MARIO KART 8 ★★★★ Nintendo Wii U
The Wii U has been having a tough time of it since its launch, but could Mario Kart 8 be the game to save it?
It’s unlikely that a single game will force a complete turnaround of the console, but since Mario Kart is always a solid crowd puller, it can’t hurt. You know the drill by now: race your opponents and win by any means necessary. That includes bombs, banana skins and booby traps, or even simply ramming their car. There are a few new ones to deal with: a boomerang and a piranha plant that gobbles up everything in its path, from gold coins to rivals.
At certain points of the track, your bike or car will pull up its wheels and allow you to hover over the track, with extra speed boosts to be earned. It throws something new into the mix and makes it that bit more competitive, as you pass out your opponents with a well-timed boost.
The new instalment brings back parachutes and underwater racing, but the best thing it retains is the sense of fun. The joy of crossing the finish line first. The anguish of being hit from behind with a bomb just as you’re about to end in third. Catching someone with a missile just in the nick of timeonly to be hit by one a split second later.
It’s bittersweet and ruthless. You don’t even feel guilty when your rear end Donkey Kong or take Baby Peach out of it with a bomb. And there are enough modes to keep you coming back for more: a Grand Prix, a four race cup; time trials pitting your racer against the clock; battle mode, where you have to pop rivals’ balloons while guarding your own; and a mode where you can create your own custom rules.
All your best moments are stored in MK TV, so you can relive your perfect races over and over again, and you can upload your highlights to YouTube.
Another solid Mario Kart to add to the collection.