It's not difficult to argue that the Mario Kart franchise has built up its kart-racing empire on the backs of gamers' endless nostalgia for the series. For many, this is a very large part of its success whether the point of entry was the original Super Nintendo title or the more recent Wii offering. This is hardly the extent of its reach though, as this nostalgia has always been founded upon tight core gameplay. The long overdue Mario Kart 8 looks to be no different as it aims to push the series forward while celebrating its history.
Like its predecessors, Mario Kart 8 will see numerous fan-favorite tracks making return appearances. In true Nintendo form, these classic tracks will be receiving not only a fresh coat of paint but some mechanical updates as well. With these changes though, there's always the possibility that some of the magic of old could be lost.
To quell these fears, Eurogamer put together a video comparing Mario Kart 8's updated versions of Moo Moo Meadows, Donut Plains 3 and the always-memorable Royal Raceway with their retro counterparts. Despite the footage being recorded by an off-screen camera, it's hard to deny just how beautiful Nintendo's newest kart-racer is. The Wii U manages to continually surprise with the often underutilized power it has under its hood and Mario Kart looks to take advantage.
Alongside the gorgeous visuals though, it's evident that there have been slight tweaks made to each of the highlighted tracks. From the addition of a raised ramp on the side of Moo Moo Meadows to the longer length of each track, the changes hardly seem to hurt the feeling of nostalgia each course presents. Rather, these little tweaks feel like seamless additions, building upon aspects of each track that could once have been limited by the hardware at the time and updating iconic features like the block boundaries in Donut Plains 3.
Coming hot off the heels of the recent Mario Kart 8 trailer, this comparison also gives a better look at the two new items: the mobile Piranha Plant and the Boomerang Flower. While the Boomerang Flower plays exactly as one would expect, the Piranha Plant looks to be a real on-road hazard. The Piranha Plant poses a threat to racers in front of the player, but its reach also extends to either side of the kart giving it what seems like 180° of mobility.
It's this adherence to the qualities that made past titles in the Mario Kart series endlessly entertaining combined with the courage to then tweak the series' beloved features that has all but ensured Mario Kart 8's spot as one of the biggest Wii U releases yet. With a host of new characters and gameplay that left us craving more, May can't come soon enough.
Mario Kart 8 is set to crash onto the Wii U on May 30, 2014.
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