Following on from our reader-voted Top 50 Games of the Decade, Nintendo Life staff members will be picking their personal favourite Nintendo games between the years 2010-2019. Today, Darren looks back at the golden age of the Wii U era in 2014 and beyond...
Ah, the good old Wii U. While it was a bit of a commercial flop, the much misunderstood dinky console did sure have some amazing games during its brief lifetime. Of course, since the days of the Super NES no Nintendo console generation can pass without a Mario Kart game and Mario Kart 8 sure was a belter.
While it's possibly not the most exciting choice for my Game of the Decade, it is probably the game which I've had the most fun with over the years (mostly with the kids!). Of course with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe coming so soon after the Nintendo Switch launch, this has ensured that we always have a convenient way to enjoy this gem, whether at home or on our travels.
Back in May 2014, I remember eagerly looking forward to playing what would be the first Mario Kart in glorious HD in the comfort of my home. I'd played a bit in advance sessions at Nintendo's headquarters, which convinced me that this one was going to be the best entry ever, what with its fancy anti-gravity sections and smooth 60 FPS gameplay. Having young kids at the time, it was a game which we could enjoy together, too. Sometimes we'd race each other with me feigning a complete inability to beat them in VS mode, other times they'd cheer me on as I worked through the 150cc mode and tried to get all the gold trophies and 3 stars.
It's impossible to overstate how delighted I was when the Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing DLC packs were announced for Mario Kart 8. The new courses were a welcome addition and being able to play as Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach and Link was a revelation. Of course, the jewel in the crown of these DLC packs was the F-Zero themed level which fit perfectly with the anti-gravity vibes. Such a nice surprise.
Something about the game made it feel more polished than ever. Perhaps it was the high-definition lick of paint it brought to the table, or the way it drew on the best elements from previous games and felt like a true culmination of series' best bits. Maybe Luigi's adorable death stare had something to do with it, but Mario Kart 8 had that special Nintendo sauce which kept me coming back time and again.
The Deluxe version on Switch bundled all that DLC goodness in and added a proper Battle Mode, the absence of which one of the only marks against the Wii U original. A dusting of the 200cc class, extra items and characters was the icing on an already delicious cake, with other additions like optional Smart Steering making the game even more accessible for novices than before.
With a whopping 19 million units of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sold on the Switch, Nintendo's kart racer has cemented itself as the most popular game on the Switch, way above even the excellent Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild... that's quite the achievement. Even in its original form, though, for me Mario Kart 8 was always ahead of the pack. Now while we wait for Mario Kart 9, let's have some more lovely DLC please Nintendo!