My Wii U Game of the Month for June shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone. It was released in Japan on May 29th, in both Europe and North America on May 30th and in Australia on May 31st. It’s a certain racing game.
If you haven’t worked it out yet, the game which I’m talking about is Mario Kart 8 of course. 12-player races and motorbikes from Mario Kart Wii return, along with hang gliders, underwater racing and vehicle customisation introduced in Mario Kart 7. Of course, being a new entry in the Mario Kart series, the game brings in anti-gravity racing as a new feature.
During certain parts of a track, racers can drive on the walls or ceiling thanks to the anti-gravity. If a player bumps into another racer or a special bumper, they will gain a speed boost thanks to a Spin Turbo.
In addition to new features, there are new characters and items. The seven Koopalings first introduced in Super Mario Bros. 3 make their Mario Kart debut, and are joined by Baby Rosalina and Pink Gold Peach. There are a grand total of 30 characters. I almost exclusively use Koopa Troopa, though it seems I will need to win Grand Prix with other characters to unlock more stamps for use in Miiverse.
There are four new items: Potted Piranha Plant, Boomerang Flower, Crazy Eight and Super Horn. The Potted Piranha Plant chomps on obstacles and other racers, providing a speed boost for its user. The Boomerang Flower allows the player to throw a boomerang three times, hitting opponents forward and when it returns. The Crazy Eight provides eight items for its user (Coin, Bob-omb, Mushroom, Star, Blooper, Green Shell, Red Shell and a Banana). Finally, the most interesting addition to the items is the Super Horn. When used, it emits a shockwave, which can be used to destroy any incoming Spiny Shells. It also works fairly well for attacking other racers.
Mario Kart 8 has the usual modes one would expect; Grand Prix, Time Trials and Battle. In addition to those, there is an option entitled ‘Mario Kart TV’ which allows a player to edit and share highlights of their races on Miiverse.
The Battle mode forgoes any arena stages in favour of using a selection of actual tracks, which seems to be a rather odd choice.
As for the tracks, there are 32 in total. 16 new and 16 retro, as has become something of a tradition in Mario Kart. Arguably this game has the strongest selection of tracks in any Mario Kart game to date, with my highlights including Shy Guy Falls and Cloudtop Cruise.
The retro tracks look ace as well, and a few have even had anti-gravity sections added.
Here’s a strange thing. In Japan, Mario Kart 8 is getting free DLC in the form of a Mercedes-Benz GLA. Whether that will be made available outside of Japan or not, I don’t know. Still, thought it was worth mentioning.
Mario Kart 8 might just well be the greatest Mario Kart yet. The game looks brilliant; it makes full use of the Wii U’s HD capabilities. The racing is great, and online multiplayer will keep you coming back for more.
Now I’m done going on about Mario Kart 8, I figured I would give an honourable mention to Dakko Dakko’s Scram Kitty and His Buddy on Rails. I plan to buy the game soon, and with the reviews calling it extremely challenging yet satisfying, I’m looking forward to playing it.
Oh, and another mention of a different game. Those of us in Europe who buy Mario Kart 8 and register on Club Nintendo before 31st July are entitled to a download code for a free Wii U game, from a selection of ten. Seven out of ten I already have, so I chose Sonic Lost World as my free game. The reason for this was that it was the best of the three I hadn’t got. Actually, it’s been all right from what I’ve played so far, though it seems better to treat it as an actual platformer rather than a Sonic game in certain stages.