Mario Kart 8 Impressions: Zorpix Den

Zorpix triumphant mario kart

Goooooooood morning Wii U Daily! Zorpix here, and you may have seen Ashley’s review of Mario Kart 8¬†go live on the site a week or so ago. As many of you know, that review came out before the game did. Apparently I’m not special enough for Nintendo to send me free games. After all¬†the good¬†things I say about their management¬†and company, too!

Okay, maybe it’s kinda obvious why I didn’t get a review copy… Either way, I bought the game myself, and have already put a good 20 or so hours into it. Time to get back on Nintendo’s good side! …Or will I?

Since this is my own thing, I won’t be following the review standards for the site. Please understand that the¬†lack of professionality in my opinion articles don’t represent the professionality of Wii U Daily as a whole. This isn’t an official review. Just me throwing out some thoughts about the game that happen to be categorized. If you’d like to see a professional review written by me, check out my review for Skylanders: SWAP Force that I did ages ago (Spoiler alert, I liked¬†it).

zorpix bear

First Impressions

Upon first firing up¬†Mario Kart 8, the first thing I noticed was how simplistic most of the presentation was. It doesn’t look bad by any means, it’s just not what I was expecting. The menu for online play is more what I had in mind. A menu with a cute animation in the background of Toads floating around in space.

The next thing I took notice of was how long it took to load a character. After hovering over them, it sometimes takes a bit for them to show up inside the car off to the side of the roster. Again,¬†it’s not really a problem so much as¬†it’s just a tad odd. I’m guessing they were either trying to save resources or are loading more things behind the scenes.

Once I finally got to the race though, all was forgotten. I was zipping in and out of corners, flying off the side of the track, and being impressed by how quickly I was put back on.

Anti Gravity was a cool idea that I’m happy to have added. Though it’s been done before, it’s done better here.¬†This new feature gave the track designers the freedom they needed to really shine in their development.

On the same note, these are the best Mario Kart tracks I’ve ever seen. Every single one is a joy to play on. Even the remastered tracks feel brand new with their tweaks. There were a few that I couldn’t even recognize at first. If anything shines in this game, it’s the incredible track design.

Slight Changes

The first change I noticed was the difference in drifting. I still can’t put my finger on it, but it just seems different. My friends and I have noticed¬†that¬†bikes cut harder than karts, so maybe I’m too used to sliding around corners. Either way, I’m much better now!

Another thing I’ve experienced is that items don’t seem to do as much anymore. This really ramps up difficulty, as the game is now more focused on driving skill than luck of the items. I’m for and against this.

I like it because it gives my single player experience something more in depth than just driving around the track. I find myself carefully calculating things such as when to start drifting, which route is really the fastest, and if I like the teddy bear car because it has good stats, or it’s just adorable.

What I don’t like about the game’s new depth is that it makes it less viable as a party game. For your friends who are okay with learning the game’s new mechanics and giving it time, it simply makes it more fun. For those who just want to pick up a controller and play, it can be a bit frustrating. Flying off the track seems like a much more common occurrence¬†with these new physics. While a welcome challenge for some, it could also serve as an unwanted annoyance for others.

But back on the topic of items, they seem less central in this installment of the Mario Kart series. They seem to screw up other players just fine, but as far as mushrooms or starmans go, these seem to pack the least amount of punch we’ve seen yet. Simply running off road¬†can drop you as much as 5 places, whereas a star may not even gain you one. It’s hard to get used to, but items seem to be more opportunistic than they used to be, meant to be saved for just the right moment.

Zorpix looks good

Balancing Act

While items may seem nerfed or ineffective, they all seem more balanced. Getting blue shelled isn’t going to lose the race for you any more than sliding on a banana will (still sucks to get sniped right at the end, though!). Blue shells are back on the ground as well, meaning they can still knock over other players along the way. This makes more sense to me, as blue shells never seemed to directly help the user before. They were more of¬†a giant middle finger to the racer in first. It’s not at the point where it’s¬†hitting everyone in its path, but this is a good middle ground.

Karts and bikes also seem to have gotten balanced. Besides their drifting differences, they seem pretty even. In Mario Kart Wii, I felt bikes had a slight advantage as they were able to do wheelies for extra speed and seemed to be faster. But now they both seem to be quite balanced, and I find myself switching between the two rather frequently.

Online Play

As many have stated, the biggest hitch with online play comes from shortcomings of the Wii U itself. A hidden messaging system and no friend invites leave my friend only games blank. It is possible to join a friend’s current game session via the “freinds” menu online, but getting a few friends together still requires communication outside the system.

Also, there’s no public chat. I… I’m still just shaking my head about this one. Monster Hunter does it! Why can’t Mario Kart do it?

