Mario Kart 8
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Mario Kart 8 is a racing game developed primarily by Nintendo EAD, with Namco Bandai Holdings assisting, for the Wii U. It is the eighth installment in the main Mario Kart series (hence the game's name) and, including the arcade games, the eleventh overall. This installment is the follow-up game to the Nintendo 3DS title Mario Kart 7. Like other Nintendo 3DS and Wii U games, this game can be purchased both physically at retail and digitally through the Nintendo eShop, with the digital version requiring 4949.8 MB (approx. 4.83 GB) of memory to be installed. The game was released on the last three days of May 2014 worldwide.
A prominent new addition is anti-gravity, allowing players to drive on almost any surface. Elements from Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7 are reused, such as 12-racer fields, Bikes and 2-Player online from Mario Kart Wii; and gliding, underwater driving, and kart customizing from Mario Kart 7. In addition, ATVs join the returning karts and bikes as a new class of vehicle. The game also features more detail in courses, specifically Retro Tracks, which appear more redesigned than their original appearances. The game is also the best selling title for the Wii U, selling 8 million copies as of September 30, 2016, surpassing sales of both Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
The gameplay maintains the traditional elements of previous Mario Kart games, mostly from the two recent installments on the Wii and Nintendo 3DS respectively. Players pick a character of three weight classes and drive vehicles of varying stats, strengths, and weaknesses around an obstacle course-like racetrack, in an attempt to finish first of the twelve racers, the number of racers used in Mario Kart Wii. During the race, racers can pick up items from Item Boxes, where the probability of receiving items is dependent on the racers' distance from the frontrunner; for example, first place typically receives defense items such as Bananas and Green Shells, while racers at intermediate distance from the lead receive more powerful offense items such as Triple Red Shells and Fire Flowers and racers far from the lead receive items that lead to an increase in speed or the possibility of going off-road without losing speed, such as the Super Star or Bullet Bill, to help compensate their distance. Players receive an amount of points depending on the position they end up with. Whichever player has the most amount of points wins the entire race.
Karts, which feature similar designs from Mario Kart 7, can be customized once again, alongside the returning bikes, which handle similar to the karts now and can only perform a wheelie via a boost, and the newly introduced ATVs. The hang-glider and underwater mechanics also return from Mario Kart 7, as well as Coins, with the player being able to collect up to ten in one race. Tricks and the ability to look behind also return in this game.
The newest feature for the series is anti-gravitational segments that not only allow for more dynamic track design, but also for racers to drive across walls, ceilings, and other seemingly unusual places. When in anti-gravity, if a racer bumps into another racer, the kart spins rather than just bumping and both racers receive a speed boost. This is called "spin boosting".
Inside drifting bikes from Mario Kart Wii return also in this game and, unlike all other vehicles, their drifting has the bikers leaning instead, which leads to them losing less speed, but having a lower turning capability with respect to karts and outside drifting bikes, the latter being a feature seen in Mario Kart Wii as well. Like in Mario Kart 7, the automatic drifting returns and is activated by steering in a direction for a certain amount of time, with a turning capability that, unless a Wii Remote without motion controls is used, matches the one while drifting (and even surpasses that in the case of inside drifting bikes) and the addition of the ability to slowly charge Mini-Turbo and Super Mini-Turbo boosts.
The game also features Wii U GamePad integration. In addition to the standard Off-TV Play, players also have the option of displaying the course map, and when neither the television gameplay nor the map are being displayed, the GamePad can be used as a horn button. Players have the option to toggle between these features at will. The GamePad can also be used to toggle on and off the gyroscopic steering, and in its default display and when displaying the map the GamePad also displays the current rankings.
There is also Miiverse integration, which allows players to share their replay videos and comment on others' videos, in a feature called Mario Kart TV. Another change is that in 2-player mode, the screen splits vertically instead of the horizontally in the other console Mario Kart games, a feature that was originally intended to be in Mario Kart 64 but was removed from the final game. Additionally, if the player falls off the edge of the track, Lakitu will pick them up and drop them back on to the track more quickly when compared to how he did this in past installments. This makes glitches involving falling into areas impossible.
