It was almost as if, for a second, Nintendo had given me something I didn't know I wanted, but I really, really wanted.
I'd just finished my first race in Mario Kart 8 and a few things stood out for me. Average, regular things.
For example: the game looked great. Like properly great. Not great for a Wii U game great. Just great. So that was great. Watching Mario's moustache flutter in the wind, in HD at 60 frames per second — it was great. It was a reminder that the Wii U, given the right art style actually has the power to dazzle the player from a visual standpoint. I still think that Wind Waker HD is the best looking game ever to this point. Mario Kart 8 is on that tier.
The controls. Equally satisfactory. A little too familiar, but with enough additions to feel fresh. Driving in zero gravity wasn't quite different enough for me to distinguish between regular racing and racing upside down. That was a little disappointing, but I loved that when you're upside down bumping into other cars gives you a speed boost instead of slowing you down. Bumper cars is fun, therefore this should be fun and an interesting strategic addition.
But then the thing that I didn't expect at all. A video editor. A Nintendo-fied video editor. I'm going to try and explain what that means.
At the end of each race, Mario Kart 8 allows you to create, watch and then upload videos of your races to YouTube.
Let me say this again: Nintendo is allowing you to UPLOAD VIDEOS OF YOU PLAYING MARIO KART 8 ONTO YOUTUBE. Directly from the game. I was sort of shocked by that. In a good way. It's just not the sort of thing you expect from Nintendo. In a lot of ways it feels like a massive step forward.
But it's limited, also in a good way. Sort of. You don't have an endless layer of options in Mario Kart 8's video editor, but you do have an interesting series of choices. You can, for example, have the replay focus on the use of items, thus creating a brilliant montage of players smashing the shit out of each other with red shells and what not. You can also choose which players to focus on. In that sense it's very 'Nintendo' — a safe, walled garden that provides with the best results possible — but I think that's a positive. You can have a well edited, serviceable replay in seconds and, like the game itself, they look fantastic.
Mario Kart is such a social thing. The ability to create and share videos in this manner seems like an obvious step forward for the Mario Kart series, but it's one I never thought Nintendo would take. It feels incredible to type these words considering how predictable the series has become, but Mario Kart 8 genuinely surprised me.