Friday, February 14, 2014

Revved Up: Our Mario Kart 8 Wishlist

Happy Valentine's Day! What better way for us to celebrate this day than by talking about the newest installment of a franchise we love. Yesterday, Nintendo had one of its special Nintendo Direct presentations. Included in the forty-something minute showing was a new trailer for Mario Kart 8. We think it would make sense after we've let the footage sink in to come up with what we'd like to see in the next installment of this longest-running kart racing series. From returning features and modes to returning characters and tracks, we have our desires for Mario Kart 8 listed for you to carouse. Of course, more wants means an increased chance of not getting what we want on a lot of things. Still, we had fun coming up with this feature.


- The ability to play cups with local players

Ever since Mario Kart DS introduced a ranking system for cups, it has been impossible for two players to sit down and race through a Grand Prix cup with one another. Not only is a ranking system in a racer that sometimes relies on haphazard outcomes really irritating (In first place? How about a blue shell to ruin any chance of getting three stars?), but it apparently means that we can't play Grand Prix cups with friends and family members.

We can't help but reminisce about playing the various difficulties in Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart 64, and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! When one of us needed to pull ahead of a CPU player who was ahead in points, the other would do everything in their power to screw the AI over. We felt like there was an element that wasn't totally random in the Grand Prix cups with racing with another human, even if we were competing with each other.


Now, most Grand Prix races in more recent Mario Kart games are driven less by skill and more by "God, I hope I don't get reamed by three items in a row to totally mess me over." Not only does it make multiplayer races more enjoyable, but it makes those races really mean something.

- A better unlockable system than Mario Kart 7

Unlocking content in video games through completing certain tasks is seldom unexciting. It wasn't in Mario Kart 7, either. However, the way that one went about unlocking new kart parts to customize one's machine, a mechanic that will return in Mario Kart 8, was like shooting craps. Through collecting coins in Mario Kart 7, a maximum of ten each race, you eventually reached certain coin amounts that unlocked a random kart part. At the early goings, one must simply need to collect 100 coins to unlock a part, but as you continued on, the amount of coins between unlocks grows and grows. This means that getting parts that you're wanting can happen in a short time or a looooong time.

It's not as if one kart chassis, set of wheels, or glider is better than another. Each has their strengths and shortcomings. Really, the thing that interests most Mario Kart 7 players is finding kart parts that appeal to them visually. Some kart parts are cooler looking than others.


We'd like to see in Mario Kart 8 an improvement in how kart parts are unlocked. Perhaps a shop where you use coins to purchase a whole assortment of kart parts. You could choose what bodies, wheels, and gliders you wanted, so you wouldn't have to rely on luck to get the part you really want.

- The return of Mission Mode

Mario Kart DS introduced a mode that greatly lengthened the single-player content of the game. It was Mission Mode, a series of 56 individual timed missions that took place within Mario Kart DS' wide assortment of tracks and battle arenas. Such missions included collecting coins, racing through numbered gates, using items to defeat a set number of enemies, and battles against boss opponents. While Mario Kart Wii did offer online tournaments with challenges similar in concept to those of the DS version, these were delivered piecemeal to players.


The return of Mission Mode would make the offline experience of Mario Kart 8 tremendous, and it would throw in the type of challenges that would improve players' skills.

- Returning Characters

Nintendo picks and chooses characters to include each Mario Kart seemingly on its own whims. How can we ever forget the glaring omission of Waluigi in Mario Kart 7? (No worries-- Waluigi is indeed in Mario Kart 8.) However, seeing as Nintendo seems to be pulling out all stops to make this the ultimate Mario Kart experience, we think these characters from past games shouldn't be neglected!

Diddy Kong - Nintendo has shown no problem including elements of the Donkey Kong Country series into Mario's realm, so the inclusion of Diddy Kong, who has been in a plethora of Mario sports games, definitely seems like a great idea to continue his foray into competition.





Birdo - The Super Mario Bros. 2 (USA) darling was last seen in Mario Kart Wii. We really have no justification to bring Birdo back except for liking the character.






Bowser Jr. - Since his arrival to the Mario Kart series with the GameCube's Double Dash!!, Bowser Jr. has only been included in the roster of Mario Kart Wii. That grinds our gears, as Bowser Jr. is a character we really enjoy and would love to see return in his full glory in HD.




Dry Bowser - Not only is his design awesome, but we need more heavy characters in Mario Kart 8. His gigantic skull appearing in the Bone Dry Dunes leads us to believe he may be a shoo-in for Mario Kart 8's cast.





- New Characters

The big news from the Mario Kart 8 trailer shown yesterday was the addition of the seven Koopalings to the Mario Kart 8 roster. While we're very satisfied with their inclusion to the game's record-breaking amount of racers, we can't help but hope there's more new characters to the Mario Kart series than just the Koopalings. Here's our picks.

Boom Boom - Debuting in Super Mario Bros. 3, Boom Boom took a long hiatus from the spotlight afterwards. Perhaps he lived his life through the years as a Jersey shore fisherman, catching large amounts of fish to feed his family. Regardless, he's since appeared in a multitude of titles from New Super Mario Bros. U to Super Mario 3D Land and World. Another ideal pick for a heavyweight, Boom Boom would be an intriguing racer for Mario Kart 8.



