Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 is a rare thing: the best entry in its series and the most exciting installment yet.

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Digital FoundryMario Kart 8 Deluxe: a great console title is a handheld revelation

Switch's enhanced Wii U port works beautifully on the go.

Mario 8 Kart Deluxe is set for release on April 28th and we've been fortunate enough to have spent around a week with the game now - and it's an extremely impressive package. Graphical upgrades in terms of art assets are few and far between, but this release enhances one of Wii U's very best titles - easily one of the best-looking games on Nintendo's last machine. On top of that, a good amount of thought has gone into gameplay tweaks that subtly improve playability, and yes, there is additional 'content'.

VideoWatch: Seven games made better by DLC

It's this week's Eurogamer Show.

It's been a good week for people who enjoy half-cloaks and complicated bits of machinery, all things told. Star Wars Battlefront's new DLC let's you play as cape-sporting cloud man Lando Calrissian, whereas Fallout 4's Contraptions workshop DLC lets you tinker with all sorts of, well, contraptions.

Mario Kart 8 x Animal Crossing DLC review

Almost a year after it first launched, Mario Kart 8 has been expanded once again. This is the second slice of add-on content from a new kind of Nintendo - a company not ashamed to double down on its successes. The idea of add-ons for a Mario Kart game may still seem odd to some, but Mario Kart 8's Animal Crossing pack is the perfect example of how to do DLC right.

For those who previously bought into the discounted double DLC offer for this and the earlier Legend of Zelda pack, rest assured that these latest additions are more than worthy of the exquisite main experience. The add-on once again broadens Mario Kart 8's course roster with eight extra tracks, three new characters plus a sprinkling of new vehicles and vehicle parts.

The pack's centrepiece is its four-flavour Animal Crossing course, randomly themed each time you race in either spring, summer, autumn or winter variants - just as Animal Crossing's towns change with the seasons. Spring sees you race through showers of blossom, while fruit hangs from the track's trees during summer. Nab an orange or apple that has been knocked onto the track and you'll get a sneaky mushroom boost. Autumn adds falling leaves and piles of leaf litter hiding more power-ups, while winter's variant adorns the town with snowmen obstacles to avoid.

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I usually enjoy making fun of Tom's incredible passion for all things Nintendo, but gosh, this DLC looks absolutely gorgeous. It's heading to Mario Kart 8 next week (23rd April) and includes a bunch of new tracks that he seems to really like.

The new generation of consoles aren't so new now, at the end of 2014. In the past year they've become a familiar fixture in our living rooms and under our televisions: familiar, too, has become the endless dance of downloads, patches, system updates and slightly underwhelming experiences in what's been a low-key debut year for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We knew it'd be a slow start, but nevertheless there's disappointment in the lack of something truly new to latch on to once you look beyond the inflated resolutions.

Reader's top 50 games of 2014

What do you mean it's another 8?

Happy New Year to you! Having had a little time to recover, I hope your head's all fine and dandy - we're still druuuuuuuuuuuuunk, but that's pretty standard for a Friday morning.

Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack One review

How wonderful it is to have F-Zero back. There's plenty of fan service in the first DLC pack for Mario Kart 8, but none of it hits quite as hard as the once-forgotten series' slight return, its anti-grav track winding blissfully through Nintendo's hyper-clean vision of the future. The newly introduced race through Hyrule Castle might hit some high notes, sure, but we get to walk between these parapets every other year. The steel-blue metropolis of Mute City has been lost to home consoles for well over a decade.

The series lived on, of course, in Mario Kart 8's newfound passion for the vertiginous, and for the ludicrous twists and switchbacks that defined F-Zero 64 before they were cut brilliantly loose in F-Zero GX. That game's director, Toshihiro Nagoshi, once likened the design of its tracks to writing a song (something he perhaps picked up from his mentor Yu Suzuki, who designed the breezy sweep of OutRun's jaunt with the soundtrack always in mind) - and so GX's courses were full of dazzling solo stretches that hammered the player with searing twists before building up to climaxes of impossible speed.

