Monday, May 4, 2015

Mario Kart 8 Thoughts


 (NOTE: This post was written just after Mario Kart 8's release back in summer 2014.)

     Hey pimps! I'm MadameWario, a Let's Player on YouTube and an avid Nintendo fan girl. Growing up with all of the Mario Kart games, I felt the need to share my thoughts regarding the newest release in the series, Mario Kart 8 for Wii U. Mario Kart 8 introduced many great new features including HD graphics (for the first time ever), anti-gravity action, and several first-time drivers within the series. Now, because Mario Kart is one of my favorite video game series of all time, I felt the need to review each course in Mario Kart 8 track for track using comparisons to past games in the series as well as my pre-release expectations for the game. What you are about to read is a brief overview of all my first thoughts.

     I will admit that I personally felt like Mario Kart Wii blew all other Mario Kart games out of the water, therefore, many of my comparisons made for MK8 will be in regards to that game. That being said, my expectations for Mario Kart 8 were set extremely high. I know Mario Kart 7 is more recent than Mario Kart Wii, but I am talking expectations for an actual console game, not a handheld.


     Overall, the Mario Kart 8 graphics are stunning in their new HD format, but the colorful, cartoonish nature I love about Mario Kart games fell a little flat. MK8 had a much more "realistic" feel to it than past games. I am not necessarily saying this is a bad thing, but I will say that as far as my personal expectations go, I was a little disappointed that the graphic stylings of MK8 felt more like a first person shooter than a fun-loving, cartoony racing game.


     I will review the music for each track more in-depth when I talk about them individually, but overall, the jazzy soundtrack of MK8 was pretty legit. Although, was it necessary for every track in the game to have a jazzy score? It seems like Paper Mario Sticker Star crept its way in to Mario Kart 8. Because the jazz theme existed throughout almost every single one of the racetracks, after a while each track's music started to sound the same. There was not one nitro cup racetrack that I played once and remembered the music for. This is a first for me with any Mario Kart game. There is usually at least one track song that sticks in my head, but this just did not happen in Mario Kart 8. Again, what I love about Mario Kart is the variety of characters, songs, graphics, and themes each game has. It was almost like Nintendo tried to make one massive song to transition between all racetracks in MK8 instead of twelve individual songs - one for each track. This, again, was disappointing to me.


     Now, I have to rant about this, because I just don't understand why it seems that there is ALWAYS a throw-away character in every Mario Kart game. Maybe "throw-away character" sounds a little harsh, but all I am trying to say is that Nintendo has become really good at throwing curveballs in regards to their unlockable-character choices in many of their games. I will admit that sometimes the throw-away character is my favorite, (For example, Honey Queen/Queen Bee in Mario Kart 7 - who knew?!), but in this case, was it really necessary to have... PINK... GOLD... PEACH?!?! And on top of that, was it really necessary for me to unlock her FIRST?! Talk about a low blow... I am trying not to take this personally... :P Either way, I really have nothing good to say about the fact that Nintendo actually thought it was a good idea to release yet ANOTHER Peach to race with. Isn't a baby and an adult enough? D: Please don't add a teenage Peach...


     Aside from personal character grudges, and on a more positive note, I was extremely satisfied with the new "anti-gravity" feature in Mario Kart 8. Finally, something where running into your neighbor actually benefits you! I feel like I am on a bumper cars ride whenever I encounter an anti-gravity section of a racetrack. The game does a great job of making you feel like you are going at ultra-fast speed whenever you hit anti-gravity areas as well. Part of me wishes that Nintendo would have taken this feature a step further and added some of the upside-down elements from Super Mario Galaxy to the game, but then part of me also thinks that could have easily become a total disaster. Even so, I think it would have been cool had anti-gravity allowed you to actually ride where ever you want (on the walls/ceiling) instead of just in one general area, but I won't complain too much. Going in to the game, I really did not feel any sort of excitement for anti-gravity, but after playing, my mind has completely changed and anti-gravity is definitely one of my favorite features.


     The coin feature, brought back from Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 7, annoys me a bit, because I really wish that coins did not control the racetrack so much. Even so, I will say that the coins do an excellent job of adding additional strategy to the game, especially in regards to online play. Speaking of another annoyance, is anyone else really annoyed that "View Highlight Reel" pops up first at the end of each track instead of "Next Course"? I am a button-masher, therefore this pains me...


     Lastly, I am very sad that Miis are not featured within each MK8 racetrack like they are in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7. Call me crazy, but there was just something oh so charming about getting run over by my Grandma in past Mario Kart racetracks such as Coconut Mall. That little bit of humor was lost in MK8, as now your only option is to get hit by some random Toad, Goomba, or Koopa canoodling at the side of the road.


     Everything I have talked about so far is just a brief overview of my first thoughts on the game as a whole. I know I have yet to discuss online features or Mario Kart TV, but I will save all online discussion for another post. As I review each track individually, you can definitely anticipate a more thorough review of music and features within each track. Just be aware that in some cases, if you cannot already tell, it may be a bit of a rocky road. ~MW

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