Mario Kart 8 Review: A New Level of Excitement

Mario Kart 8 makes one major addition to the series that adds  new level of excitement to the already entertaining gameplay.

Super Mario Kart on the SNES still holds my favorite memories in a Mario Kart game. Not one Mario Kart game since has excited me nearly as much, and it shows by how little I’ve played all of the recent games. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t enjoyed any of the latest releases in the series — I still find them games highly entertaining, especially when playing with friends. But even still, I haven’t been as excited about a Mario Kart game since Super Mario Kart. Well, until now.

For me, firing red and green shells and using a star to speed and wreck through opponents has lost a little bit of its enjoyment over the years. However, as social as we are today and with how much fun it is to capture gameplay footage, Mario Kart 8 makes laying down bananas fun again with the use of Mario Kart TV. Sharing the best moments with friends so that they can enjoy those moments over and over again is an absolute joy.

On my very first race with a friend, I had one of those moments that usually just doesn’t happen — a moment where I was able to unleash everything in the final seconds to destroy my friend and pass him to claim first place. It was completely lucky that I happened to draw up the “everything” item at the end of a race, and that entire segment was captured thanks to Mario Kart TV. Now I can relive that race and make sure my friend also relives it over and over again until the next best moment happens. Just imagine perfectly placed bananas or precisely timed shells being fired on the player ahead, allowing you to hit and overtake them in the final seconds to claim first. Those exciting moments are all captured on MKTV.

Mario Kart TV really is special, and it makes the game that much more thrilling because you know every race is being recorded and saved in the MKTV section where players can go after a race and view their past few rounds. All those fantastic Mario Kart moments will live on forever, and the best part of MKTV is that players can upload their videos straight to YouTube in either segments of 30, 45, or 60 seconds, or by uploading the entire race. You can see that match with my friend in the YouTube video above!

MKTV shows off unique camera views too, so it’s not the standard driving view that players use throughout the race. Instead it has views from different angles that capture the race perfectly, though sometimes it can miss the best part by a second. Players also have the option to view a standard replay or one that focuses entirely on the best moments from the action in the race or the items used. They can even select up to four players to focus on during the entire replay to really show off the battle between friends. It’s great stuff and I’m so happy that Mario Kart 8 has this feature.

While Mario Kart TV is my favorite function in the entire game, I must also mention that online play is also done well when playing with friends. It’s slightly disappointing that players can’t speak to each other during the race, but the ability to talk is there during pre-race. I also like that I can see my record vs a specific friend when I go to their profile in the game. Of course, it’s not too fun when they have a much better record against me, but that’s something players can work on and strive towards improving.

The courses also need to capture the player’s attention and fill them with joy. In Mario Kart 8, there are courses that feel fairly straight forward, where it seemed rather slow-going with basic turns. I understand some courses need to be extremely user-friendly, and those courses are definitely present in Mario Kart 8. However, for the most part, as I pushed forward and unlocked new cups, I discovered courses that fit my liking, where players have to do a lot better with their turns and know which path to take for the quickest route. As a result, there’s plenty of excitement that comes up throughout each track. There’s even a course called Mount Wario that has a point-to-point race down a mountain slope — I love that track.

Each course is really beautiful, which makes playing Mario Kart in HD a lot of fun. I also really appreciate the design of some of the tracks, including Bowser’s Castle, which has a giant Bowser creating havoc by slamming his fist down on the track to cause some small issues for the driver. It’s so much fun, and it’s a pretty thing to see.

The gameplay is also made great by return of aerial tricks during a jump, causing the player’s kart to boost for a short second. So now it’s not just about having a great race, but also using good strategy to grab as many boosts as possible to gain that extra bit of speed. Additionally, gliding is certainly lots of fun too, though sometimes it feels pretty basic and doesn’t require any technique. There are courses, though, that require players to glide just right to an alternate route, so that makes the gliding more fun when players know that there is an alternative path to take.

Mario Kart 8 brought me back to a series that I used to love and always wanted to play. Now I love it once again and can’t wait until I jump into my next match, whether it’s single player 150cc or multiplayer race against friends or random opponents from across the globe. Mario Kart 8 is exciting to play and makes every race even more tense knowing that every move I make is being recorded through Mario Kart TV.


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