Mario Kart 8's Mute City isn't quite the measure of the likes of GX's Intersection or Ordeal, but it's a neat deepening of the link between Nintendo's flagship series and one of its fading stars. Mute City contains explicit nods to F-Zero - boost pads are replaced by that distinctive yellow chevron, and coins are usurped by energy strips around the course - as well as that crunchy guitar theme, enlivened in Mario Kart 8 style by hyperactive brass punches.

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Amiibo unlock extra racing suits in Mario Kart 8

UPDATE: First DLC pack dated, Amiibo and new Zelda track gameplay shown off.

UPDATE 5/11/14 22:45pm: Nintendo has now confirmed Mario Kart 8's previously-leaked Amiibo details and given the game's first DLC pack a release date of 13th November.

Mario Kart 8 DLC trailer reveals a familiar retro track

Mario Kart 8 DLC trailer reveals a familiar retro track

UPDATE: Watch our exclusive Wii U vs. GameCube vs. DS track comparison.

UPDATE 22/10/14 1.15pm Watch how Nintendo has updated Yoshi Circuit for Mario Kart 8 in our new track comparison video, which shows off the Wii U version alongside its GameCube and DS predecessors:

ORIGINAL STORY 22/10/14 9.10pm Nintendo is resurrecting the much-loved Yoshi Circuit for Mario Kart 8's first add-on pack, due out next month.

The course originally appeared in GameCube entry Mario Kart: Double Dash - way back in 2003, just to make you feel old - but has been jazzed up with new visuals and a remixed score.

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Mario Kart 8 to receive the iconic B Dasher in DLC

Here's some video of it in action.

Mario Kart DS introduced an extremely swift hot rod called the B Dasher into the series, which was suspiciously absent in Mario Kart 8. Well worry no more as Nintendo confirmed via a Miiverse post that the B Dasher will be included in the Wii U racer's first batch of DLC.

Mario Kart 8 sells approximately 2m in under a month

Around 2m copies of Mario Kart 8 have been shifted within the game's first month on sale, Nintendo has confirmed.

That figure corresponds to around a third of the Wii U's 6.17m-strong userbase.

The sales data emerged overnight from comments made during Nintendo's AGM and has been subsequently confirmed by the company itself (thanks, IGN).

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Watch Dogs is the biggest new IP launch in the UK ever

Watch Dogs is the biggest new IP launch in the UK ever

Only GTA, FIFA, COD and Battlefield have ever sold more.

Watch Dogs has stormed to the top of the UK all-format charts and earned itself the biggest launch week of any new IP in the UK ever, beating previous record holder LA Noire's haul by more than half its sales again.

The open-world hackathon is Ubisoft's biggest ever game launch in the UK. Watch Dogs beat the publisher's previous peak for launch week sales - set in 2012 by Assassin's Creed 3 - by more than 17 per cent.

Overall, Watch Dogs is the 17th biggest game launch in the UK of all time. Only games from four established franchises - GTA, FIFA, Call of Duty and Battlefield - have ever sold more.

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VideoVideo: Mario Kart 8 live stream

60 minutes of gameplay, collector's edition giveaway. Starts 5pm BST.

Finally! After months of waiting, this week the next generation of consoles finally gets motoring with the arrival of the most hotly anticipated game of the past two years. Watch Dogs? What's that? I am of course referring to Mario Kart 8, the triumphant return of Nintendo's signature kart racing series.

Digital FoundryDigital Foundry vs Mario Kart 8

Mario & All-Stars Racing Refined.

