More than twenty years ago, Nintendo proposed to Super NES owners a particular racing game, where the most famous plumber of the Kyoto house and his cast of supporting actors, were armed to the teeth riding colored karts, Super Mario Kart it was released in 1992 in Japan and America, while in Europe it had to wait for the following year, and it was immediately a great success.
Over the years, the series has always been a flagship title and among the system sellers of the reference console, improving most of the time, both in the cast and in the game mechanics.
And so, after Mario barth 7, which introduced the glider, with relative aerial phases, underwater sections and tracks divided into sectors and not revolutions, next May 30 will finally mark the debut of the brand on the new Nintendo home console.
Mario barth 8 come on Wii U with many differences compared to its predecessors, both in the actual gameplay and in the graphic aspect: will this eighth chapter succeed in satisfying our expectations and maintaining the quality standard of the previous ones?
Watch Mom: Gravity Free!
The series Mario Kart has always had a solid and very similar gameplay in all its iterations, although each chapter presented something "new": from the double driver, to the motorcycle, to the hang glider, the main goal of the karts and the players consequently, was that to run as much as possible, accumulating turbo thanks to the drift, dodging the opponents in order not to waste time in reaching the coveted goal.
Mario barth 8 is no exception, although it adds a new mechanic that could completely overturn the ultimate race result: theAnti-Gravity pushes the player to collide with other runners, to gain speed and valuable positions.
That option that during the preview test last July seemed to us only an aesthetic addition, capable of making you run upside down or vertically while dodging obstacles, renews everything that makes Mario Kart one of the cornerstones of racing arcades.
In fact, by hitting certain objects scattered on the Anti-Gravity areas, or by throwing yourself at your opponents, you will activate the Turbo crash, a special spin that will give a slight acceleration to both contenders, instead of slowing them down as it normally happens.
Anti-Gravity not only adds the Turbo Clash to the other racing techniques already acclaimed and reconfirmed such as Drift, Mini-turbo, Rocket Start and Turbo Jump, but it becomes a fundamental “weapon” for online races and for tactical overtaking in the real competitive game.
The 16 classic tracks of Mario Kart 8, recovered as usual from the old chapters, have almost all been completely revisited for the first time in the history of the brand, adding entire sections in Anti-Gravity, and being recognizable only thanks to the characteristic elements of the course : for example, the Rainbow Track of Mario Kart 64 has been divided into three sections and is almost entirely composed of Anti-Gravity phases, making it completely new compared to the past but maintaining the characteristic features such as the external fireworks and the diabolical curves .
Anti-Gravity slightly upgrades the solid and proven gameplay of the series and, unlike what happened in Mario Kart 7 with aerial and underwater sections, it also moves the real competitive mechanics of the title by providing new rules in the areas dedicated to them.
Stories of Karting and Characters
After taking a chapter off, the bikes of Mario Kart Wii are back on the slopes of Mario barth 8, with a recalibrated speed and wheelie possible only using the Scatto Mushrooms, alongside them are the Quads, four-wheeled vehicles with intermediate and more balanced performance than karts and motorcycles.
As already seen in Mario Kart 7, the difference between one vehicle and another will again be due to the different combination of three pieces: the structure (you can choose one of the models of one of the three vehicles mentioned), the wheels and the hang glider; each combination will increase or decrease certain statistics of the vehicle, and will guarantee advantages and disadvantages on the track, there are over 52 pieces to choose from, obtainable through the coins scattered in the paths (which we will talk about shortly).
The last variant to take into account is the weight of the character: even if from the previous chapter for 3DS the whole cast will be able to drive any model of vehicle, the statistics will be slightly different between those of Toad (light character) who can count on acceleration and out. track, compared to a Bowser (heavy character) who sees the statistics of weight and speed higher, to tip the balance the average characters like Mario, who have balanced statistics and base their performance on the vehicle created by the player.
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In the cast of Mario Kart 8 we find thirty characters (all shown during the last direct) including some new entries such as little Baby Rosalinda and Peach Oro Rosa who debut in the universe of the Mushroom Kingdom with this new racing title.
