The eighth installment in the Mario Kart
console series, only available on the Wii U
It is the first game in the series to feature HD graphics, as well as the first one to have orchestrated music. The main gameplay concept of this installment is anti-gravity
, which allows racers to drive on walls or even upside-down.
Notable for reconciling unforgiving game elements that recurred throughout the series, such as having Lakitu immediately rescue drivers who have gone off course like he once did Mario Kart Super Circuit
without going through a place-costing Fade to Black
first, less stipulations on getting star ranks, and several new power-ups, most notably the mighty Super Horn, a counter to the nemesis of all pole position holders, the Spiny Shell. However, racers can't hoard items anymore, and must use their current item before getting another one. Also notable for its inception of Slow Motion
The game has amiibo
functionality, compatible with several figures for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U
that unlock alternate Mii costumes.note
The game was also the first Mario Kart
to have paid Downloadable Content
in the form of two packs featuring tracks, characters, and vehicle parts from The Legend of Zelda
, Excite Bike
, and Animal Crossing
alongside extra Mario
This video game contains examples of:
- Always Night: The remake of the N64 Rainbow Road which takes place in the night sky of a city (the original was set in space). The remake of SNES Rainbow Road from the DLC Triforce Cup also counts, appearing to float above a field with rainbow-colored hills and scattered Toad houses. There's also Toad's Turnpike, Twisted Mansion, the Electrodrome, and Bowser's Castle.
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: All three Rainbow Road tracks (New, N64, and SNES) along with Electrodrome with all of the flashy colors.
- And Your Reward Is Clothes: The Palette Swaps for Yoshi and Shy Guy, obtained by purchasing both DLC packs. The amiibo bonus costumes for your Mii, as well.
- Anti-Frustration Features:
- Finishing a Grand Prix in higher engine class now also counts as finishing the same cup in lower engine classes, awarding you the appropriate trophy and stars for all of them. No more wasting time completing Grand Prix again in 50cc and 100cc just for 100% Completion! Mirror Mode does not count, however, so you still have to go through that separately.
- Usually, you cannot collect an item if you already have one, but if you collect an item box just before a Piranha Plant item runs out, you still get the new item. When you throw a boomerang, it doesn't count as having the item while it's in the air, so another item can be collected in its place.
- Anti-Grinding: The amount of VR you obtain in online races is directly affected by how much the others racers have. If you have less than theirs, you'll obtain far more points even if you didn't finish in first place, though the reverse can also happen, forcing you to look for others with a large amount of VR.
- Arc Symbol: The track maps often feature the number "8" somehow. The version of Mario Circuit for that game and Toad's Turnpike are shaped like an 8, and 8's Rainbow Road, N64 Yoshi's Valley, and the returning N64 Rainbow Road all have 8's in their design.
- Art Evolution: Mario Kart 8 is the first HD game in the series, and it shows. The courses in this game feature far more detail than the ones in previous installments. This includes the retro tracks, which get total graphical revamps.
- Ascended Meme: Waluigi's description in the official Prima guide is "It's always Waluigi time."
- Astral Finale: The new Rainbow Road takes place in and around a space station.
- Awesome but Impractical: There are only a handful of car parts that improve the Speed stat, but they all have a likewise net loss in the rest of the stats:
- The Slim tires increase Speed and decrease Acceleration by .25 each. However, Traction goes down by .5 for a .25 increase in Handling, for a .25 loss in stats.
- The Metal and Gold tires increase Weight and decrease Acceleration by .5 each, while Traction takes a .5 hit for a .25 buff in Speed, for another .25 loss in stats.
- The Circuit Special and its reskins, as well as the Slick tires, all have the same attributes; they increase Weight and decrease Acceleration by .25 each, while Traction takes a whole 1.0 loss for a .5 buff in Speed, for a .5 loss in stats.
- Meaning that while it's possible to perfectly balance heavier characters to match the acceleration and handling of lighter onesnote , you cannot turn lighter characters into speedsters without sacrificing a little ability.
- Batman Can Breathe in Space:
- The background Toads on Rainbow Road need spacesuits, but the racers don't.
- There are Toads wearing scuba gear in the underwater sections of Dolphin Shoals, while the racers, including Toad, get along just fine.
- Battle Boomerang: The Boomerang Flower appears as an item, which allows players to throw up to three boomerangs when they get it.
