Driving Us Up The Wall - Mario Kart 8 - Wii U - www.GameInformer.com
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Mario Kart 8

Driving Us Up The Wall

With Mario Kart 8 just two months away, Nintendo is beginning to ramp up its push for one of the most important titles coming to the Wii U. The series is a perennial best seller, but this time out, more rests on Mario and company's shoulders than ever before. It's a good thing that this latest entry is up to the challenge.

We spent a few hours with the game during GDC last month, and took the Koopalings out for a spin (this is the first time they are playable since their introduction in Super Mario Bros. 3). Each of Bowser's seven minions controls differently, with Morton the heftiest of the bunch. Nintendo also let us play three newly announced returning racers: Metal Mario, Shy Guy, and Lakitu. We were also able to customize wheels, gliders, chassis, and other parts to tune vehicles for better acceleration, handling, and speed.

Our demo included four different Grand Prix events, each consisting of four tracks. Two introduced new courses, with the remainder featuring updated classic tracks making use of Mario Kart 8's extremely enjoyable new anti-grav feature.

As we raced around the tracks, we crossed into blue zones that sent our karts and bikes into hover mode. This isn't just glitz. Rather, it changes the fundamental rules of the road. Instead of slowing down when bumping an opponent, collisions result in speed boosts.

In the earliest tracks, the hover zones are simply part of the course. On more complex stages, they offer shortcuts and ways to avoid obstacles. Driving up on the walls can provide a dizzying and delightful perspective when your opponents are weaving in and out of the way of each other's shells and fireballs.

We had the opportunity to sample 16 levels – some new, some re-envisioned classics.

New Levels
Mario Kart Stadium
Water Park
Sweet Sweet Canyon
Thwomp Ruins
Mario Circuit
Toad Harbor
Twisted Mansion
Shy Guy Falls

 

Classic levels
Moo Moo Meadows (Wii)
Mario Circuit (GBA)
Cheep Cheep Beach (DS)
Toad's Turnpike (N64)
Dry Dry Desert (GCN)
Donut Plains 3 (SNES)
Royal Raceway (N64)
DK Jungle (3DS)

In addition to classic pickups, Nintendo has added two more for this outing. The boomerang is a skill-based weapon that hits and stuns everything on its way out and on the way back. Each pickup allows you to throw it three times, with the final toss sending it on its way.

The piranha plant simply affixes to your vehicle, snapping at opponents and road hazards like banana peels and goombas. Each chomp gives you a little speed boost, making this a great one to find in your item box.

Mario Kart 8 allows you to compete locally, online, or online with a friend on the couch. The title supports up to 12 players.

Nintendo is also introducing Mario Kart TV, which allows users to capture and share videos via the Miiverse. More details on this are coming in the future.

As for controls, Nintendo is giving players options. The gamepad, Wii remote (and wheel), Wii remote and nunchuck, and the pro controller are all supported. The gamepad and Wii remote can be toggled between buttons and motion control.

The pro controller worked well (as expected), but I was surprised by how improved the Wii remote option is over the last series entry. I felt more in control than I remember with Mario Kart Wii. I'd still rather play with a traditional input scheme, but steering with remote seemed improved.

There is a lot riding on Mario Kart 8, and the series typically puts up big numbers. There's no doubt in my mind that if you have a Wii U then you should be paying attention to Nintendo's returning racer. The question is whether it will help move more consoles. From where I'm racing, that seems like a given.

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Comments
  • I dont own a Wii U but its definitely nice to finally see a Mario Kart game coming out in true HD fashion. May have to swing by my friend's place and try this when it comes out!

  • Is there no AA in this game or something? The edges of everything look really jagged...

  • Shiny :o

  • That may be enough to get me to get a WiiU

  • I am really excited for this game. I haven't owned a Mario Kart game since the N64, and my daughter asks me weekly if it's available yet.
  • Holy lord! That is gorgeous!

  • This game looks terrific, very excited.
  • Really excited for this, Mario Kart has always been one of my favorite titles from Nintendo. The graphics on this look great.

  • Graphics look amazing, however I hope they do the battle mode better this time around, Mario Kart 7's, (and to a lesser extent Wii's,) were atrocious.
  • Mario Kart games were always great for a good time with friends. This new one looks to expand on that. I suddenly became very excited for this games release. :)

  • There are walls on Rainbow road. That's not allowed.
  • I will be at Game Stop at midnight to pick this bad boy up. Granted they have a midnight release
  • Wow, this looks to be one of the best Mario Kart games; I love the look of the tracks and characters.

  • Looking forward to the game, but Nintendo ALWAYS picks the WORST tracks to rerelease. Why dont they pick some exciting ones for once...
  • Looks pretty awesome, I will admit. My little sister has a Wii U, so I assume that she will get this (since she is a Mario fan) and if she does, I can give it a try.

  • This is why i'll buy a WiiU

  • Hey, GI guy, is there gonna be a midnight release of karts. Figure you work for them and maybe you can give us some light on the situation. I'm sure there's alot of people who wanna know.
  • wow this looks amazing, that Rainbow road!

  • I really wish this game was coming out for the 3DS

  • That orchestral version of Rainbow Road from N64 :')