For those who aren’t aware,
Mario Kart 8 reviews are rolling in. Along with reviews comes a lot of praise – it is trending at a very healthy 88 on Metacritic, 6 points ahead of its Wii predecessor. There will also be a fair share of criticism, such as the currently trending proclamation that Mario Kart 8 is racist, Battle Mode is wrecked, and it has very poor sales potential (really? Who would of thunk it). Casey Malone from Pastmagazine.com was the first one to truly stir the pot, claiming the roster itself is racist:
“The other notable omission is in the cast of characters’ diversity. After 30 years there are still zero Mario characters of color, a problem that Mario Kart 8 highlights by lining up all the characters on a single screen. When it comes to human characters, Mario Kart 8 is overwhelmingly white. Of the 29 drivers, 14 are human (including Toad and Toadette), and every single one of them is white. While it’d be atypical of Nintendo to introduce new characters into a Mario Kart game, it’s also where the deficit is the most obvious, and during play I found myself disappointed that Nintendo’s stable of characters so painfully fails to reflect the diversity of its audience.”
Outside of the fact that Toad and Toadette are not exactly… human, he ignores the obvious. That is, that Mii characters are playable as well, and can be any color of your choosing… should that particularly matter to you. I won’t touch much more on this as you are free to voice your opinions in the comment section, but needless to say some folks are picking a fight. Casey even goes as far as to say that the lack of day one DLC is a negative. Never thought I would see words like that uttered by anyone.
Another reviewer, Chris Kohler from Wired.com, really took it to the game for its
changes to Battle Mode:
“I’ve made this point before, back when Nintendo released its
iteration of Mario Kart for the original Wii in 2008, but the best feature of previous Mario Kart games was not actually racing around a track, but Battle Mode. In this gameplay mode, which has been present ever since the series debuted on the Super Nintendo, you drive around in an open arena, attempting to out-maneuver other players and kill them off by firing weapons at them. We would spend hours and hours and hours playing this mode only. It’s madcap fun, if done right.
Mario Kart Wii did it very wrong. Mario Kart 8 on Wii U fixes those problems, then adds new, worse ones. For some reason I absolutely cannot fathom, Battle Mode matches now take place on the same lengthy, looping race tracks as the actual races themselves do. This made no sense in theory, but my wife (another lifelong Battle Mode fan) and I gamely jumped in to see if it actually worked out in practice. We literally spent the entirety of the first match driving aimlessly around the track attempting to find each other. We could not. Time ran out.
We tried one more match, noticing that the customization options didn’t even allow us to turn off the time limit and turn the match into a last-man-standing affair. This time we just drove circles around each other near the start line, glumly firing green shells. Turned it off right after, never to be touched again.
What a mess! Who decides these things? More to the point, why? Why does there seem to be a team of people at Nintendo tasked with coming up with ever more elaborate ways to ruin
Mario Kart? The answer, as near as I can tell, is that previous iterations of Battle Mode were simply too much fun.”
Beyond all this, Polygon threw together a
bunch of fancy charts to tell us why Mario Kart 8 has the least sales potential, essentially relating install base to previous releases. Of course, this is really obvious to anyone, but charts at least make it look pretty. Not all is bad, as Simon Parkin from Eurogamer.net concludes:
“Bold, accessible, deep and rich, Mario Kart 8 is premium video game development. It feelsexpensive. But this isn’t the vacuous lavishness of the Hollywood blockbuster; its excesses and indulgences work towards a common goal – or rather, finish line. The game may build upon some of the steady inventions of its predecessor (the diversity of handling options, the airborne sections) but in these staggering, monument-like arenas, those ideas have been given space to fully blossom.
Video game players are familiar with the law of diminishing returns. Even as new entries in a series tirelessly improve upon their predecessors, our interest nevertheless wanes; with games, improved is somehow less exciting than new. Mario Kart 8 is a rare thing, then: the best entry in a series and the most exciting yet.”