Nintendo has pulled another Nintendo Direct rabbit out of the hat with its Mario Kart 8 videos, which were released straight onto YouTube. There were subtle regional differences, including the range of titles available in the undoubtedly attractive free Wii U game Club Nintendo promotion, while the North American broadcast had a few extra doses of humour.
What the videos do achieve, most importantly for those desperate to learn more about Mario Kart 8, is lift the lid on a number of features that have been cause for speculation or leaks. There are, actually, a few details that remain mysteries, but we did learn a lot.
The following details were given regarding online races:
- Four different modes — Worldwide, Regional, Friends and Tournaments,
- Voice and text chat are now available in lobbies, the former utilising the GamePad microphone — this is in addition to the standard set messages.
- Tournaments — An intriguing new option, this allows you to set up tournaments for specific times, days and with customisable rules. This includes setting speed class, teams, items, vehicles, control methods, frequency of tournament (such as weekly) and who can take part. It looks to be integrated with Miiverse, and appears to be an extended option of an equivalent mode in Mario Golf: World Tour.
- Ghost data — download data to race against, including friends, the top 10 players in the world or the development team; beating the latter will reward you with stamps.
- Mario Kart TV — It was confirmed previously that you can view a highlight reel, with options to rewind or use slow-mo, and then upload to Miiverse. It was shown how it'll be possible for others to download and watch your highlights — and vice-versa — while there'll be a display of most popular replays. It'll be an option to comment on videos through Miiverse, while racers can also directly upload their videos to their YouTube accounts by using a Google login, all from in the game.
Rather like in Mario Kart 7, vehicles can be customised in three key areas — body, tires and glider wing. These will all influence different aspects, and the idea is that Mario Kart 8 will offer the most flexible options yet. The broadcast did show some particular combos, details below.
Body — Circuit Special
Tires — High-performance Slick Tires
Glider — Super Glider
Performance (out of 6 stars) — Speed at 5 stars, Acceleration at 2 stars, Weight at 4 stars, Cornering at 3 stars, Grip at 3 stars
Body — Sport Bike
Tires — High-stability Slim Tires
Glider — Super Glider
Performance (out of 6 stars) — Speed at 4.5 stars, Acceleration at 4 stars, Weight at 4 stars, Cornering at 4 stars, Grip at 2 stars
Body — Standard ATV
Tires — Shock absorbing Monster Tires
Glider — Wild flying-squirrel Waddle Wing
Performance (out of 6 stars) — Speed at 4 stars, Acceleration at 1 star, Weight at 5 stars, Cornering at 1.5 stars, Grip at 5 stars
Body — Prancer
Tires — Elegant Wood Tires
Glider — Graceful Peach Parasol
Performance (out of 6 stars) — Speed at 3 stars, Acceleration at 3 stars, Weight at 3 stars, Cornering at 3.5 stars, Grip at 4.5 stars
Some new items were shown off, some that had been available in preview builds and others that are brand new. Details are below, with the new reveals and information at the top.
- Super Horn — Could be hugely useful: it's a one-hit item that can hit nearby rivals with a burst of noise, but can also take out approaching shells and even the blue Spiny Shell.
- Crazy Eight — An upgrade on the MK7 equivalent, this provides the following weapons: Invincibility Star, Ink Blooper, Coin, Mushroom, Bob-omb, Banana Peel, Red Shell and a Green Shell.
- Boomerang — This can be thrown three times, and is useful for pulling off hits as it's thrown and as it returns.
- Piranha Plant — A favourite of ours in hands-on time, this powerful weapon flips over other racers, eats bananas and grabs items.
Some new racers were shown, with a confirmed 30 making up the roster, along with the option to play as Mii characters. Two were new reveals, while the Koopalings were shown once again.
- Baby Rosalina
- Pink Gold Peach
Bike vs. Kart
In a humorous but fairly interesting segment, MK8 director Kosuki Yabuki showed off his skills while taking equivalent bike and kart setups on multiple laps around Moo Moo Meadows and Mario Circuit, in order to demonstrate the strengths of each vehicle. With multiple laps and remarkably close times, it was shown that the bike was a little quicker on the turn-heavy Moo Moo Meadows, while the kart was a quicker option on Mario Circuit due to the longer straights. The summary was that karts have an advantage on a straight, but bikes are faster around corners.
While not particularly new information for those that have been following the game closely, series producer Hideki Konno did explain the reasoning behind the anti-gravity feature and explained the Spin Turbo skill. The origins of these anti-grav sections came from the desire to introduce a new mechanic, with rejected ideas including races that go underground. It was explained that the option of flipping the camera when upside down was considered, but rejected in favour of having the best playable experience, a decision that absolutely makes sense for a game targeting gamers of all skill levels.
As for Spin Turbo, it's a boost that can be triggered when bumping other racers in anti-gravity mode. It was demonstrated how it could shift the dynamics of play, in which opposing racers could actually bump each other repeatedly for multiple boosts that benefit both players. Courses will also have environmental objects that, when hit, trigger a Spin Turbo boost.
As caught our attention when we played a preview build, this title continues the fine work of games like Super Mario 3D World in using music performed by a live band.
The Nintendo Direct closed with a new gameplay trailer, which in itself — along with snippets throughout the main broadcasts, shows some new courses. We get a good look at a new Rainbow Road course involving an outer space base, and a spectacular new Bowser's Castle track. Check it out below.
So there you have it, plenty to look forward to, though we're scratching our heads at the absence of the Battle mode to date. Plenty was shown, though, so be sure to check out the broadcasts at the link and below, while if you missed it we did go hands on recently for our own Mario Kart 8 preview.
Nintendo UK / Europe
Nintendo of America