Mario Kart 8

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Mario Kart 8
MarioKart8Boxart.jpg
International packaging artwork, depicting Mario, Princess Peach, Luigi, and Bowser
Developer(s)Nintendo EAD[a]
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Director(s)Kosuke Yabuki
Producer(s)
Programmer(s)Yusuke Shiraiwa
Artist(s)Masaaki Ishikawa
Composer(s)
  • Shiho Fujii
  • Atsuko Asahi
  • Ryo Nagamatsu
  • Yasuaki Iwata
SeriesMario Kart
Platform(s)
ReleaseWii U
  • JP: May 29, 2014
  • NA/EU: May 30, 2014
  • AU: May 31, 2014
Nintendo Switch
  • WW: April 28, 2017
Genre(s)Kart racing
Mode(s)

Mario Kart 8[b] is a 2014 kart racing game developed and published by Nintendo for its Wii U home video game console in May 2014. It retains Mario Kart series game mechanics, where players control Mario franchise characters in kart racing, collecting a variety of items to hinder opponents or gain advantages in the race. Mario Kart 8 introduces anti-gravity driving on walls or ceilings, and allows players to bump each another for a short boost. It has single-player and multiplayer modes, including online via the Nintendo Network.

Mario Kart 8 was a critical and commercial success upon its release. Critics gave positive reviews, praising its new additions, tracks, graphics, gameplay, and orchestrated soundtrack, but criticizing its limited Battle mode. It is the best-selling Wii U game, with more than eight million copies sold worldwide. The game continued to receive post-release patches and downloadable content, including additional characters, vehicles, and tracks, and support for Nintendo's Amiibo line of figurines. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an enhanced version for the Nintendo Switch, released worldwide in April 2017. It also received critical acclaim and was a commercial success, with more than 26 million copies sold worldwide by June 2020, ranking it the Switch's best-selling game. Altogether, more than 35 million copies have been sold, making it one of the best-selling video games of all time.

Gameplay[edit]

Anti-gravity racing introduced in Mario Kart 8

The game continues the traditional gameplay of the Mario Kart series, in which characters from the Mario universe race against each other in go-karts, attempting to hinder their opponents or improve their racing performance using various tools found in item boxes. In addition, the game includes four different difficulties, which can be selected before beginning the race to challenge players. Returning features from previous installments include motorbikes and 12-player racing from Mario Kart Wii, as well as hang gliders, underwater racing and vehicle customization from Mario Kart 7.

Mario Kart 8's new features include anti-gravity racing, in which certain parts of a track can allow racers to drive on walls and ceilings.[1] During these sections, players can bump into other racers or special bumpers to trigger a Spin Boost, which gives them an extra speed boost. New characters include The Koopalings and Pink Gold Peach. There are four new items: the Boomerang Flower, which can be thrown to attack players, the Piranha Plant, which attacks nearby racers and obstacles, the Crazy Eight, which gives the user eight items, and the Super Horn, which can be used both to attack nearby opponents and defend against items, including the previously nearly unavoidable Spiny Shell.[2][3] The game features 32 tracks in eight cups (Mushroom, Flower, Star, Special, Shell, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning), with an additional 16 later released as downloadable content (DLC) in four additional cups: Egg, Triforce, Crossing, and Bell.

Along with local multiplayer, Mario Kart 8 supports online multiplayer with up to twelve players and voice chat outside of races, however voice chat is only available with friends online. Prior to the cancellation of Nintendo's Miiverse social network on November 7, 2017, players could set up tournaments with customizable rules and schedules, post race videos there, and earn art stamps for decorating Miiverse messages by beating staff times and completing Grand Prix races. Miiverse features have been removed from the game, although downloading ghost data from friends or top players is still possible.

The Wii U version is compatible with the Wii U GamePad, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Classic Controller, and Wii Wheel.[4] The Switch version can be played with an individual Joy-Con turned on its side, the Joy-Con Grip controller shell, the console tablet with both Joy-Con attached, or the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller. Amiibo figures can unlock Nintendo-themed costumes to be worn by Miis.[5] A free software update to the Switch version was made in June 2018 that allows players to use the Toy-Con Motorbike from the Nintendo Labo Variety Kit as a compatible motion controller.[6]

Development[edit]

Initially confirmed in a January 2013 Nintendo Direct presentation, the game was later unveiled at E3 2013. Some members of Bandai Namco Games were given special thanks in the game's credits.[7] The "8" in the game's logo was designed to resemble a Möbius strip, as was Mario Circuit, one of the tracks in the game.[4] Early in development, the idea of using a drill to penetrate the ground was considered but was quickly discarded for not being as creative as anti-gravity.[8]

New features and enhancements were added via game updates. The first update, released in August 2014, included rearranged post-race options, an optional course map on the game screen, a player statistics screen, and improved online stability.[9] The second update, released in November 2014, added support for Nintendo's Amiibo figures, allowing players to unlock Mii racing outfits based on other Nintendo characters.[10] The third update, released in April 2015, added a new 200cc class, a first for the series, and additional racing suits unlockable via Amiibo.

