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8 Things We Know and Want From Mario Kart 8
It’s getting to be that time of year again. It’s warmer outside, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and all you can think about is sitting indoors just itching to get your hand on a video-game. Yes, you. Don’t pretend you haven’t raised an eyebrow about that colorful bit of wonder that is Mario Kart 8.
Yes, Mario Kart is back in action for another generation and it couldn’t look better to our humble eyes. There are loads of oohs and awes amongst the remaining question marks and we’re here to cover them all. Buckle your seat belts: It’s Mario time!
My, Aren’t You the Shiny One!
Let’s be frank: Mario Kart is looking gorgeous. The game pushes the pedal to the metal when it comes down the graphical department, putting even worthy rivals of Pikmin 3 and Super Mario: 3D World to shame in hammering out the most impressive visuals the Wii U has offered yet. From the fine grain of the asphalt down to the rubbery treads of the karts’ tires, there’s a very obvious jump in how astounding Mario’s tracks look in their shimmering surfaces and delightful size and scope. Good lord, even Mario’s mustache blows in the breeze now.
At 60 fps in single-player mode, the game looks to perform just fine under the HD pressures even if was sacrificed at the expense of its multiplayer’s lower but necessary 30 fps to keep things smoother. Suffice to say, Mario Kart 8 is just about the biggest, brightest racer we’ve ever laid eyes on and we want to savor every of its HD golden beaches and glimmering metropolises, not that we’ll be paying too much attention when we hear that starting buzzer go off. . .
What’s Old Is New Again
Nintendo’s always seemingly made what’s old new again. That old-school sensibility is looking to translate into Mario Kart 8 in fine form. Just as Mario Kart 7’s additional gliding and underwater segments made the familiar levels feel fresh, the anti-gravity mechanics utterly turn tracks on their heads as the game’s moebius strip moniker emphasizes. Toad’s Turnpike isn’t just a busy highway anymore. Some of its semi-trucks are ramps in themselves and sailing over the others while magnetized to the wall is a beauty indeed.
Every other level shown off looks just as lovely. Tropical resorts, haunted mansions, and candy-themed dreams fill the traditional collage of locales, but the unique additions of a bustling airport to a grand tour of a Mario-ized USA look smashingly good in their greater three-dimensional planes. The SNES originals are arguably the most fantastically updated, adding in a kind of detail and scope only possible in their HD upgrade to make even the death-defying Rainbow Road that much more appealing. There still leaves much up to mystery with several cups, especially the Star and Special Cups, particularly sparse of announced tracks. Forgive us if we start to daydream over the Bean Bean Kingdom and Isle Delphino Sunday drive we always imagined.
All Together Now!
It’s safe to say that Mario Kart is still all about Mario characters zooming around a racetrack together having fun, and Mario Kart 8 has that in spades. We already have the usual suspects: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Toad, Koopa Troopa, Princess Daisy, Toadette, Wario, Baby Mario, and Baby Luigi. More recent additions of Shy Guy, Metal Mario, Baby Daisy, Baby Peach, Lakitu, Waluigi, and Rosalina all join the fray to make up a whopping list only topped by the newest faces, seven of them to be precise. Bowser’s Koopalings finally get to drive right beside dad, including none other than Ludwig, Lemmy, Larry, Morton, Roy, Iggy, and our dear Wendy in their very own kart designs.
That said, even all of these seemingly make up only 27 of the purported 30 racers to the game’s credit. Adding onto the pile of mounting intrigue is the supposed screenshots like the one right above, showcasing three mysteriously undisclosed question marks in the remaining racer slots. It wasn’t long ago that Diddy Kong was rumored by the Spanish Official Nintendo Magazine and Bowser Junior is suspiciously absent thus far from the whoppingly big roster that includes his siblings. Neither have been confirmed by Nintendo itself, but even with those likely candidates out of the way, there’s but one left. Is a Pianta kart in the cards, or a more unprecedented debut like Kirby’s warp star? We can only hope.
You and the track aren’t the only things packing a punch this time. Items return in all their typical fashion, banana peels and all, but quite a few newbies are making an appearance. Super Mario 3D Land’s boomerang is landing its debut alongside age-old tropes like homing Bullet Bills and the ever-terrifying blue-shells, letting you smack your opponents as you come and go. Even more devious is the all-devouring Piranha Plant, chomping up coins and drivers along the road.
Better still, word on the Mario Kart racetrack is that two more items are still in the works. Check out the screen above for two peculiar tidbits that strangely resemble a light box from Super Mario 3D World and a dazzling looking number 8 not unlike Mario Kart 7’s “Lucky Number 7s” that randomly granted you 7 literal items to chuck away at rivals. If you can use the former to blind opponents on the road, then let’s hope for lots of these bad boys.
Pimp My Mario Kart
The 3DS’s Mario Kart 7 already brought the revolution of kart customization to the series, and its allegedly back and better than ever for 8. Swapping out such handy things as wheels, body parts, and hang-gliders added a whole new layer of strategy and depth that kept us racing even longer than ever. Nintendo’s promised that we’ll be getting a bigger boost in that area than ever.
So what new bells and whistles are we getting? We have no clue so far. Perhaps we’ll just be getting more of the same with better functionality, a.k.a a wider range of stats and power-ups. If we could make an educated guess, we might even be seeing the engine, the exhaust, or maybe even the amount of wheels themselves be up for the workshop. After all, ATVs haven’t been ruled out of the equation quite yet, and there’s always the wacky sight of Bowser on a unicycle to be conjured up.
The online world has long been a sorely underused one in Nintendo’s history, but with Mario Kart 8, that could all be changing for the better. The Miiverse has become synonymous with what makes the Wii U itself so unique apart from the gamepad itself and its attempts at social integration into its games has been an admirable feat. With Mario Kart Wii’s solid online performance, we expect nothing but great things, but what they remain just a bit mysterious.
Replays and leaderboards rankings are just two of the things to follow Mario Kart 8‘s hopeful heralding of an online future takes full advantage of it. We’re still waiting on potential battle modes akin to Double Dash’s or something better still. Heck, few could deny the chances of driving around with your Miis either. Reggie Fils-Aimes could be readying his body right about now.
We know, downloadable content has become a tagline as dirty as Wario’s likely unwashed undergarments, but it’s one with more than a few opportunities for bolstering Mario’s time in the fast lane. Mario Kart 8 is looking to be quite the complete package on day one, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t give us more fantastic goodies on top of an already superb game. Though the company’s wisely treaded carefully when it’s come to charging its players after the original sale, extra tracks and kart parts could be a potential boon to everyone if done right.
While titles like 3D World stuck to its original content, Pikmin 3 offered several worthwhile challenge maps as fun as any of its peers. Outrageous paywalls aren’t many people’s friends, but a few dollars for a few more items after the fact would be a great way to keep players lining up for Mario Kart 8 even long after its original content has worn thin.
You Want A Console With That?
Even more interesting is the increasingly popular prospect of a Mario Kart 8 Wii U all-in-one bundle. With the Wii U’s current uncertainties, a Mario Kart console package is probably more likely than anything on this list to cater to brand new players. Unconfirmed screenshots of a finished box art for it (like the one above) have already leaked online, and even with the Big N still silent on the matter, we surmise its only a matter of time before its confirmed for good. Anything else would be downright foolish day one. That said, it’s more a question of what kind of nifty gamepad design could be included. A shiny blue shell-themed one, anyone?
Start Your Engines!
Mamma mia, that’s a lot of goodies! Is Mario Kart in your near-future? What do you want to see most from it? Tell us in the comments below!