In case you're the type of person who sees a wall of text and gets 'the fear', heed this, and heed this well: Mario Kart 8 is exactly what you want.
While many other franchises over-expose themselves with constant releases, Nintendo's most successful Mario spin-off has stayed relevant by dedicating itself to one outing per console and, more importantly, having a core idea that refuses to age.
With that in mind, Mario Kart's Wii U debut ticks all the necessary boxes. Drifting, weapons, the simple to learn yet hard to master handling, expletives your mother would be ashamed of, some of the best local multiplayer imaginable: all return. Taking an inspired approach from the DS iterations, the eighth entry in the series is easily among the best yet.
It achieves this by ensuring any new additions don't cast an unwelcome shadow over what makes the franchise so good to begin with. Anti-grav may allow Nintendo the freedom to construct a track that goes upside down, but you'll never be completely aware that's actually happened; the camera stays behind your chosen racer wherever you may go. Although that may prompt cries of 'gimmick' from a few, it adds a nice sheen to an already brilliant concept.
This sense of progression without unwise evolution can be said for the new items, too. All exist as extras to toy around with, but relying on banana skins and red/green shells remains as important as any other tactic you could devise. The biggest change in this regard comes in the form of the soundhorn, namely as it can stop the dreaded blue shell (a well overdue inclusion), but even that doesn't influence proceedings to a huge degree. Like much of Mario Kart, it all depends on the cards you're dealt.
Throw in Mario Kart TV – allowing you to access other player's replays and upload your own to YouTube – and the returning online functionality (which is passable, if not a little outdated), and there's simply no reason not to own Mario Kart 8 if you own a Wii U.
Played for 8 hours
9 / 10
- Still the best kart racer around.
- Local multiplayer is untouchable.
- Majority of new tracks are great.
- Some poor retro track choices.