- Biker Babe: With the return of bikes (and the introduction of ATVs), Peach, Daisy, and Rosalina get alternate biker suits.
- The Bus Came Back: For the babies, Toadette, and Waluigi, who were excluded from 7. Dry Bowser returns in the May 2015 DLC.
- The Cameo:
- A Blue and Yellow Toad appear as the poster characters for the Two-player Online feature (and can sometimes be seen floating in space in the online play menus, along with a Green Toad). They previously appeared in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario 3D Land.
- Birdo, who is only seen in the "Women of Racing" ads in the game's version of Royal Raceway (and she isn't even playable in this one).
- The classic F-Zero characters, including Captain Falcon, appear on electronic billboards scattered throughout Mute City.
- Cap: 99999 VR is all you'll ever be allowed to get in online races and battles.
- Crossover: The first two batches of DLC include Link, the Blue Falcon, the Villager, Isabelle, and new tracks based on the series they come from.
- Cyberpunk Is Techno: Electrodrome's music. It's pretty upbeat though.
- Death Glare: When two characters pass each other, they'll stare for a brief moment. This can have an unsettling effect with certain characters, such as Luigi or Yoshi.
- Demoted to Extra: Several:
- Dry Bones becomes a course hazard in Bone-Dry Dunes.
- Dry Bowser becomes a Desert Skull (but the May 2015 DLC promotes him back to playable).
- Paratroopa becomes an audience member.
- Wiggler is only available as an ATV.
- Desert Skull: Dry Bowser's skull is seen in Bone-Dry Dunes.
- Difficult but Awesome: Naturally, using Circuit Special and Slick tires together on the heaviest characters results in nearly-maxed Speed with a hefty Weight stat to mow through race tracks and opponents. Unfortunately, you'd better have a good grip on drifting turns and avoiding items if you don't want your horribly-slammed Acceleration, Handling and Traction to get in the way.
- Downloadable Content:
- Mario Kart 8 features, of all things, downloadable Mercedes Benz karts. They're free and were released on August 27th, 2014.
- Releasing November 2014 and May 2015 are two add-on packs, which include retro courses such as Wario's Gold Mine, new courses and karts based off of The Legend of Zelda, F-Zero,Animal Crossing, and Excitebike; and characters including Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link from The Legend of Zelda, Villager and Isabelle from Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Dry Bowser. Eight different-colored Yoshis and Shy Guys are included with purchase of both packs.
- Dramatic Disappearing Display: The rank display in the HUD disappears when on the last stretch of a track on its final lap, increasing suspense for close finishes.
- Easter Egg:
- Totaka's song can be (barely) heard on any track with Yoshi spectators. By removing the BGM and driving up next to one random Yoshi, you may be able to hear it humming the song.
- If you don't have an item, you can tap the horn on the Wii U gamepad to honk it. The only known thing it does is spook nearby drivers.
- Some courses, such as Water Park and GCN Yoshi Circuit, have a map posted on billboards within the course. These maps are exactly the same as the minimap found on the Gamepad screen and the TV.
- Everybody Owns A Ford: The Mercedes-Benz DLC trailer, though only one of the three models is contemporary.
- Fanservice: Of the non-sexual variety.
- In the DLC track Hyrule Circuit, the coins have been replaced with rupees, the item roulette plays the music when opening a chest in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and when you hit all the crystals inside the castle and reveal a shortcut, it plays the "secret revealed" fanfare from the Zelda games.
- In the DLC track Mute City, the race intro jingle and victory results music are replaced with the corresponding music from the original F-Zero game, and there are no coins to be found on the track. Instead, there are energy strips like the ones in F-Zero that refill your coins, complete with the recharge sound effect from F-Zero X.
- Friendly Fire: In team-based gameplay, after being averted in Mario Kart Wii, items can now be used to attack drivers on the same team. The only exception to this is the Lightning Bolt, which only strikes everyone on the team opposite of the user's.
- Gimmick Level:
- Mario Circuit, the only stage in the game that makes you go twice around the course in one lap, once normally and then upside-down.
- The GBA Mario Circuit also gets this treatment. The original Super Circuit track was totally flat, but now there's giant Ultra Hands installed underneath a whole section of the track just to spice things up with an anti-gravity segment, amid some oil patches, for good measure.
