I remember playing every single version of Mario Kart that has ever existed and loving them all. (Ok, maybe not Double Dash.) The Mario Kart series has been one of the most beloved franchises in Nintendo's history. Does Mario Kart 8 live up to its predecessors? I got to find out when I played it at the Nintendo Booth at E3 2013.
I got to play two matches against fellow Arcade Sushi writer Angelo. I picked Yoshi because, well, he's Yoshi. I had no other reasoning behind my decision. Or he was auto selected for me. I can't remember, I was so lost in my Mario Kart dream world. Angelo got to use the enormous Wii U controller and I used the steering wheel, which I've always hated using.
The graphics looked great on the Wii U. Mario Kart has never looked better. The environments were really detailed and the background colors really popped. I loved how this game looked. But how did it play?
It played just all of the other Mario Kart games. The usual power-ups, the drifts into speed boosts, the red turtle shell, the mushroom speed burst, etc. I didn't notice any new power-ups, but this was a demo and the game doesn't come out until next year, so either they didn't show up in my game or they weren't implemented yet.
What was cool was not only did you drive on the ground, but you could drive on the walls, even upside down. The tracks get crazy, and it can be disorienting. After a jump, my car turned into a hang glider so I could float to the next part of the track, but I lost my sense of direction and plowed right into a wall. That stuff happens though when you first play a track in Mario Kart. Over time you'll memorize each and every turn.
The vehicles looked great. I liked that one minute you're driving, the next minute you're flying. The chatter from the characters is all there, just like in previous versions. To be honest, besides the crazy track layouts, nothing felt that different. That's not a bad thing, just go in expecting more of what you liked about the franchise in the first place and you'll be fine.
Angelo beat me both times, which means I had to fire him right there on the spot. (But then I hired him back when he told me he got lucky.) Win or lose, you're going to have a great time with Mario Kart 8. Angelo and I had a blast racing each other, and the Mario Kart games are the best when you can play with your buddies.
Even Mario was impressed with our gameplay and let me cruise around in his ride for a bit. Thanks, Mario! (Luigi hit me with a blue turtle shell and I lost. Just wasn't my day.)