Mario Kart 8 Drove Me Up The Walls… In A Good Way

Mario Kart 8 Drove Me Up The Walls… In A Good Way

The original Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo was a game that quite literally ended friendships back in the day. Now, over two decades later, the latest addition to the series, Mario Kart 8 is headed for the Wii U next spring, and I got a chance for a little hands-on time at this year’s Jump Festa 2014 in Japan.

I should probably preface this by stating that I have not played any of the Mario Kart games except for the original. I kind of avoided the series after watching a match between a couple friends end in punches, so I haven’t really kept up with how the games have evolved. That said, playing the demo for Mario Kart 8 was quite fun.

First off, I got to choose from 12 characters: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Toad, Wario, Waruigi, Koopa, and Toadette. Sadly, the baby characters and Rosalina were not available in the demo. After choosing Mario, I got to play through 3 courses: A standard circuit with one upside-down area, a resort circuit with obstacles and hidden paths, and a haunted circuit with traps and an underwater area.

Overall, the game mechanics are fairly intuitive — press the A button to accelerate, the right trigger to drift, use the directional key for items, and rotate the controller to steer. By going off of a big jump, you also automatically open a glider that you can then control the pitch of by tilting the controller.

Being a demo, the courses were pretty straight-forward. I imagine that with some time and practice, I could probably have performed a lot better, but in the end I managed — with some difficulty at points — to come in first on all three races.

Visually, I have no complaints. The bright atmosphere works to enhance the feel of the game and I never got tired of looking at the screen, or any motion sickness for that matter. There are areas where courses run upside-down, but the screen remains normal with your surroundings upside-down, so when you’re concentrating on driving you never really have a chance to appreciate it. I had more fun driving sideways on the walls because your character goes sideways, making it more engaging and mixing things up.

One potential drawback is the fact that you use the Wii U controller as a steering wheel. While the controller itself isn’t that heavy, long hours of use could lead to some very tired arms. Also, because you’re turning the controller to steer, I’m not sure if/how you’ll be able to play on just the controller.

I was only able to scratch the surface, but Mario Kart 8 definitely looks to be a lot of fun. It does feel like more of its potential is tapped as a party game, but then again, I’ve seen how those can end…

Mario Kart 8 is scheduled for release in autumn 2014.


    • Yeah traditional controllers are supported. Nearly every WiiU game uses the WiiU traditional controller such as New Super Mario Bros. U, Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD and the upcoming DonkeyKong Country Tropical Freeze.

  • I know Mario kart kicked off the kart craze, but this game looks like a poor mans Sonic Transformed. Man that was a good game.

    • I’ve got both the Sonic games (360 & wiiU) – they are amazing however I’m pretty confident Mario can reclaim the kart crown.

    • The reason why it Sonic and Sega Racing games will never usurp the Mario Kart games is simple:

      Mario Kart gives you full control of the vehicle, if you were placed in an open world, rather than a racetrack, you could still move the vehicle around freely and fluidly.

      Sonic/Sega Racing feels more like you’re being pulled along by some invisible force, like you’re riding in an inflatable donut tethered to a speed boat. It’s fun, and there’s some skill involved, but overall, there’s no real punishment for screwing up, as you’re always going to be pulled along at high speeds.

  • “Visually, I have no complaints.” seems like a bit of an understatement. I can’t get over how good this game looks graphically for a Wii U title. It goes to show that art direction is above all the most important asset to a game’s graphics.

    I’ve been more impressed by the footage of this game than some of the ‘next-gen’ titles on Xbox One and PS4.

    Still won’t buy a Wii U though.

  • So, can’t help but notice that the second photo has the Japanese Smash Bros logos. Was it, dare I ask, playable?

  • Mario Kart on the SNES was the pinnacle of fun. 64 version was great as well…but lame AI catchup and rubberbanding are stupid. Every version after that has been more and more n00b friendly. Coming last? here is an infinite amount of good items….

    Every version that comes out now, craps all over the legacy of the original that little bit more

    • I haven’t noticed any rubber banding in mario kart wii – I play it with my kid and I find the AI pretty brutal lol, when you fall behind it’s hard to catch back up

  • So we have a guy giving his impressions on Mario Kart 8gameplay etc who hasn’t played any apart from the original?

  • From what i can tell its MK7 with better visuals, new tracks, new gravity gimmick. Bring it on. MK7 is by far the best out of all the Mario Kart games to be released.

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