Big absentee of the roster certainly Bowser Jr., which leaves room for Bowser's seven henchmen who are also divided by weight range and offer a more than worthy visual variety; if your favorite character has not been included in the main cast, do not despair: it cannot be excluded that, following the path taken by Mario Golf World Tour, Nintendo will not add additional characters, tracks or pieces of Kart through DLC over the next few months.
Don't Choose your Weapon
After analyzing the Anti-Gravity, a real novelty of Mario Kart 8, and the protagonists of the title, it's time to talk about a series of small changes implemented to the historical mechanics of the series.
In every respectable race, the result is not only sanctioned by the player's skill, but also by what kind of weapons the game will provide him through the Object Cubes.
The fear of every runner who hardly gains the first position to the sound of red, green shells, lightning, bullets bill, bombs, mushrooms and bananas since 1992 is the possibility that one of the opponents will find the Thorny Shell, a real bomb that will explode on the poor leaders.
If over the years dodging the blue shell was just a technical or fortuitous miracle, with Mario Kart 8 the player will finally have a weapon at his disposal to counter the blue misfortune: the Super Horn in fact it allows to destroy the Thorny Shell, assuming you found one in time; this new weapon is not only used to defend against all three types of shell, but also to attack other runners who are about to overtake you or who occupy positions in front of you, a useful object for both defense and attack and that recalibrates the fate of the Thorny Shell which until now was almost completely invincible.
In the Mario Kart 8 inventory of items we also find other new weapons: the Boomerang flower it allows to send the hit opponents in the head of the tail, and will have a triple use; there Piranha plant it will temporarily attach itself to the front of the vehicle and bite into anything in front of it, coins, banana shells or other runners, providing the player with a slight acceleration with each bite; L'Otto Matto replaces Mario Kart 7's Lucky Seven, and offers the player eight different items to use in succession; closes the overview Currency, which adds two coins to the player's total (maximum ten per track) ensuring a small sprint, also as in the predecessor for 3DS, will be used to unlock new parts for the vehicles.
In Mario barth 8 some dynamics of classic objects have also changed: for example, the triple banana will no longer be positioned in line behind the vehicle, but will turn around it like the triple mushroom or triple shell, or be hit by any weapon (including Thorny Shell ) that is not the Lighting bolt, will not cause the loss of objects ensuring the possibility of counterattacking opponents almost immediately, the same will happen if you fall off the track; if at first glance these small changes may seem like "facilitations" to the solid gameplay of the series, continuing to play will be useful for competitiveness and the defense of one's position.
In the many hours of play spent testing the races of all the championships (50cc, 100cc, 150cc and Speculari) we found that the most common object has become the Coin, perhaps to guarantee the collection of the pieces, or perhaps because the coins become the only thing lost in falls or when hit by any object other than lightning; in fact the limit of ten coins per race can be reached even when you are targeted for the entire duration of the race, leaving the player with doubts about the possibility of extending or completely eliminating the limit itself.
I miss the Arena… and the Gamepad
In addition to the aforementioned Eight Grand Prix Cups which, as in each chapter, are divided by difficulty (50cc, 100cc, 150cc, Speculari), Mario barth 8 offers different ways to try your hand, alone or with friends.
Time Trials allow the player to take on the ghosts of their friends or developers in last-second races, and this time, not even the slightest mistake will be allowed to set a new record. You can decide to download up to 12 ghosts of friends, then you will have to eliminate them to make the others move.
The Challenge Race allows up to four friends to challenge each other with rules completely chosen by the player, you can decide whether to compete only with coins, or with only one type of objects, whether to make the CPU difficult or let you run in peace : there really is something for all tastes and to create many different games during the evenings with friends.
Finally, there is the Battle mode, where the players will have to blow up the opponent's balloons as happened in the chapters from Mario barth 64 onwards, with a big and substantial difference, the absence of the Arenas.
In Mario barth 8, the closed arenas where players challenged each other to the last balloon, endangering friendships, are replaced by 8 courses, chosen from the 32 available in the game.
At the beginning of each challenge (also here customizable in time, weapons, difficulty) the runners will be scattered on the track, and will have to look for the members of the opposing team running as if it were a real race, everything is dispersed and much less fun compared to the arenas of the previous chapters, staining the Mario Kart 8 curriculum in a profound way although the Battle mode is a secondary section of the title.
