I grew up with Nintendo, and I've never quite been able to shrug off my childhood obsession. To this day, Mario and various other Nintendo paraphernalia hold pride of place in my apartment, and my office. I don't play games as often as I used to, but Nintendo is still special to me, and my recent foray into Mario Kart 8 reminds me why.
Mario Kart is the sort of game Nintendo makes best. It's hugely fun. Highly addictive. And most importantly, it's best enjoyed with friends. A throwback to the glory days when gaming was truly social, fun, competitive…when two or more people actually played together…in the same room!
In the month or so since its release, I've convinced countless friends to crowd around a TV and play with me. I've watched guys normally disinterested in games put down their drink and swap it for a controller. Cynical at first, one by one they have fallen victim to the game's charm (or my taunts?), and within minutes they've mastered the controls and begun hurling red shells and other assorted comic weaponry in pursuit of victory.
Even seasoned gamers are powerless to resist. At a recent gaming night at Mighty Ape HQ, PCs, PS4s and Xbox Ones were abandoned and left for dead. No body wanted to play them. The mighty Wii U and Mario Kart reigned supreme. Poor Sony. Poor Microsoft. Nintendo is back and everyone wants to play.
Of course, Mario Kart 8 isn't really anything new. It's the 8th game in the series after all. But on the Wii U, in this next-gen environment, dominated by games that sell the “experience” with flashy graphics and hollywood story lines that are, when you think about it, not actually much “fun”…it's a breath of fresh air.
So, the moral of the story is this. Buy a Wii U. Buy it now. For Mario Kart alone. It's worth it. And with Bayonetta 2, Super Smash Brothers and Zelda still around the corner…there's hours of Wii U fun still to come!
(For a more objective, balanced and in depth analysis of the game, swing by Gamespot who awarded it 8/10 or IGN who awarded it 9/10. They do a better job than I ever could of describing the ins and outs of the game and why it's actually very good).