Puching Zhang: Mario Kart 8 [review]

Our game reviewer Puching Zhang on what there is to love about Mario Kart 8. Deep dive review with screenshots, video …

aNewDomain — Cheers to Nintendo for creating another shell-smacking, engine-burning, physics-defying game that’ll have you screaming out, “Blue shell again? I’m gonna kill you!”

That’s right, Mario Kart 8 is out and I say the game is better than ever. With a ton of new characters and tracks — plus classic tracks from games past —  this game will even reel in anyone who loves to race retro. It’s the pinnacle of Nintendo’s work in the series. Here’s my Mario Kart 8 review, below.

All Terrain Racing, Even Underwater

With the eighth edition of the Mario Kart series, the game introduces both anti-gravity wheels and gliders. The new racing format is all-terrain. Whenever you’re launched a great distance from a ramp, you get a glider that allows you to control the physics behind your flight and the location of where you land. There are a series of gliders to choose from, but those are just visual effects. Cooler still, this game lets you drive underwater.

Let me repeat that: You can drive underwater.

This game lets you drive a car underwater with absolutely no limitations. This is beyond awesomeness. Not only can you drive underwater but you can hit people with items underwater. It’s the most-surreal videogame concept I’ve ever directly experienced.

All following images: Mario Kart 8 review, screenshots via Mario Kart Party


Video: Mario Kart 8 YouTube trailer

It isn’t just water you can drive through, either.

In one candy-themed track, you actually drive in maple syrup. It’s so epic.

The anti-gravity features also allow the player to drive along the walls of tracks, with wild drops and roller-coaster style loops to top it off.

Plus, if players hit anyone during the anti-gravity mode, both players get a boost.

Yes, I know what you guys are thinking. It totally can be used to screw people over when two people boost off each other to get ahead of everyone else. But the name of this game is shortcuts. In some stages, the position you adjust the glider to determines whether you land on the shortcut and, as veterans of this game well know, there are hidden shortcuts in every track.


Mario Kart 8 also dishes out a collection of awesome new items, including the iconic fire flower, which can be spammed against your opponents.

Not only that, but items are no longer staggered by position. For example, back in the original Mario Kart Wii, whenever I was in first I used to just get bananas to trip up the people behind me.

People who arrived last would get uber elite items like invincibility stars or golden mushrooms. I can see why Nintendo would do this. And I’m glad Nintendo changed it up.

But on a personal note, I love the new horn item. It’s the one item that can stop a blue shell.

 Retro Tracks and More

Now let’s talk about the tracks in Mario Kart 8. Nintendo has chucked out tradition for this game in the series, one of which is Mount Wario.

This track isn’t divided by laps. It’s divided into three sections in a continual downhill race. That makes it one of Nintendo’s best works to date. And it gives the game that unique factor that separates it from all the other good racing games.

Each track is unique with its own elements, from the newly created electrodome to the infamous rainbow road. And some things never, as they say, get old. Mario Kart 8 features a lot of remade tracks from previous games. Old timers will definitely get a trip down memory lane. And it’s retro paradise. Would you believe that some of the tracks are remakes from Mario Kart for Nintendo 64 and  the Game Boy? It’s true. But don’t worry. The game does revamp all these old tracks, adding new corridors and even anti-gravity sections just to give those old tracks a kick up.

Also, with 30 characters and an awesome game-promo item called the Lucky 8, you get eight items at a time to use. Nintendo is sure keeping it fresh with this edition.

Mario Kart 8 Multiplayer Fun

Mario Kart 8 multiplayer mode plays like singleplayer mode, except the opponents are slightly more challenging. The player’s mii goes into an online server with other people from around the world, and everyone votes on where to race. If there’s a drawback, it’s that there are fewer available tracks to choose from in multiplayer mode.

It’s still a lot of fun. I like the points system that lets you see how good or bad another player is. Races can get pretty random, though, and that’s due to the new power-up mechanics in Mario Kart 8. By no means can you find noobs based on the points system alone. You know who you are.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I give Mario Kart 8 a nine out of 10. I’ve always loved the Mario Kart franchise and this game isn’t an exception. It takes my favorite childhood memories and ramps them up to the max. Mario Kart 8 is great. It not only appeals to young kids who love Mario, but it also brings in the old breed like me. And that’s ironic, because I’m not even in my 20s yet. But I do feel a sense of nostalgia for old tracks like those I enjoyed in the, ahem, good old days.

Watch for Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Wii and Wii U.

Until the next review, this is Fegelein Puching Zhang signing off for aNewDomain.net.

Based in Chicago, Fegelein Puching Zhang is our gaming scribe at aNewDomain.net. Read more of his work here or contact Fegelein at puching@anewdomain.net.