- The DLC introduces the Mute City track, which is the only track in the game to be completely done in anti-gravity.
- Also from the DLC is Excitebike Arena, which features a track layout that changes every time you play it.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Now go karting with the Koopalings in addition, since they became playable for the first time in a Mario game.
- Gravity Screw: A major selling point of the game as well as the first time anti-gravity is used in the series.
- Guest Fighter: Isabelle and Villager from Animal Crossing, Link from The Legend of Zelda, and the Blue Falcon from F-Zero in the paid DLC packs. Also the promotional Mercedes-Benz karts which are downloadable for free.
- Hammerspace: Whenever Link does a boost jump or trick, he somehow produces his sword and raises it. He can also produce the Triforce when performing a trick off of an anti-gravity ramp.
- Hitbox Dissonance: Unlike in previous games, Mario Kart 8 had some bugs in regards to boosting near map objects that previous games didn't have. The effects of this dissonance can vary depending on the object/wall, but it's quite common to either come to a complete stop (boosting by a ramp's side or brushing up besides a wall) or ricochet 90 degrees (boosting by a pipe's side) into a nearby ocean.
- Joke Item: The Teddy Buggy ATV. It has no stat values whatsoever.
- Kid-Appeal Character: 14 out of 30 characters are this trope. They are Toad, Toadette, all five babies, and all seven Koopalings, so this nearly is the kid-appeal half of the playable roster. Baby Rosalina is introduced in this game.
- Large Ham: Several characters, but most notably is Mario himself, who screams the title and sounds like he is on helium during gameplay.
- Last Lousy Point: In Grand Prix mode, getting triple stars in some of the faster classes and Mirror Mode can border on insanity when the computer decides to hate your guts. It's quite common for many players to have their triple star runs ended in-progress due to either:
- CPU item spam when you don't have any items or just Coins in first place.
- Not getting any helpful items while the CPU in first place speeds to the finish and the other CPU don't get anything good to slow the lead CPU down.
- Getting knocked off the track by CPU attacks, track hazards, or CPU shoving allowing other CPU to pass ahead to the finish.
- Level Ate: Sweet Sweet Canyon is made of cakes, doughnuts, candy, and other treats.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition, which came with a figurine of the infamous Spiny Shell. It was a Nintendo Store exclusive in North America but was more widely available in the rest of the English-speaking world, who also got some other little trinkets depending on where the package was ordered from such as key rings or a Bullet Bill shirt.
- Mickey Mousing: Several elements move in time to the music, such as the stereo on the Badwagon and the Super Horn item. In addition, a few courses do this as well:
- At Electrodrome, objects like the disco balls, Piranha Plants, and stars to the side move with the music.
- At 3DS Music Park, the instruments in the background move with the music, as well as the metronome and Bouncing Notes towards the end of the track.
- At DS Tick-Tock Clock, the several gears in the background all move along to the music.
- In the DLC track SNES Rainbow Road, the hills in the background change color in time with the music.
- Musical Nod: The music of Dragon Driftway seems to take a few cues from Super Mario Land's Chai Kingdom.
- My Future Self and Me: The baby characters, who are the past selves of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy and Rosalina.
- Mythology Gag:
- Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road appeared in F-Zero X and was remade for Mario Kart 8. Blue Falcon from the F-Zero series appeared in Mario Kart Wii and returns to 8 as a kart along with a F-Zero themed track.
- Several of Tanooki Mario's tricks are references to Super Mario 3D Land: in particular, one of them◊ is a reference to his artwork◊ (which is in turn based on an artwork of Raccoon Mario◊ from Super Mario Bros. 3), and his anti-gravity trick sees him transform into a statue◊.
- Sunshine Airport features a Koopa-shaped island during the final gliding section, similar to Mario Kart 64's Koopa Troopa Beach.
- The Snowmen in Sherbet Land are now given blue caps and orange scarves, resembling not only the enemies in previous Mario Kart titles but also a similar group of Snowmen in Paper Mario 64.
- The eight different Shy Guy colors were available in Download Play for Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart 7, but they can now be accessed as a bonus for purchasing both DLC packs from the store.
- Bikes can no longer wheelie.
- Players can only hold one item at a time.
- Bob-ombs take longer to explode.
