These new features might make ‘Mario Kart 8’ the best yet

There's finally a counter to the much-loathed Blue Shell.

 

Imad Khan

Internet Culture

Published May 1, 2014   Updated May 31, 2021, 9:35 am CDT

Send those blue shells to hell. Nintendo announced a whole slew of much-needed features for Mario Kart 8 yesterday, including the ability to share gameplay footage with friends, new items, and fully customizable competitive tournament modes.

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Every great race should be documented, and it seems Nintendo finally agrees. Mario Kart TV, Nintendo’s new video sharing platform, lets players record and share video with their friends. The game will be able to record races allowing players to edit video in game and upload content to Miiverse, Nintendo’s social hub for players’ personal avatars, or YouTube.

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It’s quite the departure for Nintendo. In the past, the company has paid little attention to the online space, especially when it comes to social interaction. Nintendo felt that the best places for social gaming was on the couch. With the these new features, it seems Nintendo wants to make Mario Kart the game the Internet’s going to be talking about.

Mario Kart 8 has also made improvements to its online gameplay. In the past, getting into an online game would take far too long with many instances of players being booted out of the lobby. There were also severe lag issues between the players screen and Nintendo’s servers. Races will now consist of 12 players instead of eight and will run much more seamlessly, according to Nintendo.

Players can now host their own online tournaments in which features such as speed, vehicles, and items can be customized. Yes, items can be customized. In tournament play, the host can turn off certain items such as Gold Stars or Blue Shells. This is ideal for competitive gamers that only want to compete in pure skills of driving. Before items would make it impossible to have a truly fair race. The hardest of the hardcore can now go at it.

Earlier this month we reported on Nintendo’s refusal to confirm whether voice chat would be included in Mario Kart 8. At the time, it seemed like an implicit admission that the feature wouldn’t be available. Fret no more, chatty Mario Kart fans. Nintendo has given in to the pressure, albeit with a catch. You won’t be using a headset to yell at your friends. Rather, all audio will go through the built in microphone on the gamepad. However, chatting is limited to lobbies. Sadly, you won’t be able to trash talk little Timmy mid race, but you can make fun of him before and after races.

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And then there are the infamous Blue Shells, the much-loathed item that enables players in the back of a race to knock out the first-place driver. The shells add some unpredictability to the game, sure, but they also make it seriously imbalanced, because there’s no counter.

Nintendo has finally introduced an item that can give the player some leverage. The Super Horn item blasts a huge sound wave, destroying anything in its path.

Finally, Nintendo confirmed new characters Baby Rosalina and Pink Gold Peach. Baby Rosalina is an infant version of the Galaxy Princess and acts as a lightweight character. Pink Gold Peach, similar to Metal Mario, is a heavier version of the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom.

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All of these features could make Mario Kart 8 the best in the series to date. Everything has received updates or improvements. With higher levels of customizability, more attention to balancing, and better online play, this could be the killer-app Nintendo has been hoping for.

Screengrab via Nintendo

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*First Published: May 1, 2014, 9:56 am CDT