Point management works similar to Mario Kart Wii, except that racers below 3rd place get an extra point. Below is a chart of the point spread comparison between these eight games:
There are various game modes for Mario Kart 8. All modes available on single player (some also on local and online multiplayer) are listed here.
Mario Kart 8's Grand Prix works similar to past installments. Like past games the 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc engine classes are available by default, and completing 150cc unlocks Mirror; for the former three, however, Grand Prix rankings carry over to the lower engine classes after being completed on a higher engine class. In addition, and for the first time in the series, a 200cc engine class has been added as of the version 4.0 update, which is available by default alongside Mirror as of version 4.1. Players choose a cup, which takes them through four consecutive races of set order in that cup. Only the Mushroom and Shell Cups (and the DLC cups) are available at the start of the game, with the others being unlocked after completing the cup before, and are available in every engine class after being unlocked. Players now have the option to do a multiplayer Grand Prix up to four players, unlike in most previous home console Mario Kart games, where only up to two players can race in Grand Prix.
Time Trial mode lets the player complete a selected course in the fastest time possible. Among the other features, in addition to viewing ghost data, players can upload their own ghost data onto Miiverse, which other players can download and comment on. In addition, beating one of Nintendo's Staff Ghosts in a race earns the player a stamp based on the course they raced on which they can use in Miiverse posts. Leaderboards as seen in Mario Kart Wii also return.
VS mode can be played locally with up to four players. Players can set rules like which items appear, the difficulty level of the CPUs, how many races, and Team or Solo racing. Players can also set how the courses appear, choose a course after one is finished, or play all tracks randomly or in order. In this game, Mirror Mode appears as a default engine class, even if it isn't unlocked in Grand Prix. The point system is the same as the Grand Prix.
Battle mode now features race tracks remixed to fit battle mode rather than containing all-new separate arenas. Balloon Battle can be played in teams or in free-for-all mode. It combines survival battle mode from Mario Kart DS and earlier installments and the timed points battle mode introduced in Mario Kart Wii; all players start with three points and three balloons each. Successfully making an opponent lose a balloon awards the player a point, and losing a balloon through any method will cause the player to lose a point. Balloons can never be regained (unless one is stolen from another player with a Mushroom or a Super Star), and if all balloons are lost, points can no longer be lost or gained. Defeated players can still drive and attack players as a Ghost, although they cannot receive points. Players can also now adjust the time limit from one to five minutes, and they can set up to 32 rounds in set intervals.
As with Mario Kart Wii, one or two local players can play over the Internet against other remote players. Players can race and battle with up to eleven other players from around the world or in their region, and can join and race with friends from the Friends menu. Finally, players are able to join a worldwide room using custom rules. Players can also set up their own rooms for friends and can race with custom rules, such as engine class, whether items are on or off, vehicle types available, control method, whether to play with computer players or not. As of version 3.0, players can also toggle whether they want to play on just the original 32 courses, the original courses and one of the two sets of DLC courses, or every available course by pressing after selecting Worldwide or Regional, as well as when setting up a room for friends. When playing online worldwide or regional, players once again earn VR points based upon their ranking at the end of a race or battle like in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7; like in Mario Kart 7 a player's VR starts at 1000, though like Mario Kart Wii players have different VR rankings for races and battles. Between 1000 and over 4000 VR when playing Worldwide or Regional VS. Race, players race at 100cc, and starting at over 5000 VR, players race at 150cc.
