When I first played Mario Kart it was against my little brother, holding a Capri-Sun in one hand and the controller in the other. It looked like this…
I always played as Princess Peach, and me and Peachy always lost. I could say the game was really hard, but I just pure sucked at it. I always ended up on the little land-y bits in the middle and got stuck. Lakitu got so sick of me going the wrong way he retired. He didn’t really, but he would have if he were capable of real feelings. Peach got sick of always losing. We fell out. I put my copy of Mario Kart in the cupboard and didn’t revisit it for ages.
When I got into a relationship with the dream nerd I had been waiting for my whole life, I dug out my console collection and was ready to step(drive) into the Mario Kart circuit once more. He also owned Mario Kart for the N64(something which I had never owned during my trauma), so we gave that a go. I still sucked, but not as bad as before. I got to learn the tracks and the importance of the character stats(that rhymes). I still wasn’t winning any tournaments though.
Fast forward a few months and I found myself the proud owner of a Wii U. No seriously, I was so proud. Look.
After a few weeks of being addicted to Super Mario 3D World and The Wind Waker HD, I ordered Mario Kart 8, and imagine my surprise when it looked like this.
Where on earth did all these characters come from? As I was feeling particularly fruity, I decided to also buy both DLC‘s which included playable characters from Animal Crossing, Zelda, Mario and their vehicles. Later on, we decided to also download the Mercedes-Benz pack. Believe me, you have never seen Mario looking so P.I.M.P.
Mario Kart 8 is familiar sure, but it is in no means comfortable. You choose how you want to play ie: on your own, against other players or Battle Mode. You choose your character- now ranging from the Koopalings to ridiculously cute ‘Baby’ variations of Super Mario alumni and even to Lakitu himself(aren’t you meant to be filming?). I went with my newly downloaded Isabelle from Animal Crossing as I was curious to see how she would fit in. Plus she is adorable. Now it’s time to choose your killing machine. This is broken down into the vehicle itself, wheels and a glider.
For Isabelle, I chose the ‘city tripper'(a little scooter) along with some MONSTER wheels and super glider. We were ready to go.
Mario Kart 8 introduces 16 new tracks alongside it’s 16 spruced up versions of classic tracks such as Royal Raceway and Rainbow Road(shudder). The tracks are divided up into different cups such as Shell Cup, Mushroom Cup, etc and each soundtrack is played by a live band(I like to think a band of Toads).
For me, the biggest and most impressive feature of Mario Kart 8 is the graphics. I am a non-abashed retro gamer and will always swear that old games are the way to go. However, you cannot help but be impressed by the level of detail put into the surroundings and characters alike. From Luigi’s famous unimpressed face, to Baby Peach’s little ‘haha!’ when she hits you with a shell, it’s every man for himself.
The features when playing include new items such as the piranha flower and the boomerang alongside old ‘favourites’ such as blue spiney shell and invincibility star. Personally, I don’t really rate any of the new items except the Bullet Bill. It seems the Mushroom Boosts just screw you over, and the Piranha Flower doesn’t really work unless you are surrounded by people. You are able to achieve boosts when turning corners by holding left trigger, and there are many short cuts. Again, this has to be used wisely otherwise you will end up stuck against a wall or flying happily off the edge into nothingness. The other players are relentless, they bash into you, they laugh at you and they overtake you at the very last minute.
Me and Isabelle have a great time. She talks in her non-sensical jibberish and I agree. I have tried to play on the online tournaments but find it shreds the very little self esteem I have left, so I stick to challenging my boyfriend who plays as Shy Guy. Training modes mean you can learn seemingly impossible tracks such as Rainbow Road(sorry have to keep mentioning it) before competing.
Mario Kart 8, in my humble opinion, is one of the best racing games to ever grace a Nintendo console. I have never so happily wasted hours I could have been sleeping or eating. Buy it, enjoy it and just never go out again.
Tips for other MK-challenged individuals!
- Play as one character. Get to know their strengths, weaknesses and ideal vehicle set up. I’m not saying don’t enjoy the wide spectrum of characters on offer, but have one staple character to go back to.
- Know your vehicle. Sure, some of them LOOK better than others, but do your research into what composition is good for the weight and dynamic of your character. For example: if you have a slow character, choose a fast vehicle to balance it out. I always choose off road tyres because I never know where the hell I am going.
- Know the tracks. As mentioned in my article, you can choose training mode and play these through alone to alleviate the pressure. Some tracks make better use of special features such a boosts, where as some are just plain, no-frills racing. Learn where short cuts are, and enemies. Oh, and stray cows!
- Look at the right screen. Cos, well, duh. But seriously, I’ve got so distracted by looking at what other people are doing before that I end up careening off the edge into oblivion. Focus!
- Utilise the ‘Highlight Reel’ feature. Really proud of that shell you threw into Bowser? Stole 1st place at the last minute? Mario Kart 8 has a ‘highlight reel’ feature which you can edit to rewatch and upload online. This works well as motivation !
- Learn from others. My boyfriend (the know it all) taught me how to boost when turning corners. I’m no pro, but it has helped considerably. If you see someone who is ALWAYS winning(we all know one), don’t be afraid to ask for advice!
- Don’t be afraid to ram. No seriously. On Mario Kart 8, when you ram into someone you usually get a boost. Try this on straight roads as opposed to corners to save running into the wall.
- Know the items and how to use them. On the rare occasion that I am in first place, I love to send a shell flying backwards. Bomb-ombs require timing, use Stars to take short cuts off track, and ALWAYS remember where you’ve left your banana skins!
Lou and Kane’s Mario Kart Corner
Below are some profiles of what my boyfriend and I prefer in Mario Kart 8. Feel free to make your own and send to me, would be interesting to see how opinions differ!
Lou’s Mario Kart Profile.
Preferred Character: Isabelle
Preferred Vehicle: City Tripper
Favourite Track: Hyrule Circuit
Worst Track: Any of the Rainbow Roads(take your pick!)
Weapon of Choice: Red Shell- an oldie, but a goodie.
Worst MarioKart Character: The Koopalings.
Kane’s Mario Kart Profile
Preferred Character: Black Shy Guy
Preferred Vehicle: Landship
Favourite Track: Royal Raceway.
Worst Track: Cloudtop Cruise
Weapon of Choice: 3 Green Shells.
Worst MarioKart Character: Donkey Kong.
Okey Dokey! Hope you are now ready to take to the circuit and BURN RUBBER BABY!