Mario Kart 8 is now just a few weeks away, and the secrets of its modes and design have been stripped away in favour of anticipation as Wii U owners become keen to get their hands on the latest racer in the series. In a mini-interview with EDGE magazine, Kosuke Yabuki took the chance to explain some key differences in approach with this latest entry.
Though a refrain when playing any Mario Kart game can be to say "we've played it before", this new entry does have some surprises and changes for fans to enjoy. Yabuki-san has made the point that each title, from a development perspective, begins with a clean slate.
This time around, we really did add in a lot of new elements, but we also aimed to do away with explanations or tutorials as much as possible. The Mario Kart series cherishes both depth and breadth of gameplay; it's broadly accessible and anyone can pick up a controller and start playing, but at the same time the games are also deep enough that players can achieve greater results through practice. Each time we make a Mario Kart, we make everything from scratch: programming, graphics and even the audio. Even if we're making something similar to what was used in a previous title, it will be different because of the person doing it. We think the subtle change is crucial.
One aspect of the title that does bring relatively dramatic change is with the retro courses. As you may have seen in video footage of these circuits, the capabilities of the Wii U and the inclusion of new mechanics has drastically changed these tracks — Yabuki-san hope there'll be a compelling mix of familiarity and discovery for players.
A lot has changed since these courses first appeared, from kart behaviour to the camera and even the number of opponents, so we had to redesign the courses both in terms of their spacial layout and even the width of the tracks. We've also added in the antigravity, gliding and underwater mechanics, too, and the graphics and sound are all remade from scratch. But I hope these courses will still bring back some fond memories.
Yabuki-san also addressed the topic of the re-jigged Battle mode in Mario Kart 8. Unlike its predecessors this entry will not include special arenas, but will simply have racers going in both directions around specific tracks from the racing modes. It was explained as a decision to shake up the formula.
We've changed the style of Battle mode for Mario Kart 8 to use circuits that lots of people can play on. Players won't know when a rival will appear from around a corner, which will bring a new sense of excitement and strategy to this mode. In terms of rules, we designed it for playing with 12 players, including the CPU. In the beginning, you have to defeat the CPU players and earn your score, and towards the end it becomes a battle between just human players. That's the real thrill of it! It should be a fresh experience for users to be able to race backwards around the circuits they are familiar with. I'm sure there will be a few people who aren't so sure about us moving away from how we've done things previously, but I hope they try it out for themselves first. I'm sure it will be a new experience for everyone, [and] like no other battles in Mario Kart before.
So there you have it, some further insight into the degree of development effort that goes into each Mario Kart, as well as an explanation over the adjusted Battle mode. Let us know what you think of Yabuki-san's remarks in the comments below.