Players can also create their own tournaments, similar to the communities from Mario Kart 7. When creating a tournament, players can choose an icon and a name for their tournament as well as set the rules, including engine class, whether to play in teams or not, whether to have items or not, vehicle types, whether there are computer players or not, and, as of version 3.0, available courses (the original 32 courses, every course including DLC courses, just the DLC courses, or, as of version 4.0, the original courses and one of the DLC packs). Players can also set times in which the tournament is available (weekly, daily, or between a fixed period and at what day and time the tournament begins and ends), the number of races before scores are totaled, and whether the groups shuffle after every four matches or not. Finally, the availability can be set, including whether it is open or a code is required or it is open to anybody, whether it is open to anyone worldwide or just regional, and whether only players of certain ratings can play. When looking for a tournament, players can enter a code, search by type, or look at active tournaments. In addition, playing in a tournament that allows the DLC tracks to be selected requires purchasing the DLC before the player can enter.
After entering a room, players can choose one of three predetermined tracks or "Random", which chooses one of any of the game's tracks at random if the player's option is ultimately chosen (this is to prevent people from selecting the same course repeatedly). When playing with friends, however, players can select from any of the tracks available depending on the settings. Once every player has selected a track, a roulette selects one of these options as the track to be raced on.
Mario Kart TV
Mario Kart TV is an Internet-based feature in which players can view and share highlights of their and others' race and battle highlights. In the Mario Kart TV menu, the game automatically saves the twelve most recent race and battle replays, and the player can favorite up to six at one time. Players can view and edit theirs and others' replays by changing the duration of the replay and the focus characters and actions and can slow down, speed up, and rewind the replay while watching. Players can also share their highlights on Miiverse and YouTube; up to 60 seconds of video can be uploaded at one time, however.
There are 36 total playable characters in Mario Kart 8, consisting of 16 default characters, 14 unlockable characters, and 6 characters obtainable by purchasing the DLC packages. Including the add-on characters, there are 14 new playable characters, being the seven Koopalings (indicated by an * in the gallery), Baby Rosalina, Pink Gold Peach (indicated by an **), Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link, Villager, and Isabelle. Even though there are a total of nine groups of characters sharing the same statistics, the official site divides the inital 30 characters in three weight classes dependent on the weight of the character: light, medium, and heavy. Unlike other Mario Kart games (barring the use of glitches), multiple players can use the same characters, both in local and online play.
The add-on packs contain three new characters each (see here for more info), but if both are purchased, the player will gain access to eight new colors for Yoshi and Shy Guy as well. Updates have been released that allowed suits to be unlocked by using amiibo, which allow Miis to resemble characters such as Samus Aran and Sonic the Hedgehog.
* - Mario Kart debut
Included in the game's two downloadable content packs (The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8 and Animal Crossing × Mario Kart 8) are three additional racers, making six total. In addition, by purchasing both packs the player immediately obtains eight new colors for both Yoshi and Shy Guy. The Villager, included with the Animal Crossing pack, also has both a male and female variant.
Unlike previous Mario Kart games, characters (other than Mii) are unlocked at random by completing cups; however, another character cannot be unlocked by replaying a cup, making this title the first and only Mario Kart game that has done so. In previous games, fixed characters are unlocked by completing specific cups with specific engine classes. Additionally, for the first time in the series, unlockable characters appear as CPUs during races when they are still locked.
Mii is the only character not randomly unlocked and is instead always the eighth character unlocked, unless the player uses an amiibo to unlock a Mii costume, in which case it will be unlocked immediately. Miis will never appear as CPU players.
Other stats, known as hidden stats, exist, but are not visible in-game. These are:
The stats are shown out of 6, and the values obtainable with the various combinations range from 1.0 to 5.75. Just like in Mario Kart Wii, Miis can be Light, Medium, or Heavy, depending on their height and weight. Character icons are sorted by how they're ordered in-game.
The following tables report the stats obtained when using standard parts (Standard Kart, Standard Tires, Super Glider).
Body frame sizes
Depending on the character, the size of the vehicle can change. The size can influence the hitbox of the vehicle. The body frame size that the Mii uses depends on how tall or heavy the Mii is.
