Hideki Konno Emphasizes That Mario Kart 8 Balancing Means It's Not All About Luck
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Promises that the new Rainbow Road is "spectacular"
As this is Mario Kart 8 day, or so it seems, there are some more snippets emerging from a GDC (Game Developers Conference) group interview held by game producer Hideki Konno in March. We've already heard details on why a custom track creator hasn't been included, and Gamespot has now pitched in with some additional snippets from that interview.
In this case Konno-san tackles the perception that the Mario Kart franchise — at least in recent generations — is largely based on luck; the brutal item distribution in Mario Kart Wii certainly contributed to this perception. Although our time with Mario Kart 8 prompted its share of humorous shakes of the head and expletive-laden rants, arguably part of the beauty of the series, the new entry does seem nicely balanced and relatively fair, at least based on the build we played. Konno-san said the following when emphasizing that a great deal of effort goes into the balancing for the kart racing series, in order to avoid accusations of unfairness or an excessive reliance on good fortune.
Game balance is also another really important element of Mario Kart that we look very closely at and place a lot of value on. From the time we start working on development, thousands of times, maybe even tens of thousands of times, we adjust that balance when we're playing. At the end we come up with what we hope and feel is a really good balance. It's our strong hope that folks would want to play with the items as we have balanced them.
We do hear, and a lot of people out there say it, that Mario Kart is all about luck. That if you're at the front then you'll get hit with a blue shell, so it's all about luck. That feature is not random — it doesn't just happen. There is a lot of adjustment and there is a lot of thought and effort put into that system, and developing it in a way that actually promotes game balance. I would hope people understand that as well.
In the same article Konno-san states — as we now know from the latest trailer, below — that the Rainbow Road track from Mario Kart 64 is one of the remixed tracks. As per tradition there'll also be a new Rainbow Road, and the producer had no hesitation in talking it up.
Rainbow Road of course is a classic course. This time we actually grabbed Rainbow Road N64 version in addition to the current iteration of Rainbow Road. So we hope you look forward to racing on both of those courses.
One thing I do want to mention is Rainbow Road, that final course. We really want you to look forward to what we've done to it this time because it's something else. It's really spectacular.
We suspect it'll be one of the last tracks revealed prior to the title's launch; with anti-gravity, flight and underwater driving all possible there's plenty of scope for an outlandish design.
As for the overall balance promised by Konno-san, one thing is unavoidable — no matter how well balanced it is, there will be rage; that's Mario Kart.