Among the roster of brand new Wii U titles announced during Nintendo’s E3 Direct presentation was Mario Kart 8. This now tried-and-true franchise has appeared on every single Nintendo platform since the Super Nintendo, and I had a chance to play the newest version at E3.
The demo spanned three separate courses, and it took me through the water, in a ghost house, on a street and in the air. By and large, it’s the same Mario Kart you already know.
Except it’s a whole lot prettier. With every newly announced and revealed Wii U title from Nintendo, I find myself marveling in the fact that the games both look great and should have been this sharp for years now. The fact that the Wii wasn’t an HD console is old news; however, seeing old franchises in a fresh coat of 1080p paint is stunning.
The new hovercraft features don’t really change up the driving dynamic all that much. The karts still feel largely the same, though bumping into other racers will cause you to spin out instead of nudge left or right. Beyond that? The grip and feel remains the same.
However, the perspective and course size changes with the twist. You’ll drive up walls or ride on the underbelly of a track, adding new layers of racing to seemingly closed off courses. That’s one of the biggest issues I’ve had since Mario Kart: Double Dash; the courses feel so narrow and tight that there’s rarely any room of creative racing.
The levels I played had all sorts of paths and shortcuts that hinged on the new hovercraft features. Despite the fact that they carried the same sharpness and cohesion that we’ve felt since Double Dash, the alternate paths made the experience feel much more open and free. If that translates to the entire Mario Kart 8 experience, I’m excited.
So far, it’s Mario Kart. The racing feels fast and friendly, the colors are vibrant and the presentation is crisp as all get out. It’s always great to see a new entry in this franchise on a new console; hopefully it lives up to its namesake.