Mario Kart 8 uses a rival system that is similar to how its predecessor, Mario Kart 7 handles it, with several alterations. A set rival system is present only in the Grand Prix mode of the game; all other modes, including single player VS and battle are not affected and have randomized CPU opponents. Furthermore, only the original characters from the E3 build of the game receive a set system of rivals (Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Yoshi, Wario, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Koopa Troopa, Waluigi, Toad, and Toadette). The rest of the playable characters do not have a rival system of any sort, and all of their opponents in any modes are randomized. If there is more than one player participating in a Grand Prix, the first player's character determines whether there is a rival system or not, and what specific rivals the game gives the character. If other players choose the rival characters, the rivals are replaced by another, random character.
These characters appear as part of a crowd and world-building scenery and do not directly affect any participating racers.
Additional characters and elements on the tracks
These characters and features may either aid or act as obstacles and other intractable objects which impede racers if bumped into.
There are 22 karts, 6 outside drifting bikes, 5 inside drifting bikes, 4 ATVs (37 bodies in total), 21 sets of tires, and 14 gliders available to use in Mario Kart 8 for a grand total of 10,878 vehicle combinations. Of these, 8 karts, 1 outside drifting bike, 1 inside drifting bike, 1 ATV, 3 sets of tires, and 2 gliders are included in downloadable content packs, with the GLA, W 25 Silver Arrow, 300 SL Roadster, and GLA Tires appearing in the Mercedes-Benz × Mario Kart 8 pack, the Blue Falcon, B Dasher, Tanooki Kart, Master Cycle, Triforce Tires, and Hylian Kite appearing in the The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8 pack, and the Streetle, P-Wing, City Tripper, Bone Rattler, Leaf Tires, and Paper Glider appearing in the Animal Crossing × Mario Kart 8 pack. The parts are listed as they appear in-game, and the values indicate the differences between the given parts and the standard parts. It is impossible for a combination to have any stat less than 1 or greater than 5.75. The "8" logos on the parts are replaced with the character's symbol, except on the Gold Standard and Gold Glider.
Some parts can change colors either for every character, a specific group of characters, or based on a limited number of color schemes. The color schemes used by each Mii color serve as a default set of color schemes for each of the 12 colors which are also used by alternative Yoshi and Shy Guy colors as well as the Mii Racing Suits. All of them use the default color scheme for parts which have unique color schemes for only certain characters. The other characters may have personalized color schemes for their Standard bodies, Pipe Frame and Super Glider, and for the other parts, they may use other color schemes other than those of their expected color; for example, Mario's GLA is the gray one used by the yellow Miis instead of the red one used by the Miis wearing the racing suit based on him.
Vehicle parts are unlocked by collecting coins from Grand Prix, VS Mode, Time Trials, and online races. Coins collected by additional players are counted. Coins will count towards the player's coin total only for completed races -- if the player collects coins then quits during a race, the coins from that race won't be added to their coin total.
There are 38 unlockable parts, excluding golden parts. Players can unlock new parts for every 50 coins, but once players have collected 1000 coins, 100 coins are instead needed to unlock new parts. Like in Mario Kart 7, players can see how many coins they've collected by viewing the statistics screen from the main menu (this feature is available for only Ver. 2.0 and further of the game, however).
Special gold parts are unlocked with the following criteria:
There are 32 tracks in the main game (excluding DLC Cups); 16 new and 16 retro, featuring one track each from Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit, four tracks from Mario Kart 64, two each from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart Wii, and three each from Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart 7. As with the retro tracks from the 3DS installment, those in this game feature altered sections that incorporate the game's hang-glider, underwater, and anti-gravity features. The game features live-recorded music for all of the new tracks and most of the retro tracks. The tracks have been described as narrower compared to previous Mario Kart tracks, specifically those from Mario Kart Wii. Names in italics are names used in the PAL version.
