|Mario Kart 8|
Platform: Wii U
I'm sure most of you have played a Mario Kart game at least once in you life. It's a series of racing games that forgoes skill for "fun" with weapons that can send you from first to last faster than you can say "SCREW YOU!" and also loves to never give me anything good, even in last place! The game series is famous for it's rubber band system that gives stronger items to people farther back in position... unless you're me and the game just gives you squids and mushrooms! Yes... I HATE MARIO KART GAMES!!!... well I just hate competitive games in general... also I DO LOVE MARIO KART, but only when playing with family and friends.
Gameplay is simple, race against your opponents and attempt to get first place. Skill isn't a factor as the "random" item system will always find a way of screwing even the most skilled players over. It's a crap shoot... LUCK DECIDES ALL!
The game supports so many different controller options! The gamepad for once doesn't gel well for me when playing this game, but then again every controller option doesn't feel right! You can use any Wiimote combination you want so unless you are like me and wish you could use a Gamecube controller(although Nintendo did announce a Gamecube controller hub to be released around the same time as Super Smash Bros later this year. I sure hope it works with Mario Kart 8!), you're good. I suggest a Pro controller or Classic Pro controller since they do work best for long racing sessions or a Wiimote with the steering wheel. The game does support of TV play... but don't do it for 4 player because it's like playing on 4 GBA screens squished together.
Before each race you select a character from the roster. You start with 16 and you can unlock a total of 30 including you Mii's and don't be surprised if there are 6 DLC ones on the way. After selecting a character it's off to build a kart. The parts range from body, wheels and glider and each part has it's own stats but seem to be specific groups that focus on speed, acceleration, weight, grip and handling. Along with the parts having stats, the characters also fall into 3 main groups too. Lightweight characters get pushed around by all weight classes, have high acceleration and low top speeds. Heavy weights can throw their weight around to push everyone one other than another heavy weight, have high top speeds but low acceleration. Medium weight characters are balanced but can still push lightweights around. Mii's on the other hand are determined by the size of your Mii, so I suggest making multiples if you want one in each weight class.
Grand Prix mode is what you'll play for the most part. In these races you'll race against 11 other racers and for the first time, you can play this mode with 4 players! You'll race in 8 cups consisting of 4 tracks each and your difficulty is pretty much chosen by the cc's of each race... and let me tell you, luck always finds a way to make these races miserable. As in prior games, your position determines how many points you earn and the racer with the most points wins the cup.
Vs mode allows you to set up a custom race to the parameters you want. In this mode you can actually make it so only skill determines the victor... in other words, you can turn items off! This is where you should play with friends if you want to test your skills with them or just have a fun old time. I love this mode because just like Vs mode in Super Smash Bros, you can make it how you want.
Time Trial is exactly what it says. You put your skills against the clock to see how fast you can beat a track. You can also challenge ghost data to see how well you do compared to Nintendo staff and other gamers. If you think your awesome and want to show the world, you can upload your ghost and see how you stack against the world. It's all well and good if you want to test how well you know the tracks, but I honestly can't be stuffed with it.
Battle mode is where the random chaos of the franchise's crappy luck can lead to crazy fun... at least it did back in the past. Unfortunately the game no longer has battle arenas and you now battle on the race tracks in the game. This sucks because the matches take too long since you spend most of your time trying to find someone. Like before the winner is determined by the last person standing. The old fashion 3 hits and you're out rule still applies, but you'd be better off just racing instead of playing this mode. This mode just sucks and I can't see too many people enjoying it.
As with all modern games, this one has also been cursed with the cancer known as online multiplayer. Yes, you can jump online and "test" your skills against the world in "friendly" competition. You can engage in both Grand Prix and Battle mode online with up to 12 players with either global or regional players. Trying to link with friends is just that... trying, I had problems with it and I'm sure you will too. Admittedly the connection in races is perfectly stable, but before the race begins can take a while depending on the connection and where in the world the players reside.
There's also a feature in the game called Mario Kart TV... it's just a replay theatre. In this mode you can watch and edit your replays to focus on various moments in that race and even upload them to YouTube(YouTube account required). There are a fair few tools to edit your highlight reel, but I just don't care for the feature. The replay theatre is a niche thing anyway and the people who will enjoy using it will have fun I suppose but I care not for it.
Now there have been some changes to this game since the last few games. You can now drive on the ceiling in anti gravity mode and while in this mode, bumping other drivers is encouraged for a speed boost. Some new items have been added to make life more miserable.The new items include a Piranha Plant that chomps on nearby items and racers, a Super Horn that destroys all items including blue shells and stuns other racers, a Boomerang Flower that hits opponents in it's line of fire and comes back for up to 3 throws, Crazy 8 that gives you 8 items to use(green shell, red shell, banana, mushroom, coins, star, Blooper and a Bob-omb) and Coins are an item that's only used to give you coins... also collecting enough will unlock kart parts.
Speaking of unlocking parts, Mario Kart 8 allows you to unlock everything with minimal effort. Unlocking characters is done by just getting first in a cup, regardless of cc's or cup you choose. All the kart parts are unlocked by collecting coins and once you collect 2500, you've got all the parts. Yep... grinding for coins to unlock parts... grinding in a racing game is worse than in any JRPG I've played!
Overall, this game has too many problems compared to previous games. The character diversity sucks because there are too many babies and the metal characters are a dumb idea and is one of my biggest gripes. The battle mode is terrible and makes me glad I still have Mario Kart Double Dash, which has the best battle mode in my opinion. The game isn't fun on your own either! Online players are ruthless vermin who race like touring car drivers, no actually they drive like the inmates from the movie Death Race!!! The only fun you can really have is with couch multiplayer with Vs mode.
Look, Mario Kart 8 is a great game for normal gamers... just not a gamer like me. Normals can have competing online and on the couch with friends and family in all the various modes this game has to offer. The game's major flaws come from its character roster and it's battle mode being crap. Despite my hatred of games that focus on competition over fun, this game is a must own for the Wii U. I bought this game just to play with family since I lack the social skill require to attain friends and not to play on my own outside of unlocking all the content. I'm sure norms of the world will love this game and they should... I'll stick to single player focused games with little to no competitive rubbish, like Final Fantasy VIII