Mario Kart 8‘s much anticipated release date is approaching, and Nintendo chose last night and today to drop a ton of information and media for us to consume.

Alongside the trailer (above) and screenshots (below), Nintendo sent out a press release this morning detailing a few of the game’s new features. Here’s the rundown, straight from that email.

New features in Mario Kart 8 include:

  • Spin Boost: While racing upside down or on walls, players can bump into other racers or certain track obstacles to get a speed boost. The Spin Boost fundamentally redefines the way that players compete, and makes anti-gravity racing even more exhilarating.
  • Returning Characters: In Mario Kart 8, players can race with returning characters Metal Mario, Lakitu and Shy Guy. These newly revealed returning characters join a host of previously announced favorites, including all seven of Bowser’s Koopalings, who are playable for the first time in video game history.
  • New Items: Two new items join the fray in Mario Kart 8. First, the Piranha Plant attaches to the front of the player’s kart and chomps at other characters, banana peels on the track or even shells thrown by other characters. Each time the Piranha Plant lunges forward to bite, the player receives a brief boost of speed. The second new item is the Boomerang Flower. After acquiring it, racers can throw a Boomerang at opponents to stun them, and its arc allows players to strike multiple opponents with a single toss. The Boomerang can be thrown three times – forward or backward.
  • New Courses: Remixed classic courses make a return in Mario Kart 8, with favorites such as Moo Moo Meadows from Mario Kart Wii, Toad’s Turnpike from Mario Kart 64 and Donut Plains from Super Mario Kart, among others. The graphics and layout of these courses have been redesigned and re-imagined. For example, Toad’s Turnpike now allows players to drive up certain walls in anti-gravity mode. Mario Kart 8 will include 16 new courses and 16 remixed classic courses.
  • Live Recorded Music: For the first time in the Mario Kart series, select courses in Mario Kart 8 feature music recorded by live performers.
  • Control Scheme: Mario Kart 8 will support a variety of control schemes, including the Wii U GamePad, the Wii U Pro Controller, the Wii Wheel and the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The game can also be played in off-TV mode using just the Wii U GamePad.

These shots represent the exact type of vibrancy I mentioned in the article about colors in gaming I put up with Eric Frederiksen a week or so ago. They’re gorgeous, and they’re instantly appealing based on their use of color.

Mario Kart 8, alongside the likes of Smash Bros. and Zelda, has become one of Nintendo’s biggest system sellers over the last 10 or 15 years. I’m not sure this one will have the same impact on the Wii U, though I’m hopeful that it’s as good as it looks.

I’ll be playing it on release, how about you?

Mario Kart 8 hits the Wii U on May 30th, 2014. We’ll have more for you between now and then.

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