Mario Kart 8‘s new trailer hit the web recently and fans of the franchise could not be more excited. The trailer shows off the new look that Nintendo is bringing to the iconic series in its latest game, all in glorious high definition. The game could not come at a better time for Nintendo, as the WiiU is falling further and further behind in sales to Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4. If this latest installment of the popular racing series performs as well as expected, it could bring new life to a struggling console.
Mario Kart has been a staple of Nintendo’s gaming franchise since the release of the first game of the series in 1992. Super Mario Kart hit the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) to rave reviews, with many gamers loving the use of Mario and the rest of the characters in the franchise’s universe in a non-platforming game. The first game also established many of the mechanics that have stood the test of the time and still exist in the Mario Kart games over a decade later. Whether it was the pesky turtle shells or the advanced maneuvers of powersliding, Nintendo took note of what worked in the original and built upon it in the numerous sequels.
The latest game in the popular video game series, Mario Kart 8, brings a new twist to the world of racing. The game will feature anti-gravity mechanics, allowing players a more dimensional field to pass by opposing racers. If the road is blocked by an aggressive driver, simply switch to the anti-gravity mode and drive on the walls or ceiling to take the lead. This mechanic is featured in many of the tracks, including a Mobius strip track that makes up the number eight in the game’s title. The game will also be the first in the series to have high definition graphics, ensuring that other racers will have a crystal clear view of a player’s backside as they pass by.
Power-ups have always been a key element in the series and Mario Kart 8 introduces a couple of game changers. The new Boomerang power-up flies out from its owners’ kart and can hit multiple racers at once before eventually returning, and fans of the Mario series will recognize the potted Petey the Piranha Plant power-up. Petey hangs out at the front of a racer’s kart, attacking and occasionally swallowing any opposing racers that get too close. Many of the classic power-ups are present as well, including the ever dangerous blue turtle shell, which hunts down the lead racer and takes them out of the race.
Despite the new look, the classics still make their presence known in this new game. Fans of the series are especially looking forward to the newly redesigned Rainbow Road, a track that has been featured in every game in the Mario Kart series. Rainbow Road is always the last track in the Special Cup mode in the game and is usually longer and more hazardous than many of the other tracks. The first glimpse of Rainbow Road in the game’s trailer shows that Nintendo is utilizing the new HD graphics to the fullest, making every color in Rainbow Road pop off the screen.
The Mario Kart series has been one of Nintendo’s most successful game franchises and is constantly ranked among the best game franchises by any developer. The series even holds the No. 1 spot in Guinness World Records for best console game franchise. Nintendo knows they need to earn the chequered flag for Mario Kart 8 when it hits stores in May, because if they make a wrong turn here, they may bring the WiiU and the iconic series to the pits.
Commentary by Jonathan Gardner