Four additional cups, each one containing four tracks for a total of 16, are included in the game's two downloadable content packs. This makes Mario Kart 8 the most extensive installment in the Mario Kart series, containing up to 48 courses. Each of the DLC cups contain a mixture both nitro and retro courses, making them the first cups in the Mario Kart series to do so. Because of the imbalance of nitro and retro courses, this makes Mario Kart 8 the only installment in the series to include more nitro courses than retro courses, with 25 nitro courses and 23 retro courses. The inclusion of SNES Rainbow Road also makes Mario Kart 8 the only game in the series to have more than two Rainbow Road tracks. Of those 16 tracks, seven of those are retro courses, adding one track from Super Mario Kart, Mario Kart Wii, and Mario Kart 7 and two from Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. The other nine courses consist of four original tracks and five tracks based upon other Nintendo franchises, including Excitebike, F-Zero, The Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing. Additionally, while some of the courses have gliding and/or anti-gravity sections, none of them have any underwater sections. The back of the trophies earned in these cups reads "PROFESSIONAL KART RACING DISTINGUISHED DRIVER".
Unlike previous installments of the series, there are no stages unique to Battle Mode; instead, eight of the original 32 tracks (two nitro, six retro) in standard race modes are modified and used as stages for battles and can all be played from the start of the game, including those that are originally in cups that need to first be unlocked in the race modes. Tracks enabled for Battle mode are the following:
Just like in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, the player starts out with Staff Ghosts for each course that can be raced against in Time Trial mode. However, unlike with the past Mario Kart installments, beating the Staff Ghost for each of the game's standard courses unlocks a stamp that can be used in Miiverse posts, rather than an Expert Staff Ghost.
Kart of Champions
These are Nintendo's best times for each of the 32 base courses, as shown in the Prima Official Game Guide. Ghost data does not exist for the following times in-game.
As in all Mario Kart games, Mario Kart 8 keeps the use of items during the races. Four new items have been added to the list, being the Boomerang Flower, the Piranha Plant, the Super Horn, and the Crazy Eight. The Coin also makes a return as an item since its first appearance in Super Mario Kart.
Mario Kart 8 also features changes to the items' mechanics. In the races, each item's probability of being obtained depends on probability distributions that are chosen based mainly on the distance from the driver in 1st place. This means that it's possible to get even a Bullet Bill in second. While past Mario Kart games allowed the users to gain a different item from the Item Boxes while dragging some other such as a Green Shell or a Banana, in Mario Kart 8, players are restricted to carry only the item they are currently holding or dragging. Releasing the item in use will then allow the player to take another from the boxes. In order to keep gameplay balance, some items are much less frequent to appear, most notably Lightning and the Spiny Shell. Additionally, the Triple Bananas, the Triple Mushrooms and the eight items of the Crazy Eight surround the vehicle in the same manner as triple shells do, and opponents receive their effects when touching them, giving some disadvantage, or advantage in the case of the Triple Mushrooms and the Star. Racers only lose the items they are holding in their hand when struck by a Lightning while items surrounding the drivers, with the exception of the Mushrooms, are lost when other racers touch them. The item icon, located on the top left of the screen, now displays a usage-remaining meter, either time remaining to use or uses remaining, for items with limited repeating usage.
As in Super Mario 3D World, NES Remix, and NES Remix 2, players can obtain stamps to use in Miiverse posts. There are 100 stamps in the game: 28 are available from the start, while another 62 stamps can be obtained by winning a Grand Prix with every non-DLC character and beating the Staff Ghost on each non-DLC course in Time Trials. In addition, ten more stamps were added with the version 4.0 update. However, beating a Staff Ghost on a DLC course or using a DLC character to complete a Grand Prix will not unlock a stamp.
As of the version 2.0 update, Mario Kart 8, like New Super Mario Bros. 2, includes an in-game shop feature through which players can purchase and pre-order downloadable content packs, as well as adding prompts where the character and cup icons are when purchased. Alternatively, players can purchase content packs through the Nintendo eShop like normal. Nintendo has released free kart parts as part of a collaboration with Mercedes-Benz, and then announced the game will receive two add-on packs, which both include three additional characters, four karts, and eight courses in two cups.
