We are adding a new section to the site–Game Reviews! In this section, we will talk about a variety of games–video games, card games, board games. Basically any type of game you can think of. The first game that will be posted here, was a pretty anticipated release: Mario Kart 8. Unfortunately, the Wii U has had a rough start, with a rather uneventful software lineup for the past year and a half or so the system has been out. Adding to the “catch up” Nintendo has been playing with Sony and Microsoft, really made the Wii U a hard decision to purchase. Having faith in what Nintendo can do, and with one of the best Nintendo game series finally coming to the Wii U, we made the plunge. So how is Mario Kart 8? Josh provides a review, and Violet weighs in with her thoughts at the end.
Mario Kart 8 Review: Just as Awesome As Ever
Well, it is a lot of fun. It doesn’t tread a whole lot of new ground, coming from Mario Kart Wii. There are the anti-gravity bits to each level, under water racing, more vehicle options than ever, but it still is the basic style of mayhem and go-kart racing rolled into one. There are a ton of tracks, plenty of new ones, and plenty of old favorites which seem to have been updated to include some of the new features of Mario Kart 8, namely the underwater and anti-gravity portions. There are a few new items as well: the Crazy Eight, which gives you a bunch of items at one time to get back into the race, a boomerang which can hit going out or coming back, a piranha plant which “eats” nearby racers and player placed obstacles, and the “super horn”, which his helpful to avoid shells: green, red and even the dreaded blue.
For all of the drivers, vehicles, and even tires, there are plenty of options to customize your vehicle. Customization not only affects the look of your driver/vehicle, but as with past Mario Karts, affects acceleration, top speed, maneuverability, and how much you bounce around the track if someone hits you. These effects in this Mario Kart feel a little less than past games, but they are certainly still prevalent enough that the choice is somewhat important to your play style. Drifting remains in the game as well, the ability to get a speed boost when negotiating turns.
Mario Kart 8 can be played with a variety of controls, even old Wii remotes and a nunchuck, or with the tilt controls using the gyroscope, effectively acting as a steering wheel. The later method is more for novelty than being competitive though. Using a joystick provides much more control than attempting to use a fake steering wheel.
The single player modes play as about you would expect. The higher engine speed modes in Grand Prix mode provide more difficulty due to faster carts, and the AI seemingly racing better as well. Time Trial mode is still there as well, allowing you to race the clock, or ghosts to compete for better times.
If you are competitive, then the multiplayer mode is a fun mode, pitting you against other players from around the world. You pick your kart, driver and then you are put into a waiting room, waiting for the drivers that are currently racing to finish so that you can join in. Playing with real people, as expected, provides all sorts of fun and chaos. It is a bit frustrating if you are as competitive as I am. Luck and happenstance have a fairly big result in what can happen in a race. One race you can cruise to first place with little intrusion from your competitors, while others will be riddled with blue shells, red shells, fireballs and various other weapons the other drivers will chuck at you. Still, the better skilled you are, the higher you will likely finish the race.
Tips For Mario Kart 8
- Do not jump straight into multiplayer. You will likely get very frustrated. Beat at least all of the Grand Prix races on both 50cc and 100cc (unless you’re awesome, then jump straight into 150cc, and unlock stuff a whole lot quicker). This will provide more drivers and vehicles to help figure out which ones work best for you.
- Find the short cuts! Many tracks have short cuts that you can take, which will shave seconds off the clock. They are a little more dangerous than using the standard track, but the reward can be a big difference.
- Kind of a continuation of the first tip, try out various vehicles, tires and characters and figure out which suits you best. People will try to say what the universal “best” is, but those combinations might not suit your driving. Keep trying them all until you settle in!
- Figure out the best timing to use your items. Mushrooms can get you back on track. Some shortcuts work out a whole lot better when you use a mushroom with them.
- Master drifting and jumping on ramps/small obstacles. Both will provide a small speed boost. These add up over time.
- This tip is not a game one, but a money saving one–buy the game now or the new Wii U Mario Kart system bundle, and you receive a free Wii U game! You can choose between Zelda Wind Waker HD, The New Super Mario Bros U, or a couple of other titles when you register the game. Just don’t forget to register it!
- Lastly, remember that this isn’t a completely skill game. It can be frustrating when you are about to cross the finish line when that stupid blue shell takes away your first place trophy. But remember, this game is more about fun than competition. Save that for the more realistic racing games.
Josh’s Final Thoughts on Mario Kart 8
So it isn’t a whole new game, but it certainly builds up the greatness of the Mario Kart franchise. Lots of customization, lots of fun, lots of good ole fashion Mario Kart. If you do not have a Wii U, it is a big investment for one game, but it certainly is a great one. I would give it about a 8 out of 10.
Violet’s Final Thoughts on Mario Kart 8
Somehow, not sure how he did it, but Josh convinced me that we needed to get a Wii U. His main reason? To play Mario Kart 8. So we went out and bought a Wii U last week, then bought Mario Kart 8 when it came out a few days later. I’m not an avid gamer like Josh is. The extent of my gaming the past several years only includes The Sims and SimCity. But one of the few other games I can be talked into playing – and end up enjoying – for several hours is Mario Kart. We had it for the original Wii, and I often joined in playing, and I seem to remember playing it on N64 growing up as well. So as we started playing through the tracks on Mario Kart 8, I was pleasantly surprised to see some throwback tracks to the old Mario Kart games, though updated to fit the new version. Although it didn’t seem like all that revolutionary of an update, I found Mario Kart 8 to be a lot of fun, and liked how it offered several different customization options for both guys and girls. My rating: 8/10
What do you think of Mario Kart 8? Do you agree with our review? Do you have some tips and tricks for success in Mario Kart that I have failed to mention? Let me know in the comments below!