The online gameplay is fun and enjoyable, just like your offline experiences will probably be. You join lobbies, do races or battles, and win/lose points based on your position that affect your ranking. It’s simplistic, but it gets the job done.

I’ve had a few issues staying connected, and I’ve heard mixed responses about this. It doesn’t seem to be client side, as most of the people reporting connection hiccups have solid internet connections. I’m assuming that Nintendo’s servers just weren’t ready for the load it’s been receiving.

Block Fort Blues?

Of all the changes in Mario Kart 8, I think this is the one I’ve heard complained about the most. Battles no longer take place in arenas. They take place on some of the retro courses, and have players driving around those instead of traditional battle arenas.

I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first, but I fully enjoyed my time battling. I loved hiding in the reeds of Dry Desert, or camping under bridges in Doughnut Plains 2. It’s a fun switch from traditional arenas, but I don’t think a single soul would complain if we saw “battle packs” being released as DLC. I’m counting on such DLC happening.

morton kitty car

Babies and Turtles

Okay, Nintendo… We have to talk about your baby obsession. There are¬†five babies taking up slots in this roster.¬†Seven koopalings as well. The koopalings I’m not too sad about, because they’re bright, colorful, and kinda fun to play as. I just wish they had more to their characters than simply¬†looking different and being in different weight classes.

Babies should have skipped the roster altogether. I suppose I can understand Baby Mario and Baby Luigi. Fine. Have your babies, Nintendo. But Baby Rosalina? Baby Daisy? Those characters have never appeared in games outside the Mario Kart series. WHY did we need babies for these characters? It makes no sense, and looks silly.

Who would I want as extra characters? Well due to Nintendo’s recent obsession with Cranky Kong, I could see him coming aboard. I wouldn’t mind him, Boo, a Goomba, Ballyhoo and Big Top (Mario Party 7), Bowser Jr., Diddy Kong, Spike, Wiggler, or even ROB. You get my point. There were a LOT of options outside of the babies, but we ended up with five of them. Yaaaaaaay.

Stealing the Show

One of my favorite new features is Mario Kart TV, and the highlight reels. I love that Nintendo is getting more connected with Google and the like, letting you upload videos directly to YouTube. I wish there were more editing options for highlight reels, such as controlling camera angles and scrolling through all the footage in order to hone in on moments of your choosing. The slow motion can’t even be saved to your videos (at least not that I’m aware of).

Still, it’s a fun way to get your racing highlights out there for the public, and I think it’s a really fun idea. Below is a video of me and my girlfriend’s second race together!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fnPrvLCFQE]

Down the final stretch…

Mario Kart 8 is fun. If you want a kart racer that you’ll keep coming back to for the improvements you’ll see in your skill, this is a good one for you. If you’re just looking for a fun party game, go ahead and pick this up keeping in mind that it has more of a learning curve than you’d expect. For a 60 dollar title, a lack of things to do starts showing up fairly quickly. This game almost feels rushed in some aspects, such as some minor details getting overlooked. Lap and final times no longer show up at the end of versus or grand prix races, for example.

Despite its shortcomings,¬†this game will keep the kart racer in you satisfied for at least a few months, if not longer. It’s a solid racing title¬†—¬†and with the deal for the extra game¬†— it’s¬†totally worth the cash.

Miiverse and Zorpix

This week, I have some tournament news for you all!

Wii U Daily Official Tourney

  • Code: 1457-7399-3084
  • Time: Wednesdays, 16:00-22:00 (4PM to 10PM. I believe it might be central time, so GMT -5)
  • Items: All
  • Class: 150cc
  • COM: no COM
  • 8 races
  • Global

Those are the rules for the official Wii U Daily tournament! It’s first day will be today! These times are subject to change based on participation, so please check the Zorpix Den every week¬†for any changes. Due to my scheduling, I may not always be able to participate. Please understand.

Zorpix Official Tourney

  • Code:¬†9270-3285-4848
  • Time: ALL DAY EVERY DAY, BABY! WOO WOO!
  • Items: All
  • Class: 150cc
  • COM: easy¬†COM
  • 4¬†races
  • Global

This is my tourney that I’ll be participating in from time to time. I hope we can get both these tournaments up and running as best we can! I also like popping into friend games randomly, so be on the lookout for me ūüėČ

I think I’ll save my highlight reels for next week. Have a good week guys!

Wrapping up

Woo! We had a long one today! Thank you for sticking it out to the end!

If you do happen to have any suggestions for next week’s topic, any questions about the content I wrote, or just wanna say hey, feel free to sound off below! If you really feel inclined, you can mosey on over to my Twitter, Facebook, or Miiverse account.

I’m slowing down accepting friend requests on the Wii U. I’ll still accept a few here and there, but I have to start cutting down. I went from 10 to 50 friends in a day. Thank you so much for the support!

Thanks for reading, and happy racing! Hope to see you on the track soon!