Mario Kart 8 Review – Not the Blue Shell!

Platform(s): Wii U
Developer(s): Nintendo EAD, Bandai Namco Games
Publisher(s): Nintendo
Release Date: May 30 2014
Amiibo Support:
Estimated Price: $49.99 

Some people may remember Mario Kart from way back on the NES, or the N64 if you’re like me. The days where you begged your parents to let your friends come over just so you can break your friendships by throwing blue shells at eachother all the way through the game. Well hands on steering wheel and gears in 8 because Mario Kart 8 is the absolute bomb!

The Story  New Features!

Hey! Don’t look at me like that, I love my stories too, but Mario kart has always been a game where you just pick it up, and drop it whenever you like. I’m sure if you looked around on-line enough you could find some sort of fan made story to Mario Kart. So I decided to add new features as Mario Kart is one of those games with the same play style just painted over shiny. Either way, they did a pretty good job of making Mario Kart 8 feel like a completely different game. There’s tons of new stuff to go over, trust me, it’s worth a read. Here’s a list:
New Characters: There is a metric ton of new characters, some of them are kinda just re-skins though, like metal Mario and Gold Peach. Though some of these new characters actually have different advantages such as extra acceleration due to their tiny size *salutes Baby Mario*, an average statistics set for medium racers, and weight/speed to smash your opponents off of that damn Rainbow Road with heavy characters (I actually love that level before anyone asks. And another side note, after some research Rosalina is a heavy type… I wonder what kind of stuff she’s packing in that slender body of hers, too much pasta from Mario I think).
Items: Items, items, items for everyone! These new items are awesome, my favourite being the Crazy 8 because it gives you a tons of random items. There’s also the Boomerang, my least favourite, it just throws out a boomerang and is real hard to control and aim (I might just be bad at the game.) A super horn, I love this item, thanks Nintendo, now I can flip the bird at my friends as I use to block any of those damn blue spiky shells from pulling me back to 5th place. Last but not least, the piranha plant, it shoots fire… It’s kinda cool I guess, it’s great if you can aim properly.
Anti-Gravity: Possibly the best thing in my honest opinion, it adds so much more life to the tracks and gives a bunch more creativity for up-coming tracks in the series, plus it kinda feels like Tron when your motorbike changes out and there’s a bunch of flashy lights going on.
New tracks: Some of the new tracks aren’t exactly my favourite (I enjoyed them all.) but others such as the new Rainbow road are totally awesome, and with the addition of anti-gravity these tracks are much more full of chaos than there has been in Mario Kart for ages!
Mario Kart TV: Ever have those moments where you do something totally awesome in a track, and tell your friends about it at school and they never believe you? Then welcome to Mario Kart TV, where you can upload reviews and highlights of the races you’ve done and watch as hilarity ensues as a meme of Luigi is scattered across the internet (I never go near Luigi after seeing that meme…)


Mario kart 8

There’s some scary stuff in Mari- Luigi Kart! I mean Luigi Kart!

I’ve always loved the game-play of Mario Kart, you literally just start the game click a couple of buttons and boom, you’re right in the game racing away. The aim of Mario Kart is well, to win the four races for one of the cups. But it’s the racing that really gives this game the kick, it’s not like any other driving game, you’re given a bunch of items, some very useful and some that are better used to save that nice back seat you’ve got there (Carry on being beautiful viewers.) You pick your character, your kart and your track, and then thrown into a bunch of other racers who, AI or real life friends, are out there to keep you in the back of the pack. Mario Kart can be stressful when you’re in first place and you see that blue shell icon at the bottom of your screen (Happens to me every race, no joke) and then you have to sit there and watch as 8 drivers go on by laughing and whooping as your’re left in their pixelated dust. This become even more stressful when the laughing comes from the friend sitting right next as you’re smashed into by his bullet bill that never seemed to stop going. Though it’s not all about racing, if you know you’re aims good and you’ve played some Carmageddon, then head over to battle mode, where you can turn that evil smile of theirs upside down! In battle mode you’re given a few options to choose from, such as capture the star or just smash your friends kart to nothing and steal their balloons to win the match. Either way it’s a great relief from just racing around all of the time.

Another great thing about Mario Kart 8 is that if you feel really out of control of your kart and just can’t seem to make corners properly, you can make edits to your vehicle which makes it a ton easier to manoeuvre around tracks and gain the edge you need to take the golden cups! Other than that, the controls are fairly simple, you press one button to drive, another to break and reverse, a single button to blow your friends up with a bomb-omb (Note, you need one from an item box, does not just blow them up.) and one last to jump and drift corners. Then you’re given the choice of either pressing left and reight to steer, or actually using the Wii U gamepad or Wii remote to steer like a real car. If you find yourself too far from the screen and can’t find your glasses there’s also the option enable Wii U gamepad view, and you can see the whole game on the touch screen (Thanks Nintendo, this actually really helped me out.)

Mario Kart 8

There’s some kind of time paradox around here somewhere…

There’s a lot of games going around right now that have just simply stunning graphics, and Mario Kart 8 is another. The cars look like they’re actually built from pieces rather than just one large wooden block, there’s a ton of burn marks that stay there throughout the race as people have either taken or corner or swerved off of the road to their inevitable last place and the lighting is very cheery. The music is also very catchy and will keep you humming on your way to school or work and that new Rainbow Road sound track is just taking the cake. I believe Nintendo has done a very good job of pointing the graphics, sounds and music at their target audience and this is why it was well looked forward to, even by adults themselves. So thumbs up Nintendo, you did a great job! 

Mario Kart 8

Bowser looks pretty worried watching me fly in at 120 miles per hour.

Let's go racing with Mario and crew!

Normally I have a few quirks about Mario Kart and how some tracks are just plain boring, but with the new Anti-Gravity and awesome graphics and soundtracks. The new items make it more chaotic and a ton of fun to invite friends over to play. I think Nintendo did themselves a favour here and made an absolutely epic game that definitely has its place on my games shelf. Now get out there and start burning up them tracks!

Rock on!

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About The Author

Keith Mitchell
Editor-in-chief and all-around good guy!

Keith Mitchell is the Founder and Editor in Chief of The Outerhaven. A grizzled IT professional during the day, but a passionate lover of video games after his 9-5 grid. Loves playing the Dark Souls series and has been gaming since he was 6 years old. Available for podcasts upon request.