Wow. Wow, wow, wow. That about sums up what I thought when I booted up Mario Kart 8 for the first time. This, this is a top-quality game that any self-respecting gamer should own. Go, go buy a Wii U now and play this!
Maybe I should try and explain? I guess that is what this Verdict is for…
This is an absolutely gorgeous looking game, I loved Super Mario 3D World last year and the wonderful art-work was one of the key reasons. That game looked gorgeous, and Mario Kart 8 looks just as brilliant (even when playing on the GamePad). Racing through the perfectly crafted tracks in 1080p at 60FPS is just bliss. There are so many racing games out there that either go for realism (Gran Turismo 6 for example) and others which attempt to mimic the Mario Kart style (Sonic All-Stars and F1 Race Stars), but however good the realistic racers can be, they don’t have a match for the fun factor found in Mario Kart.
Singleplayer is the place to start, if only to start getting an feel for the 16 new tracks and 16 remastered classics. I started in the 50cc class, and it is a very gentle introduction to the game. Other racers will throw weapons at you as you storm away into the lead, but it is usually only when you make a mistake that you will lose a race here. But it is a vital step to learning how each character plays. Lightweight characters trend towards good acceleration but low top speed while heavier characters aren’t the best at making a get away, but can build up a decent head of speed. For the perfectionists who want the ideal setup, you can choose whether you ride in a kart, a bike of a quad as well as choosing your wheels. All of these choices have some further impact on how your character will fare out on the tracks.
It is the tracks which stand out in my mind, while they are in effect all new to me (not a lifelong Nintendo boy I’m afraid), I have to say that there are some cracking new tracks. Toad Harbour is one of my favourites as you race around a San Francisco inspired Toad city complete steep hills and trams. However it is Mount Wario which takes the biscuit, this snowy mountain is set out in a similar vein to SSX as a thrilling point-to-point, edge of your seat track.
While the singleplayer is the place to learn your way around the game, it is the multiplayer where things really shine. I will say that connections can be a bit hit and miss at times, but once you are in a lobby, you can be sure to take part in some brilliant races. With twelve human players on the go, all taking different strategies to their race, never is there a dull moment. Getting a Blue Shell when lying in second place near the end of the third lap is a moment you will treasure for ever…until the person in first place sounds their Super Horn at the right moment to destroy your race winning tactic. Going online is where the fun really is, and I can’t recommend it enough.
One of the best side-features of the game is Mario Kart TV. While I haven’t checked it out outside of the game yet, it is so easy to tag up highlight reels as favourites (up to six at a time) to later check out in Mario Kart TV. Here you can choose how long your video is, which racer it focuses on and whether it spends time on weapons, kart-on-kart bumps or turbo inducing drifts. Then it is a few clicks until you are uploading to YouTube. The videos you see here are all my own.
One side-point is that battles aren’t all that fun anymore. There aren’t any specially crafted arenas to cause carnage in, instead you are stuck with the normal tracks. However fun they are, they can lead to opponents being too spread out to ensure a proper battle.
That aside, I can’t fault Mario Kart 8, it really is great fun, and nothing will take away the joy of being able to carry on racing in bed with the GamePad.
Verdict – Red Mist
Platforms Available/Reviewed – Wii U
Game purchased at retail by reviewer. Please read this post for more on our scoring policy.