E3 2013: Hands-On: Mario Kart 8

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

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The Mario Kart franchise is one that does not really need an introduction. It’s been around since the SNES days and every console generation has received its own iteration of Mario Kart since. I am more familiar with Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, so playing Mario Kart 8 at Nintendo’s booth was nothing but familiar. And for me, this is both a good and a bad thing.

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 features a new mechanic to the series: gravity wheels. These wheels allow for you to travel on the walls, the ceiling, or wherever else the track permits. I played two of the new race tracks and this feature was implemented into both of them. My understanding is that the camera tends to stay locked onto the kart, while it’s the course itself that will twist around the screen. Because the game is still in development and I was only able to sample a limited number of tracks, this may change in the future.

This particular feature, the gravity wheels, doesn’t really impress me a whole lot. I can say that it adds something new to the Mario Kart franchise, but it doesn’t stand out as a “wow” factor. What’s most captivating to me is how the game features new tracks to race on (who doesn’t love new Mario Kart tracks?) and the update in graphics. By no means do I judge a game on graphics, but Mario Kart 8 simply looked stunning in HD and 60 FPS on the Wii U.

Mario Kart 8 Gravity Kart

It’s safe to say that Mario Kart 8 will be a title I will own one day, because hey, it’s Mario Kart. But it’s a bit disappointing that it will be released sometime in Spring 2014, as one would hope for it to be released sooner. But thinking on it more, the Wii U is still early in its life cycle, and when I think of it that way, I think I can wait for some new Mario Kart action.

For more E3 coverage and hands-on impressions directly from the show floor, please click here.

About Jared Cyhowski

[Former Staff] Jared is a recent graduate from Fitchburg State University where he studied communications, video production, and English. He enjoys playing video games, watching anime, writing, and of course pizza. His favorite games are Shadow of the Colossus and Final Fantasy IX, but he can’t possibly choose a favorite anime. Jared enjoys following the games industry and observing what will happen next, and he puts out an invitation for discussion on these topics. He loves a great story in these mediums and prefers a stronger narrative design over most features. Jared is personally responsible for creating and managing the Anime section of the website, and hopes to inspired and entertain with everything he writes.

  • NinTemple

    A very fair article. When I first saw the MK8 trailer during the NDirect I was like “oh, hey, Mario Kart. neato.” Then, later, I saw some actual gameplay footage and, I don’t know, something about it blew me away!! The twisting courses (gravity wheels) really made me feel inertia … and I wasn’t even playing! …. or in the same room as the TV being filmed!! That’s impressive.

    The one thing I’ll challenge your write-up with is this: why is gaming media so comfortable being “ho-hum” about Nintendo sequels, yet the rest of the industry is flooded with same-y shooters and analysts still get all pumped?

    I mean, if people want to be “ho-hum” about one, shouldn’t they be the same about the other? This is separate from the content itself; either you like a genre/style or you don’t. But if the complaint is specifically “this isn’t very new” then…. y’know. Lastly, let’s face it, in 10+ years, which do you think is going to leave a more lasting impact: a flagship Nintendo sequel or Shooter Game 80?

    PS – I can’t seem to login and comment with FireFox lately. IE works fine (haven’t tried Chrome yet). Maybe something OpRa should look into?? I keep getting a “URL invalid” msg whether I try Twitter, FB or Google.

  • James Best

    Well, the new anti-gravity mechanic certainly has me excited anyway.

  • Jonah Rosen

    I personally think it’s “Wow!” At least, it’s more “Wow!” than than the overflooded FPS genre as they’re trying to do something new with it. Mario Kart seems to be trying to reinvent itself lately with each iteration, which again, is more than we can say for the FPS genre. for example, Mario Kart Wii had motorcycles and trick boosts, which whether that was a great addition or a bad one depends on the person you talk to, though it wasn’t in any earlier MK game. Then Mario Kart 7 had gliders which is also new, as it also reinvented the courses around the game, now we have Gravity Wheels in Mario Kart 8, which look amazing for this game.