Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

PACKSHOT
Mario Kart 8

GAME DETAILS
Released
30 May 2014
Format
Wii U
Developer
Nintendo

LATEST GAME REVIEWS
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited
4 Star Empire Rating
Sims 4, The
2 Star Empire Rating
Destiny
4 Star Empire Rating
Tales Of Xillia 2
3 Star Empire Rating
Metro Redux
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Last Of Us Remastered, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Mario Kart 8
5 Star Empire Rating
Titanfall
5 Star Empire Rating
Dark Souls II
5 Star Empire Rating
Forza Motorsport 5
5 Star Empire Rating

Mario Kart 8


submit to reddit

Mario Kart 8 (2014)
Review
A cynical person might deride Mario Kart 8; they might describe it as the eighth version of an outdated franchise, running on a console that few people bought, which largely ignores that machine’s unique attributes. But even the most egregious of malcontents must disown such thoughts once they actually strap in and take this kart for a spin.

The Mario Kart games have always exemplified what makes Nintendo great: utterly irresistible to young and old, casual and hardcore alike. Their cutesy visuals and jolly atmosphere masks gameplay that mixes simplicity with downright brutality, creating an entity that is easy to learn, hard to master and above all, infernally addictive. And Mario Kart 8 may just be the best Mario Kart game yet. It addresses criticisms that have been levelled at previous instalments – doing a vastly improved job of conveying the sensation of speed, for example – and adds some great new elements to the formula, such as the tracks’ many gravity-defying stretches. Plus it looks fantastic: crisp and high-definition, with identifiable textures, despite the typically cartoony art style.

Mario Kart 8’s 32 tracks are impeccably realised, at once comfortingly familiar – the vast majority are inspired by classic tracks of yore – and fresh, thanks to the anti-gravity mechanic, which adds an unfeasible vertical swoopiness, plus underwater and airborne sequences in the manner of Mario Kart 7. There are more shortcuts than ever, including delineated vertical ones on what were previously walls. There are new characters, vast numbers of vehicle components and a handful of new power-ups. Of the latter, the best is the Piranha Plant, which handily chomps everything within (a short) range, including rival drivers and course hazards. The blue and white boomerang, familiar from Super Mario games, also joins the racers’ arsenal.

The familiar Time Trial, Battle and VS Race modes feature (the latter giving you fine-tuned control over designing your custom races), while Mario Kart 8’s online modes are pleasingly fuss-free, letting you set up races with friends or random opponents. There’s a great highlights-editing engine, too, and the super high-res nature of these victory clip-reels unexpectedly evokes the spirit of Gran Turismo.

Subtle tweaks have made certain aspects of the core gameplay slightly more forgiving – if you fall off a track, for example, you’re returned to the fray more quickly and blue shells feature slightly less frequently than before. But that’s balanced to an extent by the extra power-ups and when you step up from 100cc to 150cc, the AI, as it should, ratchets up the intensity massively, while the karts (and bikes plus ATVs, which are new), become much trickier to handle. It’s marginally less punishing than previous outings but you’ll still find yourself getting pulverised thirty yards from a winning finish with some regularity.

Mario Kart 8 is a glorious, pulsating triumph that takes the best aspects of its illustrious predecessors and remixes them into something that is fresh yet reassuringly familiar, accessible yet teeth-grindingly challenging, amusing yet tough on the psyche. It’s a lesson in how to hone a simple formula to near-perfection over a number of decades (although the retro-style music could do with updating). If only it had been ready for the Wii U’s launch, surely Nintendo wouldn’t now be afflicted with so much woe. As it stands, Mario Kart 8 resembles a master artwork locked up in some reclusive billionaire’s vault, destined never to be seen by the audience it deserves. But for Nintendo-heads, at least, this is the first game to provide unequivocal justification for buying a Wii U.


Reviewed by Steve Boxer

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Future Of Film: The Streaming Services Will Be Major Studios
(Or how Hollywood will have to start worrying about Netflix)

The Empire Podcast #129: Liam Neeson Interview
Plus Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Holliday Grainger and Jessica Brown Findlay drop by to talk The Riot Club

The Future Of Film: We'll Be Watching Films In Virtual Reality
Immerse cinema aims to become the must-have experience for the filmgoers of the future

The Future Of Film: Cinema Will Cross The Uncanny Valley
The future of VFX, from believable digital humans to underwater mocap

The Future Of Film: There Will Be Another Indie Golden Age
Independent producers are growing from micro-budgets to something a lot bigger

Empire's Epic Interstellar Subscribers' Cover
The countdown begins to Christopher Nolan's sci-fi masterpiece

Shut Up, World! Gary Busey Is Talking!
Strap yourselves in and meet a true Hollywood original.

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)