Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) review: The latest Nintendo kart racer shifts into high gear

Just as much of a no-brainer it is that each new Nintendo platform will inevitably receive a Mario and Zelda game, so too will be the case for an iteration of Mario Kart, the company's venerable go-kart action racer, which has roots that stretch 22 years, all the way back to the Super Nintendo.

Mario Kart 8 finds itself involved with a console in quite the precarious situation. Wii U is a platform that is still struggling to find itself, making milestone releases like Mario Kart carry that much more weight.

The good news is that Mario Kart 8 is the best reason why anyone would want to own a Wii U, not just for the generous amount of characters, new items and tracks, but also for its universal appeal and sheer amount of fun it is to play.

Save for a few nuances, Mario Kart 8 is likely the best version yet.


Mario Kart 8 doesn't take the series forward much in terms of innovation, but it's the overall polish and refinement of such a successful product that makes the package so attractive.

So what's new in Mario Kart 8?

A fair amount. There are obviously new tracks -- devilishly smart and expertly crafted in their own unique ways. They're filled with cleverly hidden shortcuts and gravity-bending designs, totaling 32 maps in all, with half of those being rebooted courses from the Mario Kart vault.


There's also a healthy amount of new items. The piranha plant attaches a potted chomper to the front of your kart and will snag coins or attack opponents. The boomerang flower can attack another racer on its path out or back in. Pick up a "crazy 8" bonus and you've got eight classic power-up items at your disposal. Finally, while it's super rare (I've only received it once in my multiple weeks of play), the super horn will allow you to defend against attack items, including the dreaded first-place buzzkiller, the spiked blue shell.

Be sure to check out what GameSpot has to say about Mario Kart 8.

There are plenty of characters to choose from, and you'll also decide your vehicle and wheel composition of choice, which will dictate the characteristics of how your kart or bike will respond on the track.

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