Both Greg and I were able to play Mario Kart 8 today at E3, so we thought we would both share our first-impressions. (All below the trailer)
Going into E3, I was really excited about Mario Kart for Wii U. After playing it, I can still say that I am pretty excited. We were given the option to play with either the Wii Wheel or the GamePad. I never liked the Wii Wheel, and I ended up preferring using the analog sticks on the GamePad for controls. The newest feature was the antigravity hover mode on the karts and bikes, which made for a brand new experience, because it changed the way you move along the course. Gliding along is a bit tougher to control than a kart that has gripping tires. However, after getting one race under my belt, the next one was much easier. The two stages we raced were quite good. They mixed both normal track design and the antigravity spots. The glider is back again, and it seems it has been tweaked to allow for more control in the air (controlled with gyro), which is a good thing. Overall, the game looks great and plays great. The only unfortunate thing is that we have to wait until next Spring to own the game.
For me, Mario Kart U (now named Mario Kart 8) was my most anticipated title, especially being able to demo the game as well. It definitely held up to my high expectations of the game. I felt that the game controlled quite well with the GamePad, and I cannot say the same for the Wii wheel as I did not use it at all for Mario Kart Wii. The two triggers, ZL and ZR, are used for the firing of weapons and powersliding (respectively), and felt very natural choices and made it simple to control. It was nice to see the return of the bikes, gliders, underwater propeller, and what appeared to be customizable karts from the Wii and 7 versions. However, this demo seemed to lock particular types to characters, so it is unknown if the player will be able to select different karts or bikes at this time. While I haven’t gotten the timer down for the starting boost, the courses handled quite well and demonstrated the antigravity aspects. I don’t know how it will hold up in extended periods of play, as those types of camera views may make me feel ill though. It is a very nice addition to make the courses more exciting.
UPDATE from Steve
We played it again today at our booth tour, and this time, I was able to play through all three levels. The first was rather basic, the second was by a beach, and the third was in a Boo house. The best level was that Boo level. It combined the underwater elements, the glider, and the hovercraft all in one. Sometimes, this got tough to judge which way was up, but that just added to the fun. We also found out that the indicator for going into and coming out of antigravity mode is a blue ramp. That definitely makes it easier. We also found out that it will support up to four players local. There will be no fifth player, due to the GamePad screen not being used as a play screen. Instead, it is used as a HUD (or us that a Heads Down Display?). That’s a bit unfortunate, but maybe it will change before launching next year. Either way… I said it yesterday, and I’ll say it again. I’m excited about this game!
Mario Kart 8 will release on Wii U in Spring 2013.