Mario Kart 8

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Mario Kart 8
MarioKart8Boxart.jpg
Original Wii U packaging artwork released for all territories
Developer(s) Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Director(s) Kosuke Yabuki
Producer(s) Hideki Konno
Programmer(s) Yusuke Shiraiwa
Artist(s) Masaaki Ishikawa
Composer(s) Atsuko Asahi
Shiho Fujii
Ryo Nagamatsu
Yasuaki Iwata
Series Mario Kart
Platform(s) Wii U, Nintendo Switch
Release Wii U
  • JP: May 29, 2014
  • NA: May 30, 2014
  • EU: May 30, 2014
  • AU: May 31, 2014
Nintendo Switch
  • WW: April 28, 2017
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Mario Kart 8[1] is a kart racing game and the eighth major installment in the Mario Kart series, developed and published by Nintendo for the Wii U video game console. First announced at E3 2013, the game was released worldwide in May 2014.

Like other games in the series, in Mario Kart 8, players control characters from the Mario franchise and participate in kart racing on various race tracks, using items to hinder opponents or gain advantages. While incorporating game mechanics originally featured in earlier Mario Kart games, Mario Kart 8 introduces anti-gravity sections that allow players to drive on walls or ceilings. The game features multiple single-player and multiplayer game modes, and incorporates Miiverse functionality and online multiplayer supported via Nintendo Network.

Mario Kart 8 was a critical and commercial success upon its release, and is the best-selling Wii U game, with over 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. An enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch, titled Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, was released worldwide in April 2017, selling over a million copies within a month.

Gameplay[edit]

Showcasing the new 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.[2] 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, Baby Rosalina, and Pink Gold Peach. New items include 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.[3][4] The game features 32 tracks, with an additional 16 later released as downloadable content (DLC).

Along with local multiplayer, Mario Kart 8 supports online multiplayer for up to twelve players, with voice chat support outside of races. Players are able to set up tournaments with fully customizable rules and schedules, download ghost data from friends or top players, and receive stamps for use on Miiverse by beating staff times and completing Grand Prix races. Mario Kart TV lets the player view replay data from other players, including rewind and slow-motion playback functionality, and upload highlights to the video sharing platform, YouTube.

The game is compatible with the Wii U GamePad, Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Wii U Pro Controller, Wii Classic Controller and Wii Wheel.[5] Players can also use Amiibo figures to unlock Nintendo-themed costumes that can be worn by Miis.[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 with Mario Circuit, one of the tracks in the game.[5] Early in development, the idea of using a drill to penetrate the ground was considered, but was discarded for not being as creative as anti-gravity.[8]

New features and enhancements are added via game updates. The first update, released on August 27, 2014 as Version 2.0, includes 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 on November 13, 2014 as Version 3.0, adds support for Nintendo's Amiibo figures, allowing players to unlock Mii racing outfits based on other Nintendo characters.[10] The 4.0 update, released on April 23, 2015, added a new 200cc class, a first for the series, and additional racing suits (including several non-Nintendo video game characters) to be unlocked via Amiibo.[11]

Additional characters and tracks for the game have been released as downloadable content. The first is 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, F-Zero (Mute City and Big Blue) and Excitebike (Excitebike Arena). The first DLC pack, released on November 13, 2014 alongside the Version 3.0 update, features Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach and Link as playable characters, while the second pack, released on April 23, 2015 alongside the 4.0 update, features Dry Bowser, Villager and Isabelle. Additional multi-colored Yoshis and Shy Guys are given to players who purchase both DLC packs.[12][13]

Promotion[edit]

Nintendo's launch promotions of Mario Kart 8 included a Limited Edition, which included a Spiny Shell figurine, and special Mario and Luigi themed console bundles, which included a hat, strategy guide, Wii Remote Plus controller, Wii Wheel and GamePad protector.[14] 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.[15][16] 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, while 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][17][18] In 2014, fast food company McDonald's released Happy Meal-branded toys based on the game's characters and karts.[19]

Reception[edit]

Mario Kart 8
Aggregate score
Aggregator Score
Metacritic (Wii U) 88/100[20]
(NS) 92/100[21]
Review scores
Publication Score
Edge 9/10[28]
Eurogamer 10/10[25]
Game Informer (Wii U) 9.25/10[30]
(NS) 9.25/10[citation needed]
GameSpot (Wii U) 8/10[26]
(NS) 9/10[citation needed]
GamesRadar (Wii U) 4/5[23]
(NS) 5/5[citation needed]
GameTrailers 8.6/10[24]
Giant Bomb 4/5 stars[27]
IGN (Wii U) 9/10[22]
(NS) 9.3/10[citation needed]
Joystiq 4.5/5[29]
Award
Publication Award
BAFTA 2014 Children's Game Award[31]

