|System: Wii U|
|Release: May 30, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Cartoon Violence|
The multiplayer matches themselves are about as nerve-racking as races get, especially if you're in first place. Mario Kart games have always given an advantage to those pulling up the rear, and this eighth entry goes the extra mile. The most shocking discovery is now not being able to grab a secondary item while holding a Shell or Banana Peel on your tail. You get one item, that’s it. This makes your single Banana Peel defense rather limp against a trio of Red Shells bearing down on you. Of course, the blue Spiny Shell is stoppable now, thanks to a new item called the Super Horn. Yet after hundreds of matches, I still have yet to be holding one while in first place, actually hoping for an alert that the Spiny Shell is on its way.
The game tries to combat overpowered items by providing several avenues to the finish line using the game's anti-gravity feature, and adding a new boost mechanic when you bump into the tail of opponents or nudge certain obstacles. Shaking the controller to perform mid-air tricks also provides a little nitro boost. Power Sliding around corners and drafting other racers are more ways to increase your speed. Unfortunately skilled drivers will find them of little value when a Lightning item strikes or Bullet Bills blasts through the pile. Suffice it to say, items almost completely remove skill from any match, where you can jump from first place to tenth in an instant, thus limiting how well you should judge the online rating of another player.
Despite my criticism of some of the modes and gameplay mechanics, Mario Kart 8 is still an amazing game, and as intense and addicting as its predecessors. I may wish for a better Battle Mode and more online features, but I have happily raced hundreds of matches, and expect thousands more for many months, and even years, to come. There is not a single blemish in the track design and detailing, and handling the vehicles is tight and responsive, whether using the analog stick or tilt controls. Mario Kart 8 is perfect in most respects, but a few features are still bound by Nintendo's restrictive hand.
Date: May, 15, 2014