At E3 this year, one of the most eagerly awaited games among Nintendo fans was Mario Kart 8, the next big Mario Kart game set for release in Spring 2014. The new game keeps what everyone loves about Mario Kart with the addition of HD graphics and anti-gravity. I got my chance to race on three courses from the upcoming game.
The first thing I will say is that this clearly is a Mario Kart game. It plays exactly like past games. Everything from the boost start to drifting is back. The game feels like a culmination of all past Mario Kart games. Things like motorcycles from Mario Kart Wii and air gliders from Mario Kart 7 are combined to bring to life the most fully featured Mario Kart game available.
When looking at the game in person for the first time, I was taken aback by how beautiful it looks. It is easily the best looking game Nintendo brought to E3 this year. Even though the Wii U may be lacking on power compared to its next gen counterparts, Mario Kart 8 still shines with very colorful visuals and detailed environments.
The first course I played on was a regular circuit with a castle in the middle of it. I played this course using the Wii U GamePad. As expected, Mario Kart 8 does not use the GamePad’s screen all that much. There’s a giant horn on it which one can honk during the game by touching the screen. A button on the touch screen will hide the horn and replace it with a map for those who want similar functionally to Mario Kart 7’s use of the second screen. While motion controls were available on the GamePad, I stuck with the analog stick. There’s not much to say about this course, it’s a run-of-the-mill Mario Kart course. There were some opportunities to see the new anti-gravity feature in action, but I missed those trying to get to first place.
The second course I played represented a small city. Tighter corners and a smaller width of the road made this course very different from the last one I played. In this course, I got to see how anti-gravity will change Mario Kart’s gameplay. When the opportunity came to enter a blue lane, my kart moved on its side to reveal a brand new lane. Anti-gravity will not only make you lose track of your kart’s orientation, but it will also hold multiple ways to tackle each track. Figuring out the shortest routes will prove to be a tougher challenge for gamers this time around.
I also played the second course using a different control style. I played it using the Wii Remote held to its side, similar to Mario Kart Wii. I felt that the motion controls felt tighter and easier to play with compared to its Wii predecessor.
The third and final course resembled a haunted mansion. This course required players to enter an anti-gravity lane from the get-go as I raced on the walls of the mansion rather than its floor. The course also took advantage of the underwater and arial features of Mario Kart 7. I struggled in this level due to lots of sharp turns which led my opponent to be victorious over me.
I walked away from my experience with Mario Kart 8 knowing that the game is shaping up to be the best Mario Kart game available. Not only does the game play like you think it would, it will also add amazing features such as 12 player online multiplayer and Mario Kart TV which will allow users to upload footage of their gameplay sessions for others to watch via Miiverse. Mario Kart 8 is definitely one to look forward to.