We are now approaching the two month point from when the 8th instalment of the Mario Kart franchise hit the shelves in the UK and, with over 2 million units currently sold worldwide, is this the injection of interest that Nintendo, and the Wii U console, desperately need?
Certainly the reviews across the board seem to suggest so, with almost all of the major magazines and online reviewers giving it extremely high marks and praise. All scores are 80%+ with some reviewers currently calling it the greatest Wii U game to date, which is certainly going to help revitalise a, so far, quiet market. But does it live up to the hype, or has the relative scarcity of standout titles lowered people’s expectations?
So, having sat down to engage in the multiplayer racing with a friend, it was immediately obvious that a lot of attention has been paid to both graphical detail and a user friendly interface. When it comes down to the racing part of the game the tracks are a huge jump up from previous games and the beauty of the graphics would even make cel-shaded racers on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 blush.
The one thing that struck me as particularly impressive was the selection of choice. As this game begins to bend the laws of physics by being able to go upside down and stick to the walls using the gravity function on your vehicle (this activates automatically so luckily no irritating combo to punch in beforehand), they needed to come up with yet another way of re-inventing what is essentially a saturated genre. The choices come down to bikes, cars, tyres, parachutes, flowers, hang gliders and mixing and matching all the combinations and the results are totally random racing with the ability to keep you coming back for more to figure out the best combination. It also features 30 racers including your own Mii avatar, though only 16 are available when you first load the game.
When played on a Panasonic TV at 30FPS in multiplayer, the fluidity was stunning. Even when the action is at its peak with explosions raging in the distance and the multitude of power-ups flying around you (curse those red shells), neither the TV nor the game showed any signs of struggling.
The controls are similar to Mario Kart Wii, with the exception of whoever uses the tablet-like Wii U gamepad, who will receive the luxury of a map while racing, not that you get a chance to look at it much when the action is running. There’s also the option to play it without the need for the TV, which means you’re not necessarily locked out of playing when someone else wants to watch something.
All in all I think Mario Kart 8 should be owned by everyone currently in possession of a Wii U because, no matter how old you get, however hard you try, the 150CC mode will still drive you insane on the last lap every time. A true gaming gem and undoubtedly worthy of its hype.
Author – Andrew, Weybridge store