Additional characters and tracks for the game were released as downloadable content. The first was a free set of Mercedes-Benz-themed vehicles: the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLA, 1957 SL 300 Roadster, and 1934 W25 Silver Arrow, which were released on August 27, 2014 as part of the Version 2.0 update.[9] On August 26, 2014, Nintendo announced two purchasable DLC packs, with each pack containing three additional characters, four additional vehicles and eight additional tracks; some of which are based on other Nintendo franchises, including The Legend of Zelda (Hyrule Circuit), Animal Crossing (Animal Crossing), F-Zero (Mute City and Big Blue), and Excitebike (Excitebike Arena). The first DLC pack, released in November 2014, features Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, and Link as playable characters. The second pack, released in April 2015, features Dry Bowser, Villager, and Isabelle. Additional multi-colored Yoshis and Shy Guys are included with both DLC packs.[11][12]

Promotion[edit]

Nintendo's launch promotions of Mario Kart 8 include a Limited Edition with a Spiny Shell figurine; and special Mario and Luigi themed console bundles, with a hat, strategy guide, Wii Remote Plus controller, Wii Wheel, and GamePad protector.[13] In North America, Europe, and Australia, players who purchased and registered Mario Kart 8 on Club Nintendo before July 31, 2014 received a free download code for a selected Wii U game.[14][15] As part of a promotional campaign with Mercedes-Benz, Mario, Luigi, and Peach were featured in a series of Japanese commercials for the Mercedes-Benz GLA, and three karts based on past and present Mercedes-Benz vehicles were added to the game as part of a downloadable update on August 27, 2014.[9][16][17] In 2014, fast food company McDonald's released Happy Meal-branded toys based on the game's characters and karts.[18]

A soundtrack album containing 68 tracks from the game was made available as an exclusive reward available to Club Nintendo members shortly preceding the service's discontinuation in 2015.[19]

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe[edit]

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe[c] is an enhanced Nintendo Switch version, released worldwide on April 28, 2017.[20] It includes all previously released DLC content, additional content, gameplay tweaks, 1080p graphics while docked,[21][22] and 720p in handheld mode.[22] Some features in Deluxe are reworked or restored from previous Mario Kart games: Battle Mode has eight new arenas and several gameplay modes; the Boo and Feather items are restored; and players can carry two items at once, even if they don't drag the first item. Five additional playable characters were added to the roster, including Bowser Jr., Dry Bones, King Boo, the Inkling Boys and Girls from Splatoon, and an unlockable Gold Mario costume for Metal Mario. Deluxe includes new racing suits for Mii characters unlocked via Amiibo, and additional kart parts for customization.[20] Nintendo's head of software development, Shinya Takahashi, confirmed in July 2018 that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would receive further updates,[23] with the first, a new vehicle and alternate costume for Link based on those seen in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, being released the same month.[24] A later update added support for Nintendo Labo peripherals as compatible controllers.[6]

Reception[edit]

Mario Kart 8 (and Deluxe)
Review scores
PublicationScore
NSWii U
4Players87/100[25]85/100[26]
Destructoid9.5/10[27]9/10[28]
Easy Allies4.5/5 stars[29]N/A
EdgeN/A9/10[30]
EGM4/5 stars[31]3/5 stars[32]
EurogamerEssential[33]10/10[34]
Game Informer9.25/10[35]9.25/10[36]
GameRevolution4/5[37]5/5[38]
GameSpot9/10[39]8/10[40]
GamesRadar+5/5 stars[41]4/5 stars[42]
GamesTM9/10[44]9/10[45]
GameTrailersN/A8.6/10[43]
Giant BombN/A4/5 stars[46]
Hardcore Gamer4.5/5[47]4.5/5[48]
HyperN/A90/100[49]
IGN9.3/10[50]9/10[51]
JoystiqN/A4.5/5 stars[52]
Nintendo Life10/10[53]9/10 stars[54]
Nintendo World Report8.5/10[55]7.5/10[56]
ONMN/A96%[57]
Pocket Gamer4.5/5 stars[58]N/A
PolygonN/A9/10[59]
Shacknews9/10[60]8/10[61]
The Guardian5/5 stars[62]5/5 stars[63]
USgamer5/5[64]4.5/5[65]
VentureBeat90/100[66]85/100[67]
VideoGamer.comN/A9/10[68]
Aggregate score
Metacritic92/100[d][69]88/100[e][70]
Award
PublicationAward
BAFTA2014 Children's Game Award[71]

The original game received "generally favorable" reception, and Deluxe received "universal acclaim", according to review aggregator Metacritic.[70][69] Considered by Eurogamer to be "the most vibrant home console racing game in years", the game was praised for its "exquisite details", vast sense of scale, orchestrated soundtrack, and gameplay.[34] Digital Foundry deemed it to be "near perfection" with "phenomenal attention to detail", featuring a "magnificent visual package" and "magical playability". Their technical analysis attributes the game's smoothness of motion and overall gameplay, to its typically high performance of 60 frames per second (FPS), with the split-screen mode's effective 30 FPS nonetheless comparing favorably with industry standard.[72] GameSpot generally praised the game, but criticized the game's Battle Mode for reusing the game's main race courses instead of presenting uniquely created battle arenas as prior Mario Kart games had done.[40]

