MARIO KART 8 ★★★★ Nin­tendo Wii U

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN & GAMES - CIARA O’BRIEN

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.

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