Review – Mario Kart 8 (Wii U)

BoxartMet with almost universal praise, it’s not unfair to say that Mario Kart 8 has taken the world by storm this week. I’ve seen the figure ‘1.2 million’ flying around like a blue shell, so I think it’s safe to assume that it’s doing quite well which, for the Wii U’s sake, it needs to.

However, contrary to popular belief, Mario Kart 8 is not entirely without flaws. In fact, it has quite a few, as in more than one. Multiple. Might even go so far as to say ‘several’.  What follows is an objective, unbiased and entirely honest list of all the problems with Nintendo’s most important Wii U game to date. If you’re not ready for the brutal truth, it’s probably best to just look away now.

  • Unless you’re playing on the gamepad, you don’t get to see the minimap. This is especially annoying in Yoshi Valley where there’s now some new secret method of ALWAYS BEING AHEAD OF ME after two corners.
  • There’s no lap/race timer in normal races. I’d like to know if that one lap where I got three golden mushrooms was my personal best, because I’ll never replicate it in Time Trial.
  • The single player AI still rubberbands, so you might as well do all the cups with a max acceleration car instead. Aiming for three stars on the 150CC and Mirror cups is worse than trying to play Dark Souls 2 with your eyes closed, because basically everything at that point depends on the game deciding to let you win or not.
  • When at the back of the pack, I only ever seem to get single mushrooms while everyone else gets Bullet Bills and lightning bolts (except for that one time I got a Crazy 8 in 2nd but honestly, that doesn’t count – I EARNED that).
  • My thumb is sore.
  • So far, I’ve only reflected ONE Blue Shell with the Super Horn. I wish this happened more often, because it was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.
  • Sometimes the online connection drops, usually when everyone’s finally decided to pick Electrodome after nineteen consecutive races on Dolphin Bastard Shoals.
  • I can’t choose angles/moments in my highlight videos, which makes it very difficult to highlight how I TOTALLY WOULD’VE WON THAT ONE IF I HADN’T BEEN HIT BY A BLUE SHELL, THREE RED SHELLS, A LIGHTNING BOLT AND BOWSER’S ROTUND BACKSIDE.
  • Wario doesn’t automatically win just because he’s Wario
  • There’s a LOT of baby characters padding out the roster, some of which make even less sense than usual. Baby Rosalina? WHAT?!
  • The pre-made phrases in multiplayer have nothing for playful taunting. The best I can do is to wait for someone to say ‘This is my last match!’ so I can reply with a sarcasm-laced ‘hooray’! As such, I’ve decided “I’m using motion controls!” is code for “I am better than you”.
  • Sometimes people are using motion controls and I feel insulted because they’re saying they’re better than me.
  • This.
  • The shortcut at the end of DK Jungle is bloody annoying. I got knocked off there once after landing a perfect powerslide jump by someone playing as Pink Gold Peach. This is somehow Nintendo’s fault.
  • Pink Gold Peach.
  • ‘Regional’ matches me with Australians who seem to lag a lot. Either that or they’ve got some innate Australian super-power to teleport like this is DragonKart Z.
  • The Blue Falcon isn’t in this game, so I can’t artificially raise my hopes for another F-Zero.
  • The anti-gravity probably means there definitely won’t be another F-Zero.
  • There’s way too many Rosalinas. Sometimes, I’ll be on the starting grid in not-1st and be forced to stare uncomfortably at the back of six or seven Rosalinas in a row. It’s eerie.
  • Being on the grid right behind Donkey Kong on a tiny bike is NOT child friendly.
  • It hasn’t yet sold enough in the less-than-a-week it’s been out to stop the endless stream of “IS NINTENDO DEAD YET? HERE IS WHY NINTENDO ARE AWFUL” articles on ‘reputable’ gaming sites from ‘totally legit game journalist people’.

screenshot01Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Zed,” you’re saying to me in your mind, “you’re just trying to write a wholly negative review to artificially generate some controversy and gain notoriety at this game’s expense”, you’re saying. Not an entirely unfair stance to take, I grant you, but I promise I’d never stoop so low. I wouldn’t be able to take enough showers in a lifetime to wash off the foul stench of unprofessionalism that committing such an act would leave me with.

If you look very closely, you’ll notice that only one or two of those criticisms are actually genuinely valid complaints and even then, they’re incredibly nitpicky. Reason being, aside from these INCREDIBLY minor issues, Mario Kart 8 is as close to perfect as a kart racer has ever been. But then, I doubt I have to actually tell you that.

screenshot04This is to take nothing away from the truly excellent Sumo Digital who, in addition to creating the greatest arcade racer of all time (Outrun 2006, in case you were curious) also gave us the incredibly accomplished ‘Sonic And His Sega Star Friends Do Some Racing In Cars That Can Transform’, or whatever the full title was. Nor would I even be able to tell you exactly what that game was missing that Mario Kart 8 manages to pull off, annoyingly.

I cannot make this any clearer: If you like Kart Racers, or multiplayer, or colourful art directions, or fun, or enjoyed a Mario Kart game once when you were 9, then you owe it to yourself to get this game. It won’t let you down in any capacity (unless you REALLY hate not being able to see the minimap without using the gamepad).

That’s why I had to put all the negatives together, and why they read like the most petty complaints ever uttered by mortal man. Because this is an actual written review and I can’t just copy and paste “IT’S PERFECT” four hundred times and call it a day. If I could, I would, but I’d like to think I’m better than that.


The Proof Box

‘The Proof Box’ is a potentially spoilerrific section at the end of the review where I provide visual proof that I’ve played the game being reviewed for reasonable enough time to form a fair opinion. Click the link below to view images proving that I have, in fact, played this game.




About Zed

Game designer, developer, writer, person who runs
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