Mario Kart left its mark very early in gaming history and it still continues its legacy as one of the best racing games of all time. The 8th entry in the series really surpasses everything we have seen before by combining everything that has made Mario games a blast in the last years.
The first thing you’ll ever notice is the amazingly gorgeous visuals in this game. Nintendo has chosen to use a more colorful art style in their games since a long time ago. Mario Galaxy, Zelda: Skyward Sword and even Zelda U, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS and now Mario Kart 8; all of them feature more vivid colors with stunning lightning that the games will always be a pleasure to the eye. If you combine this with the fact that this time Nintendo has made the tracks even wilder, with lots of U turns, inclines, slopes, and even upside down stretches that defy the laws of gravity, the game ends up being a visually master piece.
Boy, Nintendo really likes messing up with gravity. Well, its inclusion in Mario Kart couldn’t be more welcomed! Also featuring the gliders that made their debuts in Mario Kart 7, the anti-gravitational effect really becomes a very good addition to the series. The tracks that put all of this to the test are honestly quite fun and original. There are the typical 4 cups tournaments, every one more difficult than the previous. But there was something that caught my attention: there are a few tracks that don’t require you to make 3 full laps of it. Instead, it’s one single lap, but divided in three sections. I thought that was really original because that way, the whole track is different and it’s more difficult to know what is expecting you ahead!
As it has been custom, there are also other 4 cups that bring old tracks from previous games to this race. But what’s cool this time, is that not only have they been remastered, they have also been added all those gravitational effects, with wilder turns and so on, which is very impressive. There is the classic Moo Moo Farm that, in my opinion, is the best looking track of the whole game. It looks taken right out from a movie!
Ok, enough with the tracks. Let’s talk about the characters now. The whole Mario Party team is back again as usual, but now there are more characters that decided to join the party this time. We’ve seen the koopalings lately in a lot of games. Ever since their debut in the 90’s, they didn’t make a return until Super Mario Bros. Wii, and it seems they decided to stay. For as much as I like those characters, there’s something that I didn’t really agree very much with. I honestly think Nintendo included some unnecessary characters this time. First of all, I’m not saying the koopalings are not welcome, of course they are! But it still is a little bit weird not to see Bowser Jr. when all his brothers are present. And there’s also Metal Mario, Gold Pink Peach and Tanooki Mario as DLC. They are not 100% Mario and Peach clones because they are heavier, which makes you rethink about your kart customization, but still, sometimes I feel those slots could have been given a better use with other independent characters.
I mean, Bowser jr., for a start, Birdo, maybe even Petey Piranha and King boo, if they wanted a heavy character so badly… I don’t know, I just think there were more options that could have made things better. Having a lot of koopas and skins for Mario and Peach makes it feel that there are very few racers once the game has just started. But that’s just my opinion.
In any way, once the race has just started, the game will instantly become the best Mario Kart you’ve ever experienced. Because, well, I’m not saying I am the best player available, but I thought that, once you had already mastered the controllers and tracks in previous Mario Karts, it was pretty easy to say goodbye to the competence and stick with the first place forever. But this is definitely not the case here. CPU will always be right behind you, and everybody will get deadly items to attack you at any time. It’s extremely easy to go from 1st place to 7th place, I kid you not. Speaking of the items… the classic items we all know are back, but now there are three new additions to the sets. The boomerang, the piranha plant and for the first time ever, something to repel the blue shell. Oh, those disgraceful moments seem to be over now for whoever is in 1st place. Once again, they are more than welcome. The more the better. Except for one specific item…
I personally think the coin couldn’t be more useless as an item. Coins in the game help you unlock new kart customizations, so it’s good that you grab them as you race. However, there are already too many spread throughout the tracks that when one single coin comes out of the item boxes the feeling you might get is no other than “why? I so need a red shell, a mushroom, even a green shell would be nice at this point!!” But no… you get a coin. But oh well, I think not everything could have been perfect.
But of course, if you are new to the series, don’t worry, there’s always 3 different modes to play, as the veterans should know very well by now: 50cc, 100cc and 150cc. The higher the number, the faster the game will be and the harder it will get, so, as usual, there’s always something available for newcomers and veterans alike.
Which takes us to the wildest addition ever in a Mario Kart game: the 200cc mode! Ever since it was announced as a free DLC everybody got excited and with a reason! Let me tell you, the speed this time is crazy!!! If you think you would never need to use the breaks in a turn or something, think again, because this new mode will definitely put everyone’s skills to the ultimate test. I don’t care how much you think you know the tracks by now… you will definitely end up crashing a lot, falling a lot, and struggling to get in the first places for a while.
In fact, this new mode just confirms that everything in the game has become faster. Even when you fall, good guy Lakitu will take you back to the stage pretty fast. Because you WILL need to get back to the track fast, trust me.
Finally, you know what other cool DLC is available right now? Yes, you got that right. Now the villagers from Animal Crossing and Link from TLOZ have arrived to the party with some tracks of their own! Is this a good thing? Totally! Especially when the developers were running out of ideas of what characters to implement. Guess it will become Super Kart Bros. one day?
So, all in all, Mario Kart keeps evolving as a series that feels fresh every time a new game comes out. Everything that was already cool of every Mario Kart game on their own has come to make this 8th entry one of the best racing experiences ever. Even with some minor things I still don’t agree with, the visuals are stunning, the tracks are wilder, the speed has increased, everything has changed for the better. With all being said, I am sure that Mario Kart 8 deserves a solid 9.5.