Nintendo has surprised fans with a spontaneous Nintendo Direct focusing on the highly anticipated Mario Kart 8 for Wii U. The broadcast is fairly unique compared to other Nintendo Directs, but it delivers on the usual promise of new announcements and reveals. Let’s dig in to the meat of today’s broadcast.
New Ideas Plus New Technology = Anti-gravity
Series director Hideki Konno has stated that the anti-gravity portions in the courses of Mario Kart 8 came about as new ideas and new technology came together. Thanks to the Wii U, highly dynamic courses that allow players to race on walls and even ceilings is possible and practical. Anti-gravity may seem a little complex, but Konno promises that the developers have made it as comfortable as possible.
Two New Playable Characters Announced
Get ready to race as two new characters in Mario Kart 8: Gold Peach and Baby Rosalina. Yes, they are variations of old characters, but Gold Peach in particular is looking very cool. I would have been happy with another metal character, but gold comes off as very new and fresh. And Baby Rosalina is cute, as far as cuteness goes.
A New Miracle Item is Announced, Plus Crazy 8 Replaces Crazy 7
When I say miracle item, I’m talking about the Super Horn. It’s pretty generic on the surface: using this item creates a shockwave that causes surrounding players to spin out and nearby items (banana peels and the like) to spin off the road. The Super Horn also miraculously counteracts the most evil item ever conceived in a video game: the blue shell. That’s right, the Super Horn has the ability to break the blue shell just as it’s about to come down on you. Doesn’t seem too likely the lead player would acquire the Super Horn, but I’m holding out hope it will save me a race or two nonetheless.
Online Features Expounded
There will be four main online modes in Mario Kart 8: Worldwide, Regional, Friends Only, and Tournaments. Worldwide, Regional, and Friends Only are pretty self-explanatory. In Tournament mode, players can set up details like the time the tournament will take place, the racing rules, and more. On a happy note, there will also be voice chat possible between friends in the lobby area before races. And, possibly best of all, Mario Kart TV, or MKTV, has been revealed as the answer to fans’ question on whether players will be able to share videos of them playing the game. Players will be able to view their own and others’ “highlight reels.” As a surprising twist, they can also upload their own highlight reels to YouTube, provided they have a Google account. How easy and fast this process will be remains to be seen, but YouTube may have to watch out for a veritable flood of Mario Kart 8 uploads.
Other Fun Stuff
My favorite part of the Direct wasn’t any of the outright announcements: it was the footage of the game’s soundtrack being recorded. THAT was a real treat for a music lover like myself! *Ahem* Anyway…
A Club Nintendo promotion has been tied to Mario Kart 8: those who register the game between its release on May 30 and July 31 will get a download code for one of four other Wii U games: Pikmin 3, New Super Mario Bros. U, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, or Wii Party U. This is frankly fantastic. I think most potential buyers of Mario Kart 8 don’t have all four of those (I’ll be getting Wii Party U, finally), and it’s a great motivator for people who have been on the fence about getting a Wii U. Speaking of on-the-fencers, a Mario Kart 8 Wii U Deluxe Bundle will be released on May 30 as well: with a suggested retail price of $329.99, it includes a black Wii U Deluxe, a copy of Mario Kart 8, a special red Wii Wheel, and a Mario Wii remote. Not only does Mario Kart 8 look great, but there are a few promotions in place to further tempt people to buy the game and, if necessary, a Wii U system.
All that said, do you think Mario Kart 8 will turn the tide of poor Wii U sales? Leave your thoughts in a comment below.