The original Wii U version of the game received "generally favorable reviews", according to review aggregator Metacritic.[20] 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.[25] 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.[32] 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.[26] The Nintendo Switch version received "universal acclaim" from Metacritic.[21]

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.[33] In its first four days on sale, 1.2 million copies were sold worldwide, making it a commercial success, and becoming the fastest selling Wii U game to date.[34] Within a month of the game's release, 2.82 million were sold as of June 30, 2014.[35] More than 1 million copies of Mario Kart 8 were sold in the United States as of August 14, 2014,[36] and over 2 million copies had been sold by the end of June 2015.[37] Worldwide, 3.49 million copies have been sold as of September 30, 2014.[38] As of December 31, 2016, the game has sold 8.26 million copies worldwide,[39][40] making it the best selling Wii U title at the time.

Legacy[edit]

The "Luigi 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 as he goes past. It was featured in several viral YouTube videos and animated GIFs,[41][42][43][44] and the phenomenon was covered by WNYW in early June 2014.[45][46] Moreover, the meme was acknowledged by Nintendo during their E3 2014 digital event.[47] Venture Beat praised Nintendo's handling of the meme, noting that "It was a slick way of acknowledging fan culture without taking it away from them."[48] The meme was nominated for the Best Gaming Moment at the 32nd Golden Joystick Awards.[49]

Accolades[edit]

List of awards and nominations
Year Awards Category Result Ref.
2014 British Academy of Film and Television Arts 2014 Children's Game Award Won [31]
Eurogamer Game of the Year 2014 Won [50]
Reader's top 50 games of 2014 Won [51]
GameSpot's Game of the Year 2014 Wii U Game of the Year Won [52]
GameTrailers' Best of 2014 Best Wii U Exclusive Nominated [53]
Giant Bomb's 2014 Game of the Year Awards Best Game Nominated [54]
Nintendo Life's Reader Awards 2014 Overall Game of the Year Nominated [55]
Wii U Retail Game of the Year Nominated
Nintendo Life's Staff Awards 2014 Overall Game of the Year Won [56]
Wii U Retail Game of the Year Won
The Game Awards Best Family Game Won [57]
Best Sports/Racing Game Won
The Guardian Game of the Year Won [58]
National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR) awards Original Light Mix Score, Franchise Nominated [59]
Graphics, Technical Nominated
Game, Franchise Racing Won
Camera Direction in a Game Engine Nominated
Animation, Artistic Nominated
2015 Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences' Interactive Achievement Awards Racing Game of the Year Won [60]
IGN's Best of 2014 Best Competitive Multiplayer Nominated [61]
Best Racing Nominated [62]
Best Wii U Game Won [63]
11th British Academy Video Games Awards Best Game Nominated [64]
Audio Achievement Nominated
Family Game Nominated
Multiplayer Game Nominated
Nickelodeon's 28th Annual Kids' Choice Awards Most Addicting Game Nominated [65]

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe[edit]

An enhanced port for the Nintendo Switch, titled Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, was released worldwide on April 28, 2017.[66] In addition to the inclusion of all previously released DLC content, the port also features additional content. Battle Mode was reworked to be similar to that of previous Mario Kart games, in which players drive around an enclosed arena and attack their opponents, with eight new arenas and several gameplay modes featured. The Boo and Feather items from previous games returned, with Deluxe also allowing players to now carry two items at once. Five additional playable characters were added to the roster, including Bowser Jr., Dry Bones, King Boo, and the Boy and Girl Inklings from Splatoon. The port also includes new Mii racing suits unlocked via Amiibo and an unlockable Gold Mario color for Metal Mario, as well as additional kart parts for customization.[66]

The port received critical acclaim with many critics highlighting the revamped battle mode as a welcome improvement over the Wii U version.[21] It holds a score of 92/100 on Metacritic.[21] IGN gave it a score of 9.3/10, stating that the game is "just as amazing in 2017 as it was in 2014".[citation needed] 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".[67]

By the time of release, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe became the best-selling game of 2017 on Amazon.[68] It also became the first Mario game since Mario Kart Wii in 2008 and the first Nintendo game overall since Pokémon Black and White in 2011 to reach No. 1 on the charts in the United Kingdom.[69] Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also became the fastest-selling game in the franchise's history, selling 459,000 copies on launch day in the US[70] and over 550,000 copies in the first two days of sales.[71] As of May 1, 2017, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has sold over 1.2 million copies worldwide.[72]

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External links[edit]