Preview: Mario Kart 8

This weekend I played Mario Kart 8. And I was happy.

Not being the kind of special soul who gets access to review copies of games from Nintendo, I had to trudge my way down to my local Target to play a special demo version of the game. I sought out the kiosk where the game had been set up, expecting to have to shove 20 or so school kids out of the way before I could lay hands on the GamePad. Worryingly there was literally no one playing it; a worrying sign for a game that Nintendo is hoping will be a system seller. It was great news for me though, as it meant I could get straight into the karting action.

MK8

Immediately selecting my go-to character, Donkey Kong, I played three of the six or so tracks the demo had available to play; Mario Kart Stadium, Sunshine Airport and Sweet Sweet Canyon. The controls felt a little sluggish. I’m not sure if it was because this publicly accessable GamePad had been used to within an inch of its life by many other people before me, or if it’s some new quirk of control Mario Kart 8 uses. I may just have been forced to play 50cc and not know it. Sufficed to say, drifting wasn’t the effortless task it’s always been. That aside, the game played just as well as every other Mario Kart since the N64 days. The new anti-grav stuff was also pretty fun, even if it is just Mario Kart 8’s defining gimmick.

Graphically the game looked amazing, but it didn’t seem to quite match up to some of the pictures we’ve seen as we’ve built up to the release date. Again, it’s hard to tell if those pictures were bullshots or not, but I was able to easily make out some jaggies. However, it’s clear that Nintendo has gone the extra mile in making the game look as pretty as a game on the Wii U can look. Donkey Kong’s fur in particular looked great, bristling in the wind as he dutifully followed my driving instructions. Nice.

It was hard to form a strong impression of the sound so I’ll leave that for the full review. Similarly I didn’t get to try multiplayer, or Battle Mode. Obviously standing at a kiosk in a busy department store is not the optimal way for one to play a game, but still, I enjoyed my brief time with Mario Kart 8.

Look for the full review in just under two weeks time!

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