One game this year stood above the rest for me. One game gave me pure joy on a level very few games ever have since I was but a wee lad. One game has, in just a few short months, already given me several great memories with some of my best friends. That game is Mario Kart 8.
My history with Mario Kart
I love Mario Kart, but I actually never played it as a kid. I had a Sega Genesis, not a Super Nintendo, so I obviously didn’t own it. And none of my friends with Super Nintendos did either. The first time I ever really played the original Mario Kart was after I got a SNES back in 2006. So you can’t say my love of this franchise is nostalgia.
After that I played Mario Kart for the Wii a ton. Those are the two I’ve had the most experience with and I’ve loved them both. This franchise is to me everything I love in a video game. It’s great to play casually, as you can always fire it up to play one or two races. It’s great to play for long stretches, especially later versions where there is a lot to unlock. It’s easy to learn and hard to master. And it is one of the best party games I know of.
I could fill this article up with nothing but great times I’ve had with some friends over playing Mario Kart. There is nothing quite as fun as getting a couple of pizzas, some beers and some sodas, and playing some Mario Kart with friends.
The best yet, but not perfect
This entry in the series is easily the best yet. Everything about this is just top notch. The only real complaints I have are kind of minor but let’s get them out of the way. First of all, Battle Mode doesn’t take place in an arena like in past games. It takes place on the various race tracks. But race tracks are meant to be races on and don’t work well for the battle mode. This frankly is my biggest complaint with the game and if you really loved Battle Mode in previous installments, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Also I was rather disappointed in the new Rainbow Road track in this game. The tiled effect just doesn’t work for me.
It’s not a bad track, but it felt like a big downgrade from the disorienting gauntlet that was the Rainbow Road on the Wii’s Mario Kart. That track was a nightmare with it’s convex roads. I fell off that road more times than I care to admit. This version’s Rainbow Road really didn’t look as good, nor was it as challenging.
And the final grip, is that when you finish a match, the option to View Highlight Reel is at the top when you finish a race, rather than Next Race at the top. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally clicked View Highlight Reel. A minor complain sure, but annoying nonetheless.
The biggest addition to the series with this game is the anti-gravity effect, where certain sections of the track allow your vehicle to go up walls and on ceilings. This is a blast. It works especially great on levels where parts are underwater. Driving into a wall of water is just cool as hell. Makes me feel like I’m going into a Stargate.
There are certain levels where the anti-gravity doesn’t work well. I don’t like it in the Rainbow Road for instance, as I almost feel like it undermines the constant threat of falling off I come to expect from the Rainbow Road.
The music in the game is by far some of the best in the series. This track for the Ghost House level Twisted Mansion is an absolute masterpiece. I feel like it’s a lost track from the Nightmare Before Christmas.
I normally hate DLC. Hate it with a burning passion. But the DLC for this game looks amazing and actually has me considering breaking my rule against getting DLC. This looks like a good example of using DLC as a way to keep breathing life into a game rather than just nickel and diming you. There is an Excitebike track which looks like a blast. And the Legend of Zelda pack looks great too. Play as Link in Mario Kart? Outstanding.
If you’ve got me even seriously considering purchasing DLC, you’re doing something impressive there Nintendo.
This is a damn near perfect game. The graphics look great. The music is incredible. And it’s just a blast to race your friends. This is the best in a fantastic series and is reason number one why you should get a WiiU. If you haven’t played Mario Kart 8, you haven’t played the best game of 2014.