Oz Comic Con Hands On – ‘Mario Kart 8’
Available on: WiiU Exclusive
Released: May 30, 2014
At the recent Oz Comic Con here in Perth, I had the opportunity to get some hands on time with the newest edition to the Mario Kart franchise, MK8 – a WiiU exclusive due out in May this year. I’ve been a Mario Kart fan since the early days and as a WiiU owner I’ve been hankering for another game to play on my WiiU, which has been sadly silent since the excellent Lego City Undercover.
I played a few races, and I wasn’t disappointed. The game is fluid and fresh and gorgeous in HD 60fps. Character models and levels are crisp and bright, just what you want from a Nintendo game. The roster is increased, with the returning favourites like Bowser and Yoshi, of course Mario, Luigi and Peach (does anybody actually play as them?) and Donkey Kong joined by Toadette, Shy Guy, Lakitu, Metal Mario, Baby Mario and Luigi and newcomers the seven Koopalings. Personally I’m a big Dry Bones fan, but he isn’t included.
The levels I played were the Toad Harbour and Twisted Mansion but there’s a whopping 32 levels just like Mario Kart Wii; 16 remakes and 16 brand new. Levels like Moo Moo Meadows (Wii), Dry Dry Desert (GCN) and Toad’s Turnpike (N64) return while new levels include Sunshine Airport, Water Park, Sweet Sweet Canyon, Thwomp Ruins and Shy Guy Falls. Of course there are two Rainbow Roads, a brand new design that includes the new anti-gravity feature and a classic one based on that of the Nintendo 64. Sadly there is no Bowser’s Castle level.
Anti-gravity itself is quite fun, and the game switches effortlessly when needed meaning there isn’t anything extra for the player to contend with. Enter an Anti-grav area and the kart takes care of the rest, complete with upside down waterfalls and Peach’s hair falling the wrong way. At times the anti-grav will be used for shortcuts, or for secondary race areas, allowing for varied gameplay within the tracks. In the Twisted Mansion track, for example, the anti-grav takes you up and across undulating walls that are in no way nauseating (thats a lie, they are a total mind f*ck).
Underwater races return, as do motorbikes and hang gliders from previous games.
All in all, it feels like a perfect marriage of new and classic. That’s not to say there aren’t problems though; motion controls are, as always, a total omnishambles. My first race was using the gamepad, which can be switched between either motion or stick control. I went with the latter and found it smooth and responsive. My second was with the Wii remote, sans nunchuck as it was a demo environment and boy was that a total clusterfail. Despite my best efforts, the motion controls feel as floaty and random as they did on the Wii and I applaud anybody who can arrive at their destination whilst using them. I found myself frequently hitting walls, falling off ledges and slamming into other karts simply because the kart had either turned too far, or in many cases turned a good half second after I had done the requisite motion.
Not the greatest in a game where lag of any kind can mean staying on the track or (in the case of Rainbow Road) hurtling off into the black of space.
With Mario Kart you tend to know what you’re getting yourself into. You pick a character and a vehicle and you race til you win. This is no different but the upgrade to high definition and the inclusion of new power ups like the piranha plant make for interesting gameplay. If you already own a WiiU, buy it. You won’t be disappointed. It offers four player local and twelve player online multiplayer.
This is one game I’m definitely adding to the must haves list.