"Mario kart 8" is a festive update to the popular video game series. It's fun and more satisfying than ever to sabotage its fellow players.

In "Mario kart" one must bear to lose. Luigi spots me from behind with a red shell just before I'll pass the goal, and instead, he stands as the victor. But in the next race I do the same thing to him. "Mario kart" is full of trickery. Some unpleasant and some elegant. Sure, I can imagine that the goal is to win a race, but really, "Mario kart" a sadistic study in schadenfreude. Revenge is sweet and sabotaging others are colossal fun.

"Mario kart 8" is the latest title in Nintendo's wildly popular racing series, and the first for a stationary platform since 2008. Resurgence is welcome. The formula is by now very recognizable. Here they go-kart race with Nintendo's most famous characters, from Mario and Peach to Donkey Kong and Wario. During the ride picks you up boxes that randomly distribute objects that either gives a personal bonus or briefly stopping opponents. Red skin is a cute variation of homing missiles while banana peels effectively get the driver to spin on the spot for a while. Among the new features is the carnivorous plant most fun, because it bites hold of everyone and everything within reach.

The further ahead in the race you are the worse the contents of the boxes, while the one who is last can summon lightning strikes that temporarily hurt all racing driver. This balance is accurate, which is exploited by the computer opponents that the harder levels is as shrewd as people angry.

The level design alternated between polished childish and spectacular flair, from the dinky cow pasture to the fire-breathing Bowser's castle. Courses from the previous games have this cleaned up and rebuilt, including Zero-G sections that make it possible to run both the ceilings and vertically to walls. It revives the old paths in an ingenious way.

The grounds are revamped, as are the graphics - which is brilliant - but the most noticeable improvement is still steering of the cars, which is smoother and more flexible.

This is "Mario kart" at it's best. It's incredibly fun to whiz through imaginative and slightly insane environments, while I try to exploit any gap that my teammates give me. But nothing is as joyous as playing against human competitors. Here, up to four people play on the same console, and up to twelve players online. An interesting detail is that one can post their most handsome race on Youtube, a smart update for "mario kart" series.

Less sensible is that balloon a race venues have been removed, those that is to avoid getting rid of their balloons and plot the other players. Arenas brought all drivers on a smaller area, leading to frantic entertaining matches. Here they Balloon Race on tracks that already exist in tournament mode. There is more space and I often drive in minutes without bumping into other cars. It feels crestfallen and gloomy.

But in most ways is "Mario kart 8" a lively and inventive update of the series, which is superior to its predecessors. It is not a restoration that will surprise, but it's festive and more satisfying than ever to sabotage their fellow players. The schadenfreude is the only true joy true exceptionally well in "Mario kart 8".

on 6/13/14


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