 8 launches exclusively for Wii U on May 30. Nintendo's latest console is struggling right now, and a marquee first-party title like Mario Kart 8 could be the shot in the arm the platform needs to finally grow its install base.
|Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch|
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