Mario Kart 8 Review

Mario Kart 8 is the latest entry in Nintendo's flagship kart-racing franchise, this time being launched on the Wii U. Can it save the console?

Published: June 9, 2014 9:00 AM /

Reviewed By:

Mario Kart 8 Key Art

Most gamers have fond memories of Mario Kart in their lives...whether it is from the first time playing Super Mario Kart or 4-player chaos on the N64.  With only a few minor hiccups in the series...cough cough Mario Kart GBA and Mario Kart Wii... Mario Kart 8 brings the series back to its glory, with not only addicting gameplay but graphics you have to see to believe on the Nintendo Wii U.  So click on through and check out my Mario Kart 8 Review.

Mario Kart 8 - History

Mario Kart is in a league of its own.  Literally, it created a league, and where few have tried to jump in, nobody has come close to becoming the system seller Mario Kart has become.  So is Mario Kart 8 finally time to buy a Wii U? Sort of a trick question because if you are a Nintendo fan or have any interest in Nintendo, you SHOULD already have dived into the Wii U, but since the sales numbers do not lie, and many of you have not let me answer this for you.  YES, GO BUY A WII U FOR MARIO KART 8! (They even made a nice bundle to get you started!) (And all copies of MK8 include a free digital game download through ClubNintendo!)

Alright, so let's get into the game.  The first thing you will notice is the graphics.  Many games try and show a spectacular package before the game comes out (cough cough watchdogs E3 preview), but for a game to just come out and perform as Mario Kart does is remarkable.(you even get 60 FPS and 30 FPS split screen two players!) Everything from the coins to the character's hair that flows in the wind just looks great.  Nintendo really spent a lot of time paying attention to the details.

Mario Kart 8 - Gameplay 

Now the basic formula has not changed much over the years, especially if you played Mario Kart 7 on the Nintendo 3DS, but there are some newer features I will touch base on.  MK7 added gliders to "fly" off ramps and underwater segments where your kart magically grows an underwater propeller.  Collecting coins helps you go faster and also unlocks new karts, in which you have customization choices for your base kart, wheels, and your choice of glider. I love that there are so many options (I love riding on the blue teddy bear kart!), so almost everyone uses a different-looking kart.  

There are also 30 unlockable characters, which are unlocked just through getting gold and winning, so no more driving yourself insane to unlock certain characters, I am talking to you Mario Kart Wii!.  There are 32 tracks, following the same style since the Nintendo DS, 16 New and 16 "old" tracks (i say "old" because some are very different they really feel new (Rainbow Road N64),  especially due to HD graphics.  They have also introduced 3 new items, a boomerang, which you get to throw three times either forward or backward, a piranha plant , helps you boost and be all around defensive item chomping everything around it,  and finally you can finally battle those darn blue shells that screw you over right before the finish, with the super horn that eliminates them with sound pulses. ( I will get into more detail of item distribution in my "hardcore" Mario Kart 8 section)

Mario Kart 8 - Multiplayer

Now, if you have ever played Mario Kart before, then you know multiplayer is where this game truly shines!  With a 4-player split screen, single-player online, and the option to bring someone online with you Vs. modes between just you and your friends, or battle mode, which they figured out a way to ruin by doing it on the tracks from the game instead of unique tracks designed for battle mode...o double-decker, how I miss you!  Online multiplayer now gives you three tracks to select from, plus a random option, which helps bring a wide variety of tracks to the mix.

Mario Kart 8 - "Hardcore" Gripes

Now some"hardcore" gripes:

1. Why in the world is the next race not the first option after completing the race and viewing the highlight reel is! Now do not get me wrong, the highlight reel is awesome with all the options, but I DO NOT WANT TO VIEW EVERY HIGHLIGHT REEL! I do not know how that made it past testing, but I am sick of tired of loading into highlights and having to then select the next race.

2. Item distribution is really funky (mainly online). Everyone knows you can go from 2nd to 8th real quick online, but the fact that I am in 8th now, and you give me ONE MUSHROOM, and the guy in front of me gets a star makes NO SENSE!  And this is quite common, you will get one red shell, and the guy in front of you gets 3!  In first and hoping for a Super Horn....NOPE HERE'S ANOTHER COIN WHEN YOU ARE ALREADY MAXED.  Lighting bolts are not as frequent, and I RARELY SEE BLUE SHELLS NOWADAYS ANYWAYS (some people may be happy about that, but if you get away early, you pretty much have won).  Now, this would be excusable if they had the stat for items like the Nintendo DS version, so if you want better items, you will give up other stats, but they do not.  Online matches have become survive the first item box and get away from the chaos of the middle pack, and you will do fine. Get hit ONCE; good luck getting back to the front.  The big reason I complain about this Mario Kart has always been about the items, and the insane chance of going from 6th to 1st, when it has now become good luck going from 6th to 5th because you got 1 mushroom, and he got a star.

3. Now, 30 characters is A LOT, but I could have done without all the Koopa Kids.  Like, where are Dry Bones and Diddy Kong?  (Now I really hope to see DLC, especially more remade tracks and characters, so this will not be a real complaint if they plan to do this!)

The Verdict

Now despite my "hardcore" gripes, I LOVE MARIO KART 8! Local Multiplayer is a blast, and the graphics and sense of speed is awesome! THIS IS THE REASON TO OWN A WII U! If MK8 is anything to get an idea of what the next Smash will offer, then Nintendo and gaming fans have a lot to be excited for!

TechRaptor reviewed Mario Kart 8 on Wii U. This review was originally published on 06-09-2014. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions, and for historical context.

Review Summary

Mario Kart has never looked of felt so good. Mario Kart 8 is reason enough to purchase a Wii U! Gorgeous graphics, great audio and awesome multiplayer will keep you entertained for a long time! (Review Policy)

Have a tip, or want to point out something we missed? Leave a Comment or e-mail us at

No author image supplied

Just the coolest nerd you'll ever meet. Army Reserve soldier/ college student. Loves anything Nintendo and Halo. Bringing my awesomeness to you!