Sales of the Nintendo Wii U games console have been sluggish since its release in 2012, but the company can always rely on its Mario Kart franchise to score a hit – and the latest version of the fun driving game is better than ever.
Mario Kart 8 follows the successful formula of previous games, but adds various new elements, plus action in full HD.
The game adds new tracks, courses and gameplay elements to improve on the top-selling Wii version that preceded it, although there are no major changes for the Wii U.
Still, the new courses are fluid and varied, and the game introduces a zero-gravity element for the first time. This sees landscapes fold back on themselves in the background and roads corkscrew all the way around, which looks great now the series has full HD graphics. And we found it didn’t distract us from the racing action.
Whether you take control of a kart or motorbike, your vehicle is slick and responsive. As with other Mario Kart titles, the action is chaotic and frantic, but it all adds to the fun. And players can use a number of controller options. Although previous Mario Kart games relied heavily on the use of weapons to gain an advantage, races are fairer.
Nintendo looks to have taken on board players’ frustrations about leading a whole race, but losing right at the end – now it’s more down to skill than chance.
It’s also possible to upgrade your car to boost performance. More upgrades can be unlocked as you progress, but you can choose the main type of vehicle and wheels, plus a parachute, which is used to glide between parts of tracks.
The action-packed title is everything you expect from a Mario Kart game. Don’t take it too seriously and it’s addictive fun for hours on end.