For some reason we’ve only touched on Mario Kart 8 once on this blog, back when we highlighted the psychological trickery it can bring out from its players. This time around we’re doing a belated appraisal as, frankly, everyone loves Mario Kart and this is, undoubtedly, the masterpiece of the series.
We covered Super Mario Kart recently, the 1992 SNES classic which had remained our favourite in the series. This was until 8 hit the shelves in spring 2014, with a heady mixture of physics defying wall climbing, relentless action, and really bloody intense online multiplayer features. Journey with us, then, as we give you a glimpse of Nintendo’s Wii U classic, replete with honky horns, red shells, and utter carnage.
Mario Kart 8
The formula essentially remains the same: choose your Nintendo character of choice (for us, Toad or Wario in this edition) and race to win. To win, you have to drive well, but if you’re rubbish you can use power-ups to bring yourself back into contention, or to fend off competitors. This title introduces wall climbing elements to your kart, so you can scale walls, loop-the-loop, and take extravagant shortcuts in pursuit of victory.
The single player game helps you unlock new content, but what Mario Kart 8 is truly about is the international online community. The races are notoriously intense, and a single race can be, quite literally, breathtaking. This is where Mario Kart 8 really excels – it’s compelling to play, the tracks are quite stunning, and the challenge is endlessly rewarding. The satisfaction for getting it right always induces smug mode, and Nintendo ensure the more skilled you are the more rewarding it will be.
Back to the multiplayer – this is where the vast lifespan comes from. After a year and a half, Mr. Wapojif is still playing the game non-stop and isn’t getting bored. It’s impossible to as the online experiences are so varied, and taking a hard fought win is such an enjoyable experience.
It can also be infuriating, which is one of the essential elements of the Mario Kart experience. It’s brutally capricious and unfair, and Mr. Wapojif has lost many brilliant race wins (it’s a rare occurrence in online mode to win a race) due to blue shells (which home in directly on the race leader). This is life, though, which is unfair and savage; Mario Kart 8 doesn’t hold back, and there are no handholding elements to soothe your disappointment. You’ve simply got to deal with it and move on.
So as you can see from our sombre warbling, the game’s core players take the whole experience extremely seriously. Which is pretty amusing, thinking about millions of grownups getting super serious for Mario Kart, but it can be a richly rewarding endeavour. Whether you want to improve your lap times in time trial mode, take on the world with the online features, or try and wrap your head around the disturbingly fast 200cc mode, it’s all here. Hurrah!
There’s a common misconception amongst ignoramuses that Nintendo’s games are “for kids” – they aren’t. They’re for all ages, and are particular well suited to those with a keen sense of imagination and a desire for outright escapist fun.
Mario Kart 8 is a perfect example. It’s tough. No child will succeed on this game – players require an adult sensibility to sit back and reflect when, in sight of the finish line and a glorious win, a sudden change of events leaves you dead last. You can either throw a temper tantrum, cry, both, or grow as a person and accept the situation for what it is.
Mario Kart 8, then, is a stunning title and worth buying a Wii U just to play it. It’ll provide years of fun, and along with the console’s selection of other extraordinary exclusives, will put a great big happy smile on your face. That’s what you want, right? So buy one. Now, dammit!