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 gimmick 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 cuts.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 Currently, ten amiibo figures are compatible with Mario Kart 8: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Kirby, Fox and Captain Falcon. 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, F-Zero, and Animal Crossing alongside extra Mario universe content.
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.
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.
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 in fact, you get a .25 net gain for using the Landship, you cannot turn lighter characters into speedsters without sacrificing a little ability.
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 was only seen in the "Women of Racing" ads in the game's version of Royal Raceway (and she wasn't even playable in this one).
Cap: 99999 VR is all you'll ever be allowed to get in online races and battles.
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.
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: 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.
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.
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 in certain jumps.
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: Mario, 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.
Mickey Mousing: Seen at 3 courses, Electrodrome, 3DS Music Park, and DS Tick-Tock Clock.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Scenery Porn: Everything. Is. Gorgeous. Seriously, go look at all the detail that was infused into classic tracks like N64's Royal Raceway; Peach's Castle got a massive architectural update (unfortunately, you can't visit it anymore).
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.
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 a much stronger jangling percussive bass on the second anti-gravity segment of electronic musical sheet road that drowns out the normal beat. Then, there's a really trippy take of that anti-gravity area on the following lap, where the soundtrack changes to a twinkling variant as racers pass over the same stretch of track with electronic musical waves and ripples, 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.
Under the Sea: Dolphin Shoals is mostly underwater. It's also the only course in the series where the starting line is underwater.
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-grav, 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.
On top of that, the same DLC that will have Link will also have an Excite Bike based course, as well as a F-Zero course.