Mercedes-Benz × Mario Kart 8
As part of a collaboration between Nintendo and Mercedes-Benz, a free downloadable content pack was released featuring kart bodies based on several Mercedes-Benz vehicles, including the GLA (based on the Mercedes-Benz GLA), the W 25 Silver Arrow (based on the W 25 Silver Arrow), and the 300 SL Roadster (based on the 300 SL Roadster), as well as a set of GLA Tires. The content was released in all regions during August 2014.
The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8
The first pack, titled "The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8", which was released during November 2014, includes Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, and Link from The Legend of Zelda franchise, as well as the Blue Falcon, the B Dasher and the Tanooki Kart as three of the four karts, as well as a new bike part called the Master Cycle. The cups included are the Triforce Cup and the Egg Cup. New courses include both retro ones, such as Wario's Gold Mine from Mario Kart Wii, new courses inspired by non-Mario franchises such as F-Zero and Excitebike, and completely new ones such as Dragon Driftway.
Purchasing both this and the Animal Crossing × Mario Kart 8 pack automatically gives the player eight alternate color skins for Yoshi and Shy Guy each.
Animal Crossing × Mario Kart 8
The second pack, titled "Animal Crossing × Mario Kart 8" which was released during April 2015, includes Villager and Isabelle from Animal Crossing: New Leaf as well as Dry Bowser. The cups included are the Crossing Cup and the Bell Cup. New courses include a new Animal Crossing: New Leaf-themed course and a new course: Wild Woods.
Purchasing both this and The Legend of Zelda × Mario Kart 8 pack unlocks eight color skins for both Yoshi and Shy Guy.
Note that in order to play online, players must have downloaded the most recent software update.
On the same day as the release of the Mercedes DLC, an update for the game also was released which adds an option to display the map on the TV screen (just like in past Mario Kart games) by pressing on the GamePad. A records section has been added to the main menu also by pressing , which shows how many total coins have been collected, online wins and losses (just like Mario Kart 7), and other statistics. The update also saves the players' last used vehicle combo (excluding DLC vehicle parts), lets them edit other players' highlight reels, and improves online stability.
Additionally, the maximum online race and battle ratings have increased from "9999" to "99999", like in Mario Kart 7. The rating system has also been altered in that the amount of points that the players win or lose after an online race or battle is more drastic if there's a large rating difference between participating players. In tournaments without race or battle limits, players can now have more than 1024 points during a tournament period; without the update, players with at least 1024 points have their score reset to zero for the next race/battle.
The speed values of the CPU racers has also been adjusted for tracks such as Dolphin Shoals. Also, animations of some characters, such as Daisy, Rosalina and Ludwig have been tweaked.
The update also swaps the 'Next Race/Round/View Results' and 'View Highlight Reel' buttons in offline mode, and adds a Shop button on the main menu, where players can purchase and download add-on content. The character icons on the map HUD are also altered.
On November 13, 2014, the update to version 3.0 was made available. The update includes compatibility with amiibo figures and enables the first downloadable content pack for those who purchased it. The update also allows the game to save any last used vehicle combo that uses any of the DLC vehicle parts or characters. Also, when a light racer bumps into a heavier one, it will be pushed less far away.
In terms of online, the race and battle rating system has been modified to be less punishing to players who do poorly in a race or battle. Additionally, players can now set up tournaments that have cup limitations. The update is required to continue playing online, but players cannot play in rooms or tournaments that include the downloadable tracks until they have purchased them. Players that have not purchased the add-on packs can still encounter the included characters and vehicles online, but cannot select them.
Update version 4.0 was released on April 23, 2015, the same day as the Animal Crossing × Mario Kart 8 downloadable content pack. In addition to the downloadable content and some bug fixes, the update adds nine additional amiibo racing suits and compatible figures, and adds a "200cc" engine class. Ten new Miiverse stamps have also been added. The update also allows players to enable the on-screen map using any controller, rather than just the GamePad.
