During gameplay, handling is more responsive than in previous Mario Kart games, but we still found ourselves tilting our Wii remote a little too eagerly and stuck against a fence in Moo Moo Meadows or plummeting off the edges of Mushroom Gorge.
While handling has been improved, those used to playing Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7 might find the game takes a while to get used to. The back button is now used for drifting around corners, for example, so to fire items you instead use the Wii U's directional controls. This can prove tricky if you're protecting yourself with a shell or banana, for example, as it's extremely tricky to then throw that item forward to knock out the person overtaking you. The new anti-gravity mode, which enables you to drive along walls and upside down, takes a while to get used to, too - but it adds a whole new dimension to the game. And no, it didn't make us feel uneasy.
Of course, the most important aspect of Mario Kart is multiplayer mode. Four-player split-screen action scales well and looks crisp, although everything is a little bit smoother and looks more gorgeous when just two of you are battling it out.
We have one major criticism with multiplayer mode - it's extremely hard to compete. While previous titles had fans muttering, "You don't want to find yourself in first place on the last lap", due to the chaos likely to ensue, if you find yourself leading the race on the first lap, you'll likely win. During our four-player multiplayer sessions, we often found tournaments felt flat and a little boring, with the same person - perhaps due to their experience in drifting around corners, which is a major bonus on Mario Kart 8 - winning, boastfully, every time.
Of course, multiplayer gameplay is still good fun, and maybe it's our lack of experience holding us back, but we're hoping this imbalance is something Nintendo fixes in a future software update, along with issues in Team mode, which now sees items attacking teammates, rather than just those on the opposing team.
Another not so great feature in Mario Kart 8 is Battle Mode. Coin battles are gone, and balloon battles are now held on standard courses, rather than spacious arenas with plenty of room to manoeuvre and attack. This means that we often found ourselves driving around the track without seeing a single challenge, which takes the speed and competitiveness out of the gameplay.
Sure, it's got its glitches, but Mario Kart 8 is the Wii U’s finest hour, and fans of the series that don't already own a Wii U should probably go out and buy one, pronto.
Many of the issues we've highlighted likely will be fixed in a future update from Nintendo, and while frustrating at times, they haven't stopped us from playing the game for hours on end. Which we likely will do for the next six years or more. µ
Looks gorgeous, endless fun, course line-up is great, handling has been improved.
Balance issues when playing multiplayer.