Impressions: Mario Kart 8

The third and final part of Marc’s day at The Nintendo Experience at Best Buy.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 06/14/2013 15:00 3 Comments     ShareThis

Having found my way into a play session of Super Mario 3D World, I was feeling confident that if I hung around a bit more, I might get lucky enough to play another game. Sure enough, a short while later, a single player was called up to play Mario Kart 8. They asked for a volunteer challenger, I raised my hand and I was in. Unlike Super Mario 3D World, this demo seemed to only support two players, so I was lucky that some people had started to filter out at this point.

Like the previous game I’d played, this demo was limited to two “levels” (races). One thing that stood out to me was the length of the races, though. Rather than the traditional three-laps, the courses I played only had two. I’m not sure if this was simply changed for the demo, or if this will be a running change for the series. Either way, it was interesting to see.

Once more, I was given a Wii Remote to use, rather than the GamePad, so I can’t comment on the functionality of that particular controller. The default setting for the Wii remote seemed to be motion controls, but the Luigi hat adorned Best Buy rep told me he could change them if I wanted. Not wanting to delay the demo, I decided to stick with the default and chose Koopa Troopa as my racer. They didn’t have a Wii Wheel on-hand, but it seems like a safe bet that it’ll easily work with the game if you were a fan.

The first thing I noticed is that the game looks really gorgeous in high definition. Everything is vibrant and the character models and courses look fantastic. The most interesting new feature was the hovercraft ability on the karts. Hovercraft mode kicks in automatically when you find an area on the course in which a speed ramp allows you to climb up the side or ceiling of a course. Some other courses automatically shift upside down, as well. Apparently, items and hazards can affect your hover abilities, but in the two courses I raced, I wasn’t hit while upside down, so I can’t quite comment on how that works, exactly. The whole hover aspect is pretty nifty, and it opens each course up to new short-cuts and such. The courses seemed like they offered a lot of different paths for those that are willing to spend time investigating them.

In addition to picking up elements from Mario Kart Wii, the game also borrows elements from Mario Kart 7. The glider automatically deploys at certain points, but the game isn’t afraid to throw some obstacles in your way to make you come crashing to Earth, which I did see in my play session, unfortunately. In my two courses, I didn’t see the propeller at any point, but I have heard that it will be included in the game. Coins, which have been missing in the last few Mario Kart console titles, are also back.

After placing first place in both races, I felt much better than I did after my Super Mario 3D World play session. I felt like I earned my free Mario Kart flag. My credibility restored, I could now depart Best Buy feeling victorious.

Tomorrow is the final day of Best Buy and Nintendo’s dual promotion. If you have the chance to go, I really do recommend it. It’s a great way to try some new titles, and to see the Nintendo fan community come out and support their favorite company. I do recommend you get there early though, in order to prevent yourself from falling into the same trap I did. Also, if you have Animal Crossing: New Leaf, don’t forget to bring your 3DS, because Best Buy also has exclusive furniture this month. And if you do check it out, let us know what you thought of the event in the comments below!

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