Pom Pom - Although she hasn't appeared in as many games as her brother, nor has she been around anywhere near as long, Pom Pom is a fresh character from Super Mario 3D Land and Super Mario 3D World that is just adorable, has a great presence, and would make one of the few female heavyweight characters, assuming Rosalina retains your weight class from Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7.




Kamek - Kamek was originally going to be one of the eight racers of Mario Kart 64. He was later removed and replaced by Wario. Well, we think Kamek has waited long enough to have his debut in a Mario Kart game. Whether known by Kamek or just as Magikoopa, we would love nothing more than to see this character get the chance he was cheated out of so many years ago.




Dixie Kong - We were happy with the out of left field addition of Funky Kong to Mario Kart Wii's roster, but we can't help but think that Dixie Kong would have been a more interesting choice. She's no stranger to kart racing, as she did replace Banjo or Conker in the DS remake of Diddy Kong Racing. Plus, the character is just awesome and will be coming off what appears to be an excellent game in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze.



- Retro Tracks

Currently, there are seven confirmed Retro courses returning in Mario Kart 8. Three come from Mario Kart 7 (Music Park, DK Jungle, Piranha Plant Slide), one from Mario Kart Wii (Grumble Volcano), one from Mario Kart DS (Tick Tock Clock), one from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (Dry Dry Desert), and one from Mario Kart: Super Circuit (Mario Circuit).

That leaves nine unconfirmed Retro tracks, with Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64 not yet having a Retro course to represent those respective games. Here are some of the tracks from past games that we'd love to see and our reasoning as to why.

Daisy Hills (Mario Kart 7) - If past Mario Karts with Retro tracks are anything to go by (and if memory serves correctly), then the most recent entry of the series will have four Retro tracks representing it. The idyllic Netherlands-esque setting, ride through a countryside village, uphill climbs, goats, and fabulous hang gliding section over a lake while avoiding hot air balloons make for a great entry level track that is quite fun to race on.


Toad's Factory (Mario Kart Wii) - The final race of the Mushroom Cup in Mario Kart Wii, Toad's Factory is by far the most interesting of the first four races. It features plenty of hazards and gimmicks, such as conveyor belts, hydraulic stampers, tractors, mud, and more. We can imagine racing on the walls of the indoor sections of track.


Bowser Castle (Mario Kart DS) - This along with Double Dash's interpretation of Bowser Castle are the best versions of the Koopa King's home course that have yet to be included as Retro tracks. We love the DS incarnation because of its interesting gimmicks, such as the circular room with the spinning floor, the outside spinning cylinder that can make racers fall off, and the ending group of platforms that slide back and forth across the lava.


Shroom Ridge (Mario Kart DS) - We're fans of street racing tracks, and there's nothing better than a drive through the picturesque country that Shroom Ridge bestows upon players. Drifting through the wide curves of the track is ever so satisfying all the while watching out for traffic.



Sherbet Land (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!) - We've noticed an egregious lack of a snow/ice track in Mario Kart 8's footage so far. Now, while it stands to reason that of the four remaining courses that have yet to be shown, one of them could be snow-related. However, we'd still like to see Double Dash's Sherbet Land showcased. From its skating Shy Guys to its homestretch infested with Freezies, Sherbet Land is a provocative track that gives us a warm feeling despite its frozen complexion.



Wario Colosseum (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!) - Full of wild turns and a motocross-like design, Wario Colosseum has so many possibilities for anti-gravity sections. We can only imagine jetting across twisted track suspended in the sky, happily losing our collective lunches. We think Wario's Double Dash course would be a perfect candidate for a Mario Kart 8 Retro track.


Royal Raceway (Mario Kart 64) - The last of the raceway tracks from Mario Kart 64 that has yet to be used, Royal Raceway features a variety of banked and hairpin turns, perfect for making drifts on. The ramp that blasts racers to the other side of the body of water would be a great place for a hang glider segment, and by far our most wanted part of this retro wonder to come to life, driving around Peach's castle grounds.


Yoshi Valley (Mario Kart 64) - Probably the most requested Retro course from fans that comes from Mario Kart 64 is Yoshi Valley. It's a track that easily distinguishes itself from any other in Mario Kart history with its abundance of paths to take. Finding the correct path to shave off precious seconds from a racer's overall time is paramount for crossing that finish line first.



Vanilla Lake 1 (Super Mario Kart) - Not counting its inclusion in Super Circuit, as the concept and rules of Retro tracks hadn't been properly realized, Super Mario Kart's Vanilla Lake 1 is a simple circular track, covered in ice chips that break when a racer collides with them, stopping their progress completely. What makes us want to see Vanilla Lake 1 is to see how the development team of Mario Kart 8 would interpret and re-imagine this wintry track.


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What would you like to see in Mario Kart 8? We've just scratched the surface of the possibilities. Throw out your own ideas, desired tracks, and wanted characters in the comments below.

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