Disclaimer: I know theories in science are different from the colloquial definition of theory, it's just a fun title.
Mario Kart is one of those games that works as a perfect example of what many people love about Nintendo. While all the other companies are talking about how you can see rain droplets on their cars or the crazy detail they put into tires, Nintendo makes a silly racer that’s all about fun.
The latest iteration of this long-running racing franchise is titled Mario Kart 8 and takes inspiration from a Mobius strip for its gameplay, with tracks that twist and turn upon themselves and karts that can drive on the walls and ceiling as easily as they can the track. Anti-gravity isn’t just a superficial attraction, though, and serves to open up new alternate routes as well as a new feel for the handling while the kart is in this mode.
The first map I played was a simple Mobius strip design with very few alternate routes. Here the anti-gravity was just part of the map and was a perfect introduction to the player. Whenever it’s needed your kart will automatically morph into a hoverkart by turning its wheels sideways Back to the Future 2 style. While in this mode you want to keep away from other racers more so than usual since any contact will send you into a spin which is usually detrimental. It doesn’t slow you down as much as a banana peel but the momentary loss of control can be a killer.
Next I played a village map (unfortunately I didn’t have chance to write down the names) which included a plethora of alternate routes. My favorite alternate route used the anti-gravity feature to fly along a wall while the other racers continued below. Trolley cars with item boxes trailing behind them reminded me how this series is one of the masters of the risk and reward mechanic which helps keep each race unique.
Sadly I didn’t get too much time with the last track which was also the most stylized, taking place in a boo mansion. While watching another attendee play the level I noticed some underwater sections of the track as well as anti-gravity which had the racers traversing opposite walls which was a real treat to watch. Lastly I’ll mention that the gamepad functionality was impressive as it acted not only as a mini-map display but had touch buttons that would have been difficult to put on a controller otherwise. Being able to turn on and off the motion steering instantly in the middle of a race was also welcome surprise.
All in all Mario Kart 8 is looking like another fun entry to the series with a new gameplay mechanic that really changes the game, and for such a long-running series that’s probably the best fans can hope for. Look for more info about Mario Kart 8 as it nears its release in early 2014.