Drivers, Start Your (Mario Kart) Engines… - subsaint Blog -
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Drivers, Start Your (Mario Kart) Engines…

I spent the better part of last night and much of today playing the new Mario Kart 8. Wow, what a game. You know, the Wii U might not have a lot of games available, but the ones it does are spectacular. I've played the New Super Mario Bros. U, New Super Luigi U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and now Mario Kart 8, and they've all been exceptional. I'd go as far as saying...near perfect.

It's hard to believe, but I've been playing Mario Kart for over 20 years now. The first one was released in 1992 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and since then we've seen a half dozen or more sequels to the original. I've played them all. Truth be told, this might just be my favorite one yet.

Here's why...

Stunning Graphics

I used to think Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze had the best graphics I'd seen on the Wii U, but I think Mario Kart 8 might've outdone it by just a narrow margin. The levels are simply beautiful. The attention to detail is spot on and every level is a marvel to behold. The game features 16 brand new tracks and 16 tracks from some of the previous games. It's challenging to pick a favorite, especially when you see how wonderful one of your favorite tracks from the past looks with an extreme track makeover. I'd have to say my favorite track is Sunshine Airport.

As you race around and through an airport, you're treated to some wonderful views as planes take off and land around you. It is definitely a cool map. Then again, replaying Moo Moo Meadows and GBA Mario Circuit was a real treat too. Everything about the tracks are aesthetically pleasing and it's easy to lose track of what you're doing as you look around at all of the little details.

Spectacular Audio

Most Nintendo games have a collection of amazing audio tracks to complement the game play and Mario Kart 8 is no exception. There are traces of some of the old sound tracks present in the new sound tracks, but there are definitely some new beats too. The bottom line is, the music and sound effects in the game are perfect.

Tense Game Play

Whether you're playing single player or multiplayer, the racing is as tense as it's ever been. But what makes Mario Kart 8 truly special is the 12 player online racing. Gamers from around the world fire up their engines and race head to head. Just today, I (or should I say we - I was playing and watching my son play) raced gamers from Japan, Germany, France and even Switzerland. The way Nintendo set up the lobby and matchmaking is brilliant. Your little Mii is hanging out and you see everybody else's Mii. Then you get to vote on your choice of a few different tracks and it randomly selects one. All the while you can sit and chat with the other Miis. You never have to wait long to get in a battle and the whole process is very streamline and efficient.

Plenty of Options

The original Super Mario Kart offered you eight playable characters. Well, from what I've read about Mario Kart 8, you will have 47 characters: 15 default, 27 unlockable and 5 offered as DLC. That is a huge difference - 8 to 47. Besides having a ton of characters to choose from, the vehicle options are equally extensive. I don't know how many different body and tire types there are, but suffice it to say...there are a lot of combinations. Nintendo really did a good job offering diversity in driver and cart options. The biggest challenge you'll face is figuring out who you want to play and what you want them to drive.

Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

There are all sorts of racing games, and I don't just mean realistic car racing games. I mean, racing games like Mario Kart. Well, Nintendo always manages in succeeding to make Mario Kart one f the best and part of the reason they do this is they never quit innovating. Mario Kart 8 has a few new power ups and even a couple of tricks up their sleeve with the tracks. They also made a few subtle tweaks that some might like, others might not. For example, the blue turtle doesn't just race to the front and hit the it races to the front to the hit the leader, but it can hit others along the way who are slow to move over. There's also this element of collecting 10 coins for a small performance boost, but if you get hit or run off the side, you lose some of them, much like Sonic would lose rings if he ran into something he wasn't supposed to. Of course if you've read about the game then you already know all about the anti-gravity levels, the underwater levels and the new Rainbow Road level. All true!

The game is fun, it's beautiful and it is truly a testament to Nintendo's ability to build a rock solid game based off of one of their most popular titles. Far be it for me to give the game a review score, but I will say if you have a Wii U, do yourself a favor and play this game. It's a blast!

Have a wonderful weekend.