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe received critical acclaim with many critics highlighting the revamped battle mode as a welcome improvement over the Wii U version.[69] It holds a score of 92/100 on Metacritic.[69] IGN gave it a score of 9.3/10, stating that the game is "just as amazing in 2017 as it was in 2014".[50] Eurogamer, referencing the revamped Battle Mode, stated that Nintendo fixed one of the game's only shortcomings in a "generous port of a modern masterpiece".[73]

Internet meme[edit]

"Luigi's death stare" is an Internet meme describing the automatic facial expression displayed by Luigi toward other characters upon attacking or passing them during a race, in which he gives them a disapproving glare in passing. It was featured in several viral YouTube videos and animated GIFs,[74][75][76][77] and the phenomenon was covered by WNYW in early June 2014.[78][79] The meme was acknowledged by Nintendo during their E3 2014 digital event.[80] Venture Beat praised Nintendo's handling of the meme, noting that it was a "slick way" of acknowledging fan culture.[81] The meme was nominated for the Best Gaming Moment at the 32nd Golden Joystick Awards.[82]

Sales[edit]

Shortly after the game's launch in the United Kingdom, it was announced that week-on-week Wii U console sales had risen 662% in the country, with Mario Kart 8 bundles accounting for 82% of the units sold.[83] In its first four days on sale, it became the fastest selling Wii U game to date, with more than 1.2 million copies sold worldwide.[84] Within a month of the game's release, it had increased to 2.82 million.[85] By the end of March 2020, more than 8.45 million copies were sold worldwide, making it the best-selling Wii U game.[86][87] Based on the sales data, over half of all Wii U owners have a copy of the game.[88]

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the best-selling games of 2017 at Amazon.[89] It is the first Mario game since Mario Kart Wii in 2008 and the first Nintendo game overall since Pokémon Black and White Version in 2011 to reach No. 1 on the charts in the United Kingdom.[90] Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the fastest-selling game in Mario Kart history, with more than 1.2 million copies sold worldwide within three days.[91] By March 2018, more than nine million copies had been sold worldwide, ranking it among the best-selling games on the platform, only after Super Mario Odyssey.[92] Three months later, sales had surpassed ten million.[93] As of June 30, 2020, total sales reached 26.74 million, and it is the best-selling Nintendo Switch game.[94]

Awards and accolades[edit]

Readers and staff of Eurogamer voted it as the Game of the Year,[95][96] and GameSpot gave it the award of "Best Wii U Game".[97] The game was nominated for "Best Wii U Exclusive" in GameTrailers' 2014 Game of the Year Awards;[98] for "Best Game" in Giant Bomb's 2014 Game of the Year Awards;[99] and for "Overall Game of the Year" and "Wii U Retail Game of the Year" in Nintendo Life's Reader Awards 2014,[100] and it won both awards for both categories in their Staff Awards 2014.[101] It won "Game of the Year" by The Guardian.[102] In IGN's Best of 2014 Awards, the game was nominated for "Best Multiplayer" and "Best Racing",[103][104] and won the award for "Best Wii U Game".[105] In IGN's Best of 2017 Awards, the Switch version was nominated for "Best Switch Game" and "Best Remake/Remaster".[106][107] It was nominated for "Best Switch Game" in Destructoid's Game of the Year Awards 2017,[108] and won the award for "Old Game of the Year" in Giant Bomb's 2017 Game of the Year Awards.[109]

List of awards and nominations
Year Awards Category Result Ref.
2014 11th British Academy Games Awards Best Game Won [71]
The Game Awards 2014 Best Family Game Won [110]
Best Sports/Racing Game Won
National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR) Awards Original Light Mix Score, Franchise Nominated [111]
Graphics, Technical Nominated
Game, Franchise Racing Won
Camera Direction in a Game Engine Nominated
Animation, Artistic Nominated
2015 18th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Racing Game of the Year Won [112]
11th British Academy Video Games Awards Best Game Nominated [113]
Audio Achievement Nominated
Family Game Nominated
Multiplayer Game Nominated
2015 Kids' Choice Awards Most Addicting Game Nominated [114]
2017 Golden Joystick Awards Studio of the Year (Nintendo EPD) Won [115][116]
Nintendo Game of the Year Nominated
The Game Awards 2017 Best Family Game Nominated [117]
Best Multiplayer Nominated
2018 New York Game Awards 2018 Tappan Zee Bridge Award for Best Remake Nominated [118]
21st Annual D.I.C.E. Awards Racing Game of the Year Won [119][120]
Italian Video Game Awards People's Choice Nominated [121]
Best Family Game Nominated
2018 Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Video Game Nominated [122][123]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Additional work by Bandai Namco Studios
  2. ^ Japanese: マリオカート8 Hepburn: Mario Kāto Eito
  3. ^ Japanese: マリオカート8 デラックス Hepburn: Mario Kāto Eito Derakkusu
  4. ^ Based on 95 reviews.[69]
  5. ^ Based on 82 reviews.[70]

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