MARIO KART 8
RRP: $ 89.95
( Reviewed on Nintendo Wii U)
MARIO’S latest kart racer delivers much the same thrills this hit franchise has done so well for more than two decades and, for fans like myself, that’s a relief.
The core gameplay still centres around high- speed arcade antics, involving drifting perfectly around race tracks, firing assorted weapons at your opponents, and getting that perfectly timed power boost at the starting line.
New to the series are the anti- gravity areas on each course. During these sections, collisions with other racers are rewarded with a speed boost rather than both players crashing and losing valuable time.
While this doesn’t exactly reinvent the gameplay, it does make you rethink your tactics.
In addition to new cast members and tracks, the game also features fun new weapons.
A boomerang serves as a short- range weapon that can hit nearby racers on both the way out and on its return.
The new piranha plant reaches out to attack racers who get too close as well as removing hazards from your path. There is also the horn, which triggers a mini shockwave powerful enough to protect against an attack from the dreaded blue shell.
The race modes on offer are reminiscent of past games.
Working through the main Grand Prix mode gradually unlocks all 16 new and 16 returning tracks. You can try to beat your own and your friends’ fastest laps in the Time Trial mode, and racing friends both locally and online remains one of the game’s steadfast features.
Where Nintendo has stumbled is with the shake- up of the popular Battle mode.
Instead of trying to pop balloons on opponents’ karts in a specially designed arena, the action has been moved to regular race tracks, where each round inevitably turns to a frustrating hunt for the last racer standing.
Like so many long- running video game franchises, Mario Kart 8 introduces little in the way of knockout new features or innovation, yet it is welcome addition to the series, a must play for Wii U owners, and easily the best- looking instalment to date.