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So I played Mario Kart 8...

On 07/02/2014 at 06:04 PM by Raised_on_Nintendo

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And I like it!

I held off from buying MK8 for a few weeks, but finally caved and bought it on a very boring day.  If I knew more people who planned on buying it, I would have bought it on day one, but alas, I know none, which sucks, because I'm all about playing multiplayer.  Simply put, I hate gaming alone.  On top of that, the Mario Kart Wii experience was fantastic.  Many friends also had it, and on any given night there'd be 6-10 of us playing simultaneously online, which was a blast.  I would go as far as saying that MKWii was the best online multiplayer experience of my life.  I guess what I'm trying to say here is that MK8 is a better game, but MKWii, so far, was a better overall experience, which isn't the game's fault by any means.  Here's a breakdown of some of the newness:


The HD visuals are superb, and, quite frankly, long overdue.  What more can I say?  It looks great.

Bike/Kart Balancing

My major pet peeve of MKWii was the bikes.  They seemed to have a slight speed advantage, as evidenced by racing against top-ranked ghost data, and other skilled racers online.  Wheelie, wheelie, wheelie... 'Nuff said.  Thankfully, that advantage appears to be neutralized... APPEARS to be.  I haven't put enough time in to really tell for sure.  I don't enjoy racing on a bike.  It's Mario Kart, dammit, not Mario Bike.  The steering of the bikes never felt right to me, so I stuck with the karts, and am glad I can do so this time around without feeling at a disadvantage, if ever so slight.


To me, the anti-gravity aspect is mostly superficial.  The vehicles behave the same as they would with wheels on the ground.  While the player may in fact be racing upside-down, the farthest the camera angle will rotate is to the side, which is good, because racing upside-down would be pretty tough.  As long as you are focused on the track, you never actually feel upside down.  That is unless the focus of your gaze wanders to the background.  In that case, it will mess with your head a little bit.

While in anti-gravity mode, players may activate a boost by bumping into another racer.  This can also be done by bumping into "bumpers" located on the track.  For the most part, I avoid the bumpers.  They're never located on the tightest racing line, and steering away to hit one usually sends me off the track or out of control.  Considering this, anti-gravity doesn't add much in terms of execution.

Online Play

Online matchmaking is similar to that of MKWii, with a few tweaks.  A player's rank begins at 1000, not 5000.  This may create a perception of a level playing field.  A beginner at 1000 rank entering a lobby against someone with a rank of 3000 may feel less intimidated than against one of 9000, although 3000 is probably equivalent to 9000 in terms of skill.  Also, this might help add replay value, as achieving 9000 will take considerably more time starting at 1000 than at 5000.

Selecting which course to race is also different.  Instead of having all 32 courses to choose from, only a pre-selected 3 are available, with the 4th selection being a random selection of those 3.  This helps prevent racing the same track back to back, or the opportunity for a player who is skilled at one course from selecting that same course repeatedly.  

Another added feature is tournaments.  While not entirely new (MK7 on 3DS had 'em), it's a departure from the regularly ranked races, can be modified to allow certain items and other variables, and is still fairly competitive.  It also has its own unique ranking, so players who are serious about their public rank have an alternate competitive option to play when they want without affecting their standard 1000+ rank.

Worth mentioning, but not a big deal, are the chat bubbles.  Chat bubbles were available in MKWii only in arranged matches.  Now in MK8 they can be used in public matches.  Still no voice chat, though.

Other Subtle Changes I Noticed

-The frequency of Blue Shells has diminished greatly.  I'm hard-pressed to remember a race when I saw one more than once.  I will say, though, that they always seem to be launched during the second lap...  while I'm in first place...  and 2nd place is right behind me...   Grrr...   Also, Blue Shells travel along the ground in MK8, like in previous MK's, but not in MKWii, which saw them travel through the sky.  

-Item boxes seem to regenerate faster than in MKWii, which I like.  

-Falling off the track is now more forgiving.  Cloud-riding Lakitu swoops down fairly quickly, grabs you, and usually drops you ahead of where you fell off the track.

