GAME NAME: Mario Kart 8
PLATFORM(S): Wii U
RELEASE DATE(S): Spring 2014
This forthcoming title is the new ‘Mario Kart’ entry for the Wii U, as it features the best of its previous offerings and some anti-gravity racing. It’s going to be a long wait as this title will be released by spring 2014, but I’ve played it at this year’s Eurogamer Expo, so here are my early verdicts on this game.
I went on the multiplayer mode, and I faced against another person on a series of three tracks. The first course, set around the Mushroom Kingdom, introduces the concept of anti-gravity sections, which allows players to go around the warped track at different angles. The second level takes riders into a seaside town with branching paths, and the third takes place in a ghost mansion, which blends in underwater and mid-air flying sections. Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed usually switches between paths on each lap, but – especially with the third course – Mario Kart 8 goes for the same route between laps.
The anti-gravity sections, which makes up as its main feature, are much likely to embrace the whole game. There are shortcuts in the second course, where players can scale up the walls to reach higher parts of the track. It’s quite a while since we witnessed the ultra-fast gameplay of F-Zero GX (on the Gamecube), where players raced through many parts of the track on the sides, through loops and even upside down. The fact that it’s been over 8 years since the last F-Zero game came out, and the sight of anti-grav racing in Mario Kart 8, means the mechanic is not only something that Nintendroids would easily cherish with, but it will also make this game fresh. However, I notice that it takes in a lot of features from the previous games, including paragliding and bikes, which are likely to clutter the game so much that people might prefer to stick with Mario Kart 64 or F-Zero GX. It ‘may’ have the anti-gravity mechanic as a major feature and revolutionise every new track in the game, but it still may not be for everyone.
The graphics in the game are very detailed, which could go well in HD and at 60 fps. The control scheme for the Wii U gamepad is good too, especially that the motion control of steering worked much effectively. Its screen is used to show driver position listings and it has a big button for hooting at the other drivers; the latter may not sound interesting, as players would rather use the screen to show the mini-map, like in Mario Kart DS. The map on screen might be featured in the final version of the game, but in the demo, it’s disabled. This could be due to the fact that one player holds the Wii U gamepad, as other uses the Wii remote, so it would be fair if both players have the same rights of information on display.
No matter how much it compares to its predecessors, Mario Kart 8 still features that winning formula of its gameplay, and more importantly that the anti-grav mechanic is likely to spice up the tracks, which are in fact nicely designed. There is no doubt that it may become one of the most popular titles on the Nintendo Wii U, but nevertheless, this game is fun and the multiplayer is a blast to play. It’s going to be interesting to see more of its features, and hopefully an ability to support two (Wii U) gamepads, as we get to its release date.