Mario Kart 64 was always my game. I may not have been able to kick your butt at Quake or StarCraft but if you tried taking me on on Mario Kart you would lose – bad. Back in college people in my dormitory heard of my prowess and sought to defeat me, and they all failed. I recall once a fellow dorm resident walked into a room where I was playing and remarked, “Wow! He is amazing!”. And it was true. I was.
In move that I can only describe as a shining testament to my superior skill, one of the RAs specifically excluded my floor from a dormitory-wide Mario Kart tournament that he had organized. The only purpose of excluding my floor was so that he would have a shot at winning his own tournament, and thusly scoring the free Pizza promised to the winner. Anyone who has suffered through college knows how big a deal free food is.
I told my wife that when Mario Kart 8 finally released I didn’t care how bad my Tendonitis was, I was going to play until my fingers bled and my forearms swelled to the size of Popeye’s. I didn’t quite play it that much, but I did push myself a little harder than I should have.
Unlike back in the day, Mario Kart has expanded to offer an absurd number of playable drivers and vehicles. I find it a bit overwhelming – testing out all of the combinations to find the best choice for my playing style is simply not plausible. Instead of my old policy (always be the Princess) I pick a racer and kart combination that I feel like I haven’t used before.
The new ‘gimmick’ of this Game is the Zero Gravity features on the tracks. While driving on the walls and ceiling makes for some very impressive screen shots and replay videos it doesn’t make a whole lot of difference while actively playing. Even so, if you are doing anything but grinning like a mad fool while racing up a freaking waterfall on the Shy Guy falls you may have no soul.
The new tracks are all fantastic, although they seem to be a little less ‘Mario’ and a little more ‘Cool Concept’. The Electrodrome for example doesn’t appear to come from any previous Mario game I’ve ever played, but it’s still one of my 32 favorite levels. I was also very pleased to see the return of some of my favorite N64 courses such as Yoshi’s Valley, Royal Raceway and Rainbow Road in the classic races.
I found the 50cc races to be far too easy and I achieved three star rankings on all of them first try. 100cc was similarly easy and I picked up all three stars with relative ease. I was a bit disappointed by the difficulty until I tried 150cc. It’s fast, brutal and infuriating, exactly like Mario Kart was meant to be.
My sons both loved watching Mario Kart, and my older boy (who is 5 now) was even able to play somewhat competitively on 50cc, although on 150cc he was left in the dust. I usually gave a non-operational Wii Wheel to my 3 year old who enjoyed pretending he was playing as much as the rest of us enjoyed the actual game.
If I hadn’t already owned a Wii U I would have bought one to play Mario Kart 8. If you are reading this and you don’t yet own a Wii U and / or Mario Kart 8, you are out of excuses. The time is now. Buy this game and you won’t regret it.
- Ridiculous number of playable racers / kart combinations.
- Zero Gravity Courses
- It’s so awesome, you’ll be forced to buy a Wii U (If you don’t already have one)