Getting Back Into The Race With Mario Kart 8

By Jenni . July 14, 2013 . 5:30pm

Note: For our previous hands-on impressions of Mario Kart 8, check here.

It isn’t a Nintendo system without a Mario Kart game, so there’s no surprise that the Wii U will be hosting Mario Kart 8. A demo station was set up at E3 for attendees to sample a three-race showdown, showing off the anti-gravity portions of the race and the improved gliding mechanics. Naturally, if someone’s got a race running, I’m going to compete.


The Mario Kart 8 demo was a single player experience, which I found a bit odd, given how much of a multiplayer experience it is and that the final game will allow up to 12 people in a race. It was probably because Nintendo wanted people to really see how the Wii U Gamepad works to control the game. There were two options, one where you use the entire Gamepad as a wheel, complete with a horn button on the touch screen for startling opponents, and the other is the standard control scheme where people use buttons to steer, accelerate, and such.


I made a valiant attempt at using the Gamepad as a steering wheel for Mario Kart 8, but it wasn’t going to happen. I got through the first lap, but it just felt too imprecise for me. So, I switched over to standard controls and made the touchscreen show the tracks’ maps. These controls were much more comfortable and it actually felt like drifting was somewhat easier.


As is usual with a Mario Kart circuit, a player goes through three tracks and is deemed a winner or loser based on the performance in each of them. I wasn’t given the exact names for the ones I experienced, but one was something of a town, another looked like a variation of Mario Circuit and the final one seemed like it was either Luigi’s Mansion or a general Boo mansion. Only two of the three felt really memorable though, and that’s because I managed to find secret paths in them, even during this brief play session.


The first memorable Mario Kart 8 track was in a town setting, as I had said, and had a series of streetcars going through it. My first time around the track, I was too busy with using the Gamepad as a steering wheel to notice. The second time around, I saw that I would be able to make it onto the tracks and go through the gated area they were entering. On the third track, it happened. I managed to make it through this gate and was rewarded with a shortcut that put me ahead of the rest of the crowd.


The ghostly mansion was quite nice as well, offering a chance to go upside-down, underwater and gliding through the air. There was also a brief shortcut here, after entering the mansion, where someone could make a sharp left into a small passageway to avoid going around a longer curve. It wasn’t as influencial as the prior shortcut, but it was still something.


It’s in all the Mario Kart 8 tracks that I noticed something though. Nintendo had made a point during the presentation, saying the times when the tracks would turn upside down and vehicles would turn into something akin to hoverboards would feel different while driving. Honestly, though, I didn’t notice much of a difference.


Maybe it was because when I’d chosen Peach, she’d automatically been on her bike. Perhaps the demo build didn’t have all the elements in place. I suppose my choosing to go with the standard controls had some influence. I don’t know, but it didn’t feel any different. Maybe a tad more “drifty” than usual, but Peach was performing the same way as she did on regular terrain.


Mario Kart 8 will be coming to the Wii U next spring, so we have some time to wait. I know it seems like a long ways away, but it really isn’t that bad. Besides, all good things are worth waiting for and we can always use another installment in a solid series.


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  • HappyOnion

    cant wait,thanks for the demo. in all honesty i was worried they’d change things up TOO much in gravity mode, but im happy its only subtle…also, dat racing suit <3 peach main for life (gunning for rosie thou!)

  • NightzeroAX

    This game is looking sexy. Probably gonna be the best MK since Double Dash. (Haven’t played 7)

    • ShawnOtakuSomething

      play 7

      • HappyOnion

        ^^^ best mk to date. 7 rocks

      • Grape Monet

        For me, 7 would’ve been perfect had they included Free Mode. It doesn’t feel right to have a Mario Kart game where I can’t select which individual course I want to play, when I want to play it. Even so, 7 is still a great game.

  • ShawnOtakuSomething

    Mario kart is the cause of my road-rage. this one looks super sexy

  • Even though Nintendo’s still new to HD, they still know how to make a game look good, especially at 1080p/60fps. :D

  • XypherCode

    Beautiful game :)

  • Monterossa

    I wonder if every Super Mario got numbers on their titles, what number it’s gonna be for the latest game?

    • Daniel Jeanbaptiste

      are you trying to troll
      Mario comes in different genres. The main ones are the Platformers by Nintendo EAD.
      Along with Kart and RPG.

      • Monterossa

        Yeah, I’m talking about the main series, the platformers. how many of them now?

        • Daniel Jeanbaptiste

          SMB1-3, World, 64, Sunshine, Galaxy 1-2, 3D Land and World by Nintendo EAD.

          NSMB and Land 1-3 aren’t core Mario platformers.

  • Teepo 64

    I love Mario Kart so much. I’m also a strong supporter of the existence of the blue spike shell. I don’t care what anyone thinks.

  • Gilgamesh2025

    Mario Kart 8 looks pretty impressive! Can’t wait!

  • Spring 2014 is soooo far! :(

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