In online mode, players can add CPU players when playing with custom rules, though only human players will count for scoring. Also, players who left a race/battle will not have their race/battle rating visible for other racers to see after a race/battle. The race rating and battle rating system remains the same as in update version 3.0. Finally, additional tournament settings have been added to support 200cc and the two cups in the second DLC pack.
200cc engine class
Introduced as part of the version 4.0 update, 200cc is an engine class that presents a few important differences with respect to the other engine classes.
Among the differences discovered so far, the most important are the speed, which is 150% the speed of the 150cc engine class (for comparison, the speed of the 50cc and 100cc engine classes are respectively 80% and 90% of the speed of the 150cc engine class) and causes acceleration to change every time the acceleration statistics changes, and a new braking technique, triggered only when braking while drifting: orange sparks come out of the driving wheels that start rotating at a low speed, a braking sound can be heard and the deceleration is slower, allowing tighter turns without necessarily losing the Mini-Turbo charge.
Furthermore, some physics exploits appear to be less effective. The angular velocity of autodrifting has been revised as well and furthermore only in this class it appears to be unaffected by drifting type (inside drifting or outside drifting) and coins.
Twenty-one of the tracks are also altered to accommodate for the different 200cc physics, such as modifying the boost value of the ramps with boost pads on them or locally increasing gravity in various areas including jumps or glider sections. The following is an alphabetized list of all racetracks that have different 200cc physics:
Update version 4.1 was released on May 1, 2015. In addition to general gameplay adjustments and bug fixes, the update adds the Mirror and 200cc engine classes to Grand Prix mode by default, without having to unlock them.
Differences in multiplayer modes
When playing in split screen, there are some minor and major differences on the race courses as in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart Wii. Most changes are removals and simplifications to maintain proper framerate.
Course specific differences
As of the version 3.0 update, Mario Kart 8 includes compatibility with amiibo, Nintendo's series of NFC enabled figurines. By scanning certain amiibo, players can unlock one of ten costumes for use by Miis based upon the amiibo character.
The amiibo originally compatible are Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, Peach, Donkey Kong, Link and Toon Link, Kirby, Captain Falcon, Samus, and Fox. Nine more suits were later added with the version 4.0 update, unlockable by using the compatible amiibo figures: Mega Man, Sonic, Villager, Pac-Man, Toad, Wario, Olimar, Rosalina, and Bowser.
Development for Mario Kart 8 started in 2012. Series producer Hideki Konno first revealed that he wanted to produce a Mario Kart game for the Wii U in late 2011. A Wii U Mario Kart game was later revealed to be in development in the January 2013 Nintendo Direct and confirmed to be shown off at E3 that year, with the game being officially revealed during the E3 2013 Nintendo Direct.
Some ideas that were scrapped in Mario Kart 8 included a drill that made drivers drive into subterranean depths. The idea was scrapped because the developers thought it was not as interesting as the anti-gravity idea. The anti-gravity concept stemmed from the Wii U being a powerful console, and with the upgraded hardware, the developers wanted to make courses with a 3D plane in mind rather than the 2D plane as the other tracks in the Mario Kart series. The title, Mario Kart 8, also stemmed from the anti-gravity mechanic as, in addition to being the eighth main installment in the series, the "8" used in the official logo was stylized to resemble a Möbius strip.
Promotion and advertising
Collaboration with Pennzoil
Nintendo and Pennzoil teamed up to promote Mario Kart 8 by hosting an event in which participants were able to race on real-life modified karts on a specially-designed track. Icons representing some of the items in the game were spread in the course as well.