Fortunately Mario barth 8 also meets all those who have to switch to Wii U, allowing the use of all controllers available on the market, including Wii Mote (with Wii Wheel in case you have it) using the motion sensors to turn, the Wii combo Mote / Nunchuk with a slightly different mapping from that seen on Wii, in fact to jump you will have to press B and no longer shake the Remote Control, Controller Pro and Controller Pro for Wii, and of course the Gamepad of Wii U.
The latter can be used both by pressing the buttons, as if it were a very normal controller, and by exploiting its motion sensors, with a control performance that is not as perfect as that linked to the buttons. The touchpad is used as a Horn (mere extra that will not help in the race) or can show the game map: in case you play alone, you can place the gamepad under the TV as a map and use one of the other controllers to better orient yourself.
Obviously there is no lack of off-screen, which allows, as in most Wii U titles, to enjoy Mario Kart 8 completely on the Gamepad; Unfortunately, the use of the new Nintendo controller stops there, without bringing anything really new to the gameplay of the series.
The cruelty of the track
Another of the highlights of the series Mario Kart it's definitely multiplayer: whether it's local or online, the brand has always guaranteed fun and competitiveness.
Let's go in order, the local multiplayer is always the same as the other home chapters of the series, you will be able to face all the modes (except the Time Trials) with up to three other friends, the screen will be in split-screen and will offer each player his sector: unlike his colleague Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed, which in the Wii U version allowed a five-person multiplayer with the fifth having the Gamepad all to himself, Mario Kart 8 also divides the touchpad with the split-screen, a seemingly senseless choice but which is easily explained by the possibility of looking at only the Gamepad thanks to Wii U's Off-Screen mode..
Moving on to the Online component, which from its debut on Mario Kart DS in 2005 he always had some problems, in Mario barth 8 you will be faced with different options and possibilities of challenge.
First of all, you can choose whether to face them alone or with a friend, the players have been increased from the classic 8 to 12 and in games with members of the Wii U Friends List you can use voice chat.
You will be able to challenge players from all over the world, from your country or among your friends both in normal competitions and in balloon battles, and organize tournaments to the last shell, with customized rules and pre-established dates, simply by saying the name of the tournament or the code. identification to future participants.
The real challenge will begin once you start the online mode: ranking in the first places you will get points, while bad performances will lead to a drastic drop in the score.
In the games tested, played against opponents from all over the world, we did not notice any presence of lag, but in order not to repeat the error of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which after the European launch saw its online services succumb to the high mass of users, in the evaluation phase we will not take into account the online sector.
The circle closes MKTV (Mario Kart TV) which allows you to review the highlights of our races (which you can save as favorites by pressing the + button at the end of each race, up to a maximum of 6 videos) and which from May 30th you can also upload to YouTube .
The highlights can be modified almost completely, by deciding duration, speed and framed driver, and we assure you that reviewing certain slow-motion replays with friends ensures good laughs.
I don't believe in my mustache
Over the years, the series Mario Kart has always stood out for the technical improvement between one chapter and another, it was logical to think that, with the advent of Wii U, the first console to take advantage of Nintendo's HD, the eighth chapter of the brand would have given its best.
The result was striking and well above expectations: Mario Kart 8 travels at a fixed 60fps (halved in split-screen) and does not suffer any drop in frames even in the most agitated situations, including shells, bombs, mushrooms and anti-gravity and is a feast for the eyes.
But it certainly does not end here: every track is treated in detail, from the Toads scattered around the bleachers, to a gigantic statue of Bowser who will punch the track (!!) the same goes for runners and vehicles, with the mustache of the most famous plumber in the world that will move in the wind or with the stereo of the Discocabrio (a Kart model) that will go in rhythm with the soundtrack of the track.
Orchestral soundtrack that is the background and not boring, with remixes of famous songs such as the Main Theme of Mario Galaxy or that of Donkey Kong Country, of historical songs of the brand such as the Rainbow Track of Nintendo64 (Rainbow RoadN64), and with absolutely songs unpublished such as Shy Guy Falls.
✓ Revamped but always solid gameplay
✓ High level technical aspect
✓ Excellent track design x Unused gamepad
x Absence of Balloon Arenas