-About Blue Shells - they no longer force the player to drop the item they were holding when struck.

-Even more about Blue Shells - they can be destroyed using the Super Horn!  Finally, a bona fide method for defending against the dreaded Blue Shell.

-While dragging an item, a player connot receive another item by collecting an item block.  I personally don't like this feature.


There's a lot more I could say about the game - new items, new characters, new courses, etc - but I'm not here to give a full rundown of the game.  For that, check out this site.  There's nothing I would call "revolutionary" about MK8, and that's fine.  It's an already excellent franchise that shows incremental improvement with each release, and rightfully so, MK8 is now the best.  Players of MKWii should be able to seemlessly transition to MK8.



Matt Snee Staff Writer

07/02/2014 at 08:15 PM

yeah i had a lot of fun playing the Wii version too.  I love 8, it looks great, feels great, etc.  But I haven't gotten as into it as I did the Wii version, which did have flaws. 

Glad you are enjoying it though, it's a great game!

Captain N

07/02/2014 at 08:25 PM

I got it at launch and have been playing it since, it's really fun. I like alot of the new changes. I think the anti-gravity feature is neat, it just didn't have the same impact that Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed had with the transforming vehicles. I think the reason you can only stock one item is to balance the items, since the horn balanced the shell in a way. The problem is that you don't see it often enough to counter it, but I can see why they did it.

The online, I haven't been to public online yet but I've played with friends and it's alot of fun. There is online voice chat when playing with friends so that's neat. The thing is that you can't chat during a race. Overall the game is great, I love it, I lov eeverything about it, the only thing people seem to hate is the lack of traditional Battle Mode courses, and I can see the complain. But the game is really good, if you wanna race let me know.

Super Step Contributing Writer

07/03/2014 at 12:24 AM

I don't think you'll have problems finding people to play with if you ask around this site. Seems like everyone has a copy. 

Cary Woodham

07/03/2014 at 05:22 AM

It may not be my favorite Mario Kart game, but it is certainly the best looking one.


07/03/2014 at 11:55 AM

Nice write up--I agree with pretty much everything you said. The game is lots of fun but not radically different from what's come before--the anti-grav stuff is mostly inconsequential, if sometimes disorienting.

One thing about the blue shells and other items--the difficulty also affects their frequency of appearance. While playing on 50cc, for example, I got hammered by them all the time, but I could play entire Cups on 150cc and maybe only see one or two of the danged things. This goes for other items as well; even when lagging behind, the best I usually get on 150cc are three mushrooms.

Anyway, the game is beautiful and a lot of fun, and it's hard to be too disappointed. Battle mode flunked this time, of course, but I hardly ever played that anyway. I would have liked another track or two based on the SNES and GBA versions (especially one of the Bowser's Castle tracks), but in the end, this is a fine release for the Wii U.


07/03/2014 at 09:22 PM

I agree that a couple older retro tracks should have been included.  I like the Wii and 3DS ones that are there, but they are so new, the don't feel retro at all.


07/03/2014 at 09:28 PM

Hey, I just realized that it's you, Pacario, from 1up.  Glad to see you.  I always enjoyed your blogs.  Good to see another familiar face!


07/04/2014 at 01:33 AM

Yep, eet's ah me, as Mario would say. I'm pretty sporadic with the blogs these days, although I did just write one concerning my impressions of the Wii U--got one last week.


07/05/2014 at 06:01 PM

I read that blog.  Very good read.  I agree with your assessment, especially about the lack of interesting apps, and inclusion of subpar ones.  The Wii TV app just plain old sucks.  Make sure to check out Mario 3D World.  Loved that game.   Lots of content.  Take care.


07/10/2014 at 12:48 PM

Is it much better to have online friend matches in this version. When i finally tried out the Wii's version of Mario Kart during the Wii's final online days, it wasn't that user friendly or helpful in finding connetions and friends altogether. It made me want to go back and play with myself.

myself in teh game I mean. Single player. You know what I mean!

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