Mario Kart 8 has been out for a month and I think it is the best in the series. The game has great tracks, well balanced items and is a visual showcase for the Wii U. However, during my many hours with the game, I couldn’t help but feel that the game was lacking in a few areas that could help it go from great to amazing. So here are the five biggest flaws of Mario Kart 8.
1. This All Seems Very Familiar
While I was smiling my way through all 32 of Mario Kart 8’s tracks, I just couldn’t shake a feeling of déjà vu. Sure, it was to be expected during the game’s 16 retro tracks that range from all-time classics like Donut Plains 3 to tracks that fans played two years ago such as Music Park and DK Jungle, but the core gameplay felt more of an extension of Mario Kart 7 than something brand new. While the anti-gravity sections look amazing and have you racing from every angle imaginable, the core handling isn’t changed enough to make it anything more than a graphical nicety. Overall, Mario Kart 8 does a great job refining what made ‘MK7’ good but never establishes its own identity in a gameplay sense.
2. Battle Mode
I have fond memories of playing Mario Kart 64’s battle mode with friends as a kid (I would argue that the battle mode was the only redeeming quality of Mario Kart 64 but that is an article for another day…). For hours we would hit each other with banana peels and shells in the battle arenas. I was hoping to create similar memories in Mario Kart 8 but it is lacking one major thing: arenas. The game uses a selection of standard race tracks as battle mode maps turning it into a wipE’out” style fight. While that may work in a high-speed racer with more volatile weapons it just doesn’t work in Mario Kart 8. Hopefully, we will see some arena maps as DLC in the future.
3. So About That Roster…
Mario Sports titles are accustomed to scraping the bottom of the barrel for playable characters and even creating brand new ones but something about having five babies and Pink Gold Peach just seems like one step too far. The Mario series (and its spin-offs) has a vast amount of great characters to choose from which makes this less excusable. Why not use an underused baddie like Mouser, Jimmy T from the WarioWare series or a character you can only see while drifting around turns such as Paper Mario? Those are just a few examples and I can only hope that we will get more interesting character choices in the future.
4. The Honking
I love being annoying in multiplayer games. There is nothing more satisfying than choosing Pikachu in a Smash Bros. game and making your opponent hear “Pika!”, until their ears bleed. So when I started up my first race in Mario Kart 8 and saw a horn on the GamePad I was delighted. My excitement immediately waned once I pressed my thumb to the GamePad and heard it in action. Sadly, the horns in the game are not loud enough to be annoying (although they do register a hilarious response from fellow racers). I for one would gladly buy a Horn Sound DLC Pack. Give me a classic Ice Cream Truck jingle and you will have my love forever, Nintendo.
5. What Is The Mercedes-Benz GLA?
Maybe someday I’ll be on Jeopardy and Alex Trebek will say, “This was the first DLC ever for a Mario Kart game.” While I will know the answer I will still be sad that the answer comes from this example of shameless cross-promotion. While I’m not sure how the Mercedes-Benz and Mario Kart demographics line-up well enough for this to actually exist, it does and I guess we all have to cope with the fact that Nintendo has grown up. Maybe it isn’t the pure-hearted company many have romanticized it to be. After all, Nintendo is a business and their goal is to turn a profit (something that is turning out to be more and more difficult now for a myriad of reasons). Regardless, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened but it still leaves a bad taste behind like eating Swedish candy.