Pre-Departure, Video Games

Mario Kart 8!

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, then just over a month ago you probably saw the excited tweets and Facebook statuses about the arrival of something beautiful. And I don’t mean another of my housemate’s delicious birthday cakes (my birthday cake can be found on her blog here). Oh God, now I’m hungry.


Anyway, where was I? – Yes, the wondrous arrival which made its way into the house was Mario Kart 8! And what a fantastic game it is. After being ditched by Ollie, Helena and Jonny who I played Mario Kart Wii with religiously for about 8 months, I thought I’d write this little blog post about the main differences I’ve noticed between Mario Kart Wii and Wii U. I’m leaving out the obvious ones of ‘there are new characters’ and ‘there are new tracks’, and looking at the smaller details, some of which I’m not too keen on but have slowly become used to. I’ll limit to the first ten that became most apparent. Just want to point out, too, that I know Mario Kart 3DS was released between these two, but I’m ignoring that because we don’t play it.

1) Item boxes come back a lot quicker. When somebody gets an item, the box comes back about half a second later, compared to the 3/4-second wait on the Wii. I enjoy this change because, well, it gives you more chance to get an item!

2) Items a bit more sporadic. On the Wii version, it felt like there was a set pattern in that the further behind you were the better the item. Just a few examples: I’ve got a star when I was 3rd once, and a bullet bill when I was 4th. And a mushroom when I was 1st. It feels they’ve become a lot more lenient with who gets what item, which I guess has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on how far ahead you are in the race!

3) No choice between automatic and manual. This was one of the more obvious ones and personally more annoying ones. For me personally, it’s fine, because I can still do manual. But manual and automatic are kind of built-in together, and my housemates who do automatic have had many problems trying to turn corners because it takes a little longer to kick in. Quite annoying for automatic players!

4) No wheelies on bikes. Personally not a big deal because I never used bikes on the Wii, but this was a significant difference my housemate mentioned – you can’t wheelie on bikes. Not much more to say to that, but I can see why it’s annoying when you just want to wheelie to gain a bit of speed at the finish line!

5) Bullet noise doesn’t give away when it’s going to stop. A very minor difference, but when you get a Bullet Bill, you can’t tell when it’s going to stop. On the Wii version, the noise died down a little to get you ready, but on the Wii U it literally builds up and up and then suddenly stops – makes you pay a little more attention but it’s hard to get used to.

6) A lot less time is used up when you fall off the edge. The screen doesn’t go black. You’re literally picked up right in front of you and put right back on the track. Feels a lot quicker, which I guess is good if your one prone to falling off the track…

7) Bananas make you spin twice. TWICE. This very well could be the same on the Wii, but from what I recall I’m pretty sure the bananas make you spin a lot longer on Wii U. It just feels like I waste a lot more time when I hit a banana, whereas I remember on the Wii it just being a minor setback. I’ve lost a fair few places by slipping on a banana before! (And I never thought I’d ever type that sentence in my life!).

8) The 8-item. A very obvious one, but there are a few items new to the Wii U (and consequently some items have been taken out, including the Mega Mushroom and, thankfully, the dreaded thunder clouds). The 8-item gives you 8 items that spin around you, and if anybody bumps into you they can steal it or get hurt by it. And I hate this item. You have shells, a bomb and a star flying round you and if one person bumps into the bomb, then BOOM you blow up to. You also use the items in a random order which stresses me out too much. Not a fan.

9) All characters and can use all karts/bikes. I like this one. It means you can have your favourite vehicle with any character (or your can have your favourite character with any vehicle). The vehicle just changes size (thus all changing its stats slightly I believe) to fit the character.

10) There are quite a lot of split routes, and a couple of tracks which are one long course. There’s a surpsingly large amount of tracks that have split routes in that you can go more than one way. Off the top of my head I can think of at least 6. From what I remember about Mario Kart Wii, this doesn’t happen at all, or at least if it does it’s very rare. I think it’s mainly to make use of the play on gravity – quite often one path will be on the wall or the road will split into two where one goes on the left wall and one on the right. It’s quite fun, and so far I haven’t noticed any way being quicker than another (apart from one track which splits off about 6 or 7 ways – always turn left and then left again!).

But, all in all, I love it. Amazing game. I want to play it now but my housemate is watching James Bond. Sigh. It’ll be worth the wait!

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