Mario Kart 8 Review

User Rating: 9 | Mario Kart 8 WIIU

Mario Kart is back! The Wii U gets one of its first exclusives and certainly one that shows off the power of the Wii U console. Mario, Luigi, DK and friends are here with several newcomers such as Rosalina and the Koopalings. There are new tracks, new karts and tons of new fun to be had in Mario Kart 8.

Mario Kart 8 has never looked better! The first thing you’ll notice about the game is the silky smooth frame rate, pretty textures and crisp graphics. The game runs at 60fps with zero screen tearing or lag. It runs absolutely wonderfully. The new environments, characters, tracks and kart are well-detailed and full of vibrance. Things like tire marks, bumping and banging, and facial expressions will definitely impress. In recent weeks, Luigi’s ‘death stare’ has become quite famous, which is a tribute to just how alive your favorite Nintendo characters are. Your opponents will notice when you blaze by or throw an item their way, reacting accordingly. This, combined with remarkable a remarkable visual presentation, are things that make Mario Kart 8 feel full of life.

The sound design in Mario Kart 8 is pretty impressive. Engines roaring, tires squealing, characters speaking and the music….oh the music! It’s all incredibly well-executed in Nintendo’s latest kart outing. Click here for a glimpse at the music behind the game. It’s mind-blowing. Nintendo proves that it knows sound design, as it is near perfect in Mario Kart 8. Get ready for some ear candy as you race through the game!

What about racing in Mario Kart 8, you ask? Isn’t that what really matters? Well, I’m happy to inform you, the racing is impeccable. It’s fun, frantic, difficult and awesome. As a matter of fact, one could argue its the best ever in the series. Yes, it’s that good. You never feel as if it’s too easy or too hard. 150cc is a major challenge, but it also depends on the course. Also, you have to be on your A-game to get 1st in every race. Sometimes I would find myself getting 1st in the first three races, then getting 8th and losing the championship. You have to be on your toes at all times, which is great because that requires focus and pure skill. Good luck trying to be perfect in every cup, because it is HARD. Flying has returned from Mario Kart 7 and now you are able to go under water and on the side of things with the new anti-gravity mode. This is the biggest change as far as the racing goes and it works extremely well. The drifting feels just about perfect, which is saying a lot compared to how it was in Mario Kart Wii. Controller options are varied, as you can choose between the Wii U Pro Controller, Game Pad or Wii Remote. The Pro Controller feels the best with the Game Pad in a close second. Man, does that Pro Controller feel good!

Speaking of cups, there are eight total, which equals 32 tracks. This is a solid amount and of course, half of them are recycled from previous games in the series, but they are all revamped to an incredible level, making them feel brand new. There are a total of 30 characters, nearly half of which must be unlocked. The A.I. opponents are witty and competitive, something many racing games today lack. As far as items go, there are several new ones, such as the Piranha Plant, Boomerang and Super Horn (It blocks the Blue Shell!). Each has a unique feature that will help you conquer your enemies. There is a new coin system in the game, which is a nice addition to the gameplay. It rewards you and punishes you, according to what you do and how you drive. If you grab one, you get a tiny speed boost and you can hold up to ten, increasing your overall speed. You also get a boost from doing tricks, which are easy and fun to pull off.

Kart customization is one of the coolest features of Mario Kart 8. You can choose between a kart or bike, standard or slick tires, heck there are even wooden tires! There are also ATV’s and other unorthodox vehicles. Each combination you choose will have its own specific ratings of acceleration, top speed, handling, drifting and so on. Finding that one combination that works well for your racing style is very rewarding. As far as game modes, there are Grand Prix, Time Trials, VS, Battle and Online. Speaking of online, it’s a blast. You are able to compete in Grand Prix races with people across the globe. It’s a nice change of pace from the A.I. opponents.

Of course, Mario Kart 8 is not perfect. There are times of ridiculous rubber-banding and unfair punishment, which shows a flaw in the gameplay. But, for the most part, this game is excellent. Overall, Mario Kart 8’s fun factor is through the roof! It’s a blast to play alone, with friends or online. With tons of characters and tracks, new items, kart customization, amazing sound design, gorgeous visuals and much more, Mario Kart 8 is one of the best racing games money can buy. It completely validates a Wii U purchase for those haven’t made the jump yet. Like there aren’t enough reasons already (Zelda: Wind Waker HD,Super Mario World 3D, New Super Mario Bros U, Pikmin 3, etc.). Go grab a Wii U with a copy of Mario Kart 8 and get racing. You will NOT regret it.