Why Mario Kart 8 is Freakin’ Awesome

The King of Karting makes a triumphant return”

Another Nintendo console, another Mario Kart; the series has appeared on every Nintendo console, both home and hand-held, since the SNES and has been a staple of multiplayer fun ever since. There have been numerous imitators - including a brilliant Crash Bandicoot racer on the PlayStation - but none have the lasting appeal of the original series that started the kart racing obsession. While the series has evolved over the years, the basic gameplay has remained essentially the same. After all, if it ain’t broke, right? This latest instalment takes everything that made the series great and perfects it, and it truly is the best Mario Kart ever.

I’m going to start by talking about one of the most obvious upgrades: the graphics in this game are beautiful. It truly looks amazing in HD, including all the character and course detail, and makes a great game even more pleasurable to play. Graphically, this is the best looking kart racer ever (though the lack of competition on HD consoles probably makes that a given). There isn’t a great deal more I can say about it other than it looks fantastic, including a silky smooth frame-rate that never once falters. A nice little touch I noticed was the presence of skid marks when drifting round corners, especially when using the gravity-defying rules of the game (yeah, you can drive on walls/ceilings now. It’s pretty cool). Drift marks are created when going round a corner and, I was looking out for this when I noticed them, stay for the duration of the race. I thought this was an excellent little feature to include and demonstrate well the attention to detail in this game.

The game looks glorious in motion. Also, bikes!

As in Mario Kart 7, there are a variety of components for your vehicle that will affect its stats, such as weight, acceleration and overall top speed. Some of these components can make a decent bit of difference to the abilities of your kart, though I’m always wary of there being one particular set that is the best and people solely using that; thus far that isn’t the case, but it could turn out to be. Also, as per Mario Kart Wii, bikes make a return. While they handle better than ever, I still prefer racing with a proper kart, but each to their own, and I appreciate the inclusion.

There are a number of characters available to choose from in the game, including many new comers such as the Koopalings, who haven’t been seen since Super Mario 3D Land. There are also numerous baby characters - I’d argue perhaps a few too many, as I would have liked to see other, more unique characters from the Mario universe, but I guess that’s what DLC is for.

Without Snow White the dwarves really let themselves go

Speaking of DLC, I also hope we get more tracks for the game. MK8 boasts the, now standard, set-up of four Grand Prix’s featuring four new tracks per tourney and four Grand Prix’s featuring four retro tracks per tourney. While this is plenty of tracks to play on, I can imagine, as with every other kart racer that playing the same 32 tracks over and over will get boring. I hope DLC is released with new tracks and updated old ones, such as are included in this game. 

A quick note on controls: they are sharp and responsive and very easy to learn. I haven’t once thought there was any input lag whatsoever and every time something goes wrong for me I’m well aware it’s my own fault and the game was just doing as I told it to. The controls are some of the tightest in any racing game ever, in fact, and are near perfect.

There are plenty of modes to keep you busy in MK8, including single player Grand Prix’s, Time Trials, VS races and Battle Modes. There's split-screen multiplayer, which is the bread-and-butter of Mario Kart, that includes most of these modes. Then there’s online, which can be played in single or two player. The online works absolutely flawlessly, with no lag or slowdown; getting into a race/battle is easy and fast and you’ll soon find yourself racing for hours trying to beat random people online to prove you’re the best. At no point does the game seem unfair: it is perfectly balanced and is mainly down to the player’s skill on how they come out on the leaderboard at the end.

This truly is the best Mario Kart ever made thus far and every fan of the series, or fans of fast, frenetic fun, deserves to try it out and have a blast with it. See you on the track.

Final Score: 10/10

‘Til next time, this has been Jubby writing for The Awesome Update.

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