E3 2013: Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) Preview
At long last, Mario Kart finally hits the Wii U with Mario Kart 8. During E3, my friend and I got the chance to pick up and play the hands-on demo available at the Nintendo booth. Mario Kart 8 I believe is a title the Wii U really could’ve used at launch or closer to even. I think with that in mind, Nintendo should have considered delaying the Wii U release about a year or so to try and get more games like this and Smash Bros. out quicker.
The demo featured two lap races over three separate courses: one was a Mushroom Kingdom style level, another one was like Mario World version of San Francisco complete with trolleys, and another was a Mario World-style Haunted House with some underwater segments. The game can feature up to twelve different players in online competitive multiplayer mode. The demo was really fun, and it simply felt great to play that classic Mario Kart style again. Race courses now have an anti-gravity aspect where you can take alternate pathways and ride on walls or even the ceilings of certain levels. Player carts or motorbikes will transform to hang gliders or hove bikes at certain points. You can perform tricks in midair as well. The controls worked really well using the Wii U GamePad or Steering Wheel. Since my friend took the steering wheel, I used the Game Pad, and it worked fine, though I generally preferred using the analog stick over the motion controls.
I was very happy in terms of new power-ups available throughout the courses. Now you have a classic Mario fireball power-up you can find and fire multiple times. Mainstays such as the banana peels and turtle shells are back as well. The power-ups really enhance the fun of the races. Though my one hope is that battle mode will be back for the game as well. Back in the Mario Kart N64 days, my family and I would have constant hours of fun with the battle mode matches. In terms of cast members, Waluigi and Toadette are back for this game. My personal character of choice was Yoshi. There were twelve characters you can start with, though I assume more characters will be available and also unlockable at launch. I imagine more could be released as DLC later on as well.
Mario Kart 8 is due out on the Nintendo Wii U for the Spring of 2014.