Bonus/Free game promotion
Between May 30 and July 31, 2014, Club Nintendo members in North America, Europe, and Australia who registered Mario Kart 8 could receive a free download code for one of several Wii U games. In Europe and Australia, players had the choice of: Nintendo Land, New Super Mario Bros. U, Game & Wario, Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Sonic Lost World, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Wii Party U, The Wonderful 101, and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate while North American players were limited to only New Super Mario Bros. U, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD, Pikmin 3, and Wii Party U.
Mario Kart 8 has received mostly favorable reviews, and has been lauded as one of the best games in the series to date. General praise has been given to the game's graphics, the tracks, the music, and the overall gameplay (both single player and multiplayer). The addition of anti-gravity has also been praised, as has the online mode. The roster, however, notably the amount of baby and metal characters and the lack of previous racer veterans has received some criticism. The battle mode, however, has a universal negative reaction among reviewers, with most of reviewers preferring the traditional battle modes that previous Mario Kart games did rather than this iteration. The incorporation of the Wii U GamePad has also been a point of contention.
Mario Kart 8 won two awards at The Game Awards 2014, being the "Best Family Game" and the "Best Sports/Racing Game".
Over the weekend of its launch, Mario Kart 8 sold 1.2 million units worldwide, making it the fastest-selling Wii U title so far and the best selling title for the Wii U as well, selling approximately 2.82 million copies worldwide as of July 30, 2014. As of September 30, the game sold over 3.49 million copies worldwide. In January 2015, it was announced that over 1.7 million total copies (both physical and digital) had been sold in the United States alone, and by March sales had reached 1.9 million. As of March 31, 2015, the game has sold 5.11 million copies worldwide. By the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, sales have reached to 7.24 million. At September 30, 2016, Mario Kart 8 has reached 8 million sales, including digital, physical, and bundle sales.
References to other games
References in later games
Pre-release and unused content
Mario Kart 8 has featured several changes from earlier builds to the final build of the game. For example, Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7 mechanics were used as placeholders in the E3 2013 build of the game. Several small changes, such as Twisted Mansion originally being called "Boo House" and Toad Harbor's racing banner originally having a Galaxy Airline logo were present in earlier trailers of the game. Several of the music featured in earlier builds, such as Mario Circuit's music, was more synthesized than orchestrated in final build of the game.
An official soundtrack could be ordered by Club Nintendo members in Japan, Europe and Australia featuring 68 songs from the game, including those from the two DLC packs. Mario Kart 8 is the first game in the Mario Kart series in which none of the courses share background music; all previous installments in the series have had courses that used the same background music. As well, similar to Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario 3D World, the entire soundtrack for this game is live-recorded, including the songs that are electronic-sounding; previous games usually had their music already pre-programmed with only keyboards and synthesized/artificial sounds. A North American release is yet to be announced.
Spiny Shell Attacks Incorrect Racer
This glitch is most common in N64 Yoshi Valley due to the numerous paths drivers may follow, though it can happen under specific circumstances in other courses such as Bone-Dry Dunes. Occasionally when a Spiny Shell is deployed and the racers in at least first and second place are in a section where the road forks in two, the Spiny Shell may initially follow the racer in first place and then change its target to the one in second place or the highest place out of those in the other path. This is caused by some courses–in particular Yoshi Valley–having the checkpoint markers that determine the place of the racers being inadequately calibrated with the other routes. This is demonstrated by driving down the old bridge path while in first place: the player drops position while in the turn and then returns to first place once the paths join up again.
Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development developed Mario Kart 8 in cooperation with Bandai Namco Studios. Furthermore, an undisclosed number of 3D models for artwork illustrations have been made by Marza Animation Planet, a subsidiary of SEGA. The music composition is credited to Shiho Fujii, Atsuko Asahi, Ryo Nagamatsu, and Yasuaki Iwata, with longtime series composer Kenta Nagata serving as sound director with the music performed by the Mario Kart Band. Shigeru Miyamoto and Eiji Aonuma were the general producers, though the latter goes uncredited, and Satoru Iwata was the executive producer.
Names in other languages