May 30, 2014 was the day my son had been looking forward to. This was the day that Mario Kart 8 would be available in the store. As an avid gamer myself, I understood why he wanted the game. Mario and his brother Luigi rule the gaming world if you ask me. The games are always colorful, adventurous, and challenging, and you can’t help but to get hooked on them.
The first and probably the only thing I didn’t like about the game was its price. Just like other popular new releases, it costs $59.99, which is pretty much the max for a WII U game of this caliper. I remember the shock on a mom’s face in the store when she heard the total price at the register. I paid a little over $64 after tax, which was quite an investment. I took consolation in the fact that after outgrowing the game, you can always resell it and still get a descent amount for it.
Characters and Tracks
Luckily, I quickly found out that my investment was well worth it. As if the smile on my son’s face wasn’t enough, the game itself turned out to be addictive and fun. First you get to choose a character. There are 16 characters to choose from. All the Mario kart favorites are available; in addition to Mario and Luigi (both as adults or babies), you can also choose to race as Princess Peach, Bowser, toad and Donkey Kong. As you progress through the game, there are 14 more characters available to unlock. In addition to choosing a character, you also get to choose from different tracks. There are a total of eight cups, each consisting of four courses. Cups range from the Mushroom and Water Park Cup to the Thwomp Ruins and Sweet Sweet Canyon.
Vehicles and Weapons
Although the game is called Mario Kart, there are also ATVs and bikes to choose from. Players get to put together their own vehicle, choosing its body, wheels and flying mechanism. Just like Mario Kart 7 for the Nintendo 3DS, racers also get to pick up weapons to combat each other throughout each course. The invincible star, turtle shells and banana peels all make a comeback in this game. You’ll also encounter some new weapons, such as the piranha plant, Super Horn, Boomerang Flower and Crazy 8.
One feature that differs from Mario Kart 7 is that the vehicles have an anti-graffiti feature that allows them to basically hover above the ground. During gameplay the wheels automatically switch back and forth to engage this feature. Drivers also get to ride under water and on the walls and ceilings, which makes for a nice addition.
Mario Kart 8 can be played in several steering modes. You can set the game to respond to your hand motion, allowing you to mimic the motion you would make if you were steering a steering wheel. You can even purchase a steering wheel to add to your gameplay experience. You can also just use the motion buttons on the WII U game pad or remote. I found that these made for easier steering and more enjoyable gameplay.
Overall, Mario Kart 8 doesn’t disappoint, partly because its creators stuck with the familiar game play that the fans are used to. There are no unpleasant surprises, and with the almost guaranteed success of this game, Mario Kart 9 is most likely already in the making.