- Obvious Rule Patch: Bikes in this game were changed slightly by not allowing the player to pop a wheelie for boosts of speed, which now makes bikes more on par with karts. Bikes in Mario Kart Wii trumped karts so much that it was impossible to find any time trial record that wasn't a bike user and online play was also mostly a bike user game.
- Palette Swap: People who pre-ordered both DLC packs can pick eight different colors of Yoshi and Shy Guy.
- Product Placement:
- The free Mercedes-Benz DLC karts. A tournament by Mercedes-Benz can be accessed in online play for those that want to compete with the new karts. It's part of a cross promotion where Mario is used in a Mercedes-Benz GLA Class commercial in Japan and Nintendo has the GLA Class available as a free kart.
- As with series tradition, ads for in-universe products are scattered around the game. Alongside the usual billboards in the tracksides... this time, there's also sponsor logos on some of the karts (like the Circuit Special) and at the end of the credits!
- Promoted to Playable: This is the first game in the Mario series to feature the Koopalings as playable characters.
- Ribcage Ridge: Bone-Dry Dunes has one which acts as an anti-gravity section.
- Shifting Sand Land:
- Bone-Dry Dunes, complete with rivers of sand and even sand fountains.
- Dry Dry Desert from Double Dash!! returns as a retro track. It's a bit less dry this time around, now featuring an oasis which acts as an underwater section.
- Shout-Out: The DLC track Mute City has billboards of Captain Falcon saying "Show me your moves!"
- Space Zone: Special Cup's Rainbow Road is set in and around a space station.
- Stealth Pun: In Sweet Sweet Canyon, there are bottles of soda spraying liquid. They're soda fountains.
- Title Scream: Mario delivers this as hammy as possible. Luigi does,too.
- Under the Sea: Dolphin Shoals is mostly underwater. It's also the only course in the series where the starting line is underwater.
- Unexpected Character:
- The villager and Isabelle aren't too hard to believe to be DLC characters in a Mario Kart game despite being from a game series completely separate from the Mario franchise, but Link, a character from a game series where the most advanced technology so far is trains, being in a game with modern vehicles that have anti-gravity, is something nearly no one saw coming.
- Before that, no one expected Nintendo would do a cross promotion with Mercedes-Benz and have karts based on Mercedes-Benz vehicles available as DLC. Seeing Mario driving a shrunken SUV is just plain bizarre.
- Variable Mix:
- The menu music gains more layers based on how close you are to picking everything needed to have an actual race.
- The music in races warps when certain power-ups, such as the lightning bolt, are used.
- The percussion of the course's song gets deeper if the player is in the lead. Unless you're playing on 50CC.
- Shy Guy Falls adds the sounds of mining equipment and chanting Shy Guys when near the mines. The DLC remake of Wario's Gold Mine also adds these effects in the mine's entrance.
- Water Park's music becomes calmer during the underwater sections.
- Dolphin Shoals has three variations. Calmer versions play in the starting zone and cave, while the land section at the end features a more upbeat variant with a saxophone melody. Averted on the final lap, which only features the saxophone version.
- Cloudtop Cruise has an epic, orchestrated, and trumpeting airy beat as its main theme, but then changes to a gritty rock guitar mix inside the more tension-filled thundercloud section of the racetrack.
- Electrodrome, being a music-themed track, is built on medley magic. Its already pulse-pounding musical beat is accompanied by electronic riffs on the first anti-gravity segment as the player drifts across the interactive track. Then, there's a really trippy take of an anti-gravity area where the soundtrack changes to a twinkling variant, and even has several shimmering rectangular sparkles stimulating stronger beats popping up on the screen. Plus, the track itself sounds off some musical stings increasing in key as the player hops across several staggered platforms which light up. There's the aforementioned first place variant, the final lap variant, and, then there are versions for the normal and final laps of the crowds clapping in tune to the music, with Shy Guys chanting along, too.
- Mount Wario's music gets more intense as you make your way down, eventually becoming a triumphant fanfare during the final lap.
- Music Park still has you drive over various instruments, which will create the appropriate sounds in harmony with the music.
- Vocal Evolution: Thanks to new recordings, all the characters sound fresher and newer. Some voices in particular are much higher-pitched and louder, such as Mario, Yoshi, and Rosalina.
- Wacky Racing: It's a kart racer with weapons like shells and banana peels. Naturally, it would fall under this.
- Wutai: Dragon Driftway, a DLC course with a Chinese motif.