If there's one Nintendo franchise that can be counted on to deliver the goods time and again, it's Mario Kart. As perhaps the most iterative of its hallowed franchises, each new instalment further refines the formula in ways typically reserved for competitive fighting games. In this regard Mario Kart 8 is no exception and presents, in many ways, the most radical departure the series has seen in more than a decade. Tracks now twist and turn about in a gravity-defying WipEout/F-Zero manner while visual complexity is on a whole new level compared to previous offerings. But has Nintendo retained that oh-so-perfect balance between sharp, colourful visuals and a smooth, consistent frame-rate? Failing to nail down this aspect of the game could seriously hurt the experience and tarnish a near-perfect track record.

Mario Kart 8 review

EssentialMario Kart 8 review

Lucky number eight.

It's been 22 years since Super Mario Kart and Nintendo's knockabout racing series has held its ground against the only critic whose opinion truly matters: time. Few other game series have been so dependable. Mario Kart has made a regular appearance on each successive piece of Nintendo hardware, always retaining the essence of that triumphant debut, always fending off the imitators following in its slipstream. It's been a journey defined by incremental improvements and amendments, never by reinvention: a new power-up here, an few extra characters there.

And yet Mario Kart 8 is a revelation. It's undiminished by familiarity. It may be furnished with recognisable props, faces, scenes and modes - but it's also the most vibrant home console racing game in years.

Start not with the screen - a window into the Mario multiverse that has never before loomed so large and vivid - but with the hands. Here, at the physical level, you begin to understand the connection this game establishes with its player. As well as managing the gas, brake and steering, your fingers and thumbs must also tap out curious rhythms as they squeeze you into a drift-boost corner - the longer you hold the drift trigger, the greater the boost you receive on release - and fire a trigger as you sail from the crest of a mound in order to perform a speed-boosting stunt.

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Buy Mario Kart 8 and get a free Wii U game

New characters, items, GamePad chat and fresh footage.

Buy a new copy of Mario Kart 8 and register the game via the Club Nintendo website (between 30th May and 31st July) and you'll be eligible for a free Wii U game download.

Gorgeous Mario Kart 8 retro tracks compared to originals

Plus, new weapons, characters and Mario Kart TV.

You probably knew this bit already, but Mario Kart 8 is looking like another polished racer from Nintendo. The game's visuals are beautiful, 1080p and 60fps even in two-player split-screen, while new characters and weapons such as the Piranha Plant keep things feeling fresh amongst otherwise familiar surroundings.

Mario Kart 8 release date announced

Mario Kart 8 release date announced

Plus all seven Koopalings playable for the first time.

Nintendo's finally put a date on Mario Kart 8, one of the Wii U's brightest prospects for the first half of 2014, with Nintendo's characterful racer due out on May 30th.

The news came during a Nintendo Direct detailing the Spring line-up for the Wii U and 3DS, where further details were given on the forthcoming Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze as well as Super Smash Bros. It was also revealed that all seven Koopalings will be playable for the first time in the series.

Mario Kart 8's the first home outing for the series since Mario Kart Wii, which was itself one of Nintendo's biggest hits of recent years. Can Mario Kart 8 have the same impact? From everything we've seen so far the game's at least looking like it will live up to the heritage of the Mario Kart name.

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The Christmas period often takes me back to games I haven't played for a while. All that travelling around, all those afternoons on family sofas, all those frosty mornings and ridiculous winter discounts on Steam and elsewhere - it's made for it. One game I didn't expect to end up playing in December, though, was Mario Kart Wii.

No date for Mario Kart 8, but a new trailer

No date for Mario Kart 8, but a new trailer

Rosalina's in it! On a super bike!

Rosalina, the princess from the Mario Galaxy games, is in Mario Kart 8 - and she races on a 'goes like the clappers' super bike!

A new video for the game was aired during a Nintendo Direct broadcast this afternoon. No specific release date past "spring 2014" was confirmed.

Mario Kart 8 will also have new 'baby' versions of Nintendo characters, new courses such as an airport and a desert high in the clouds. New vehicles include UFOs, four-wheel ATV buggies, bikes and standard karts.

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Mario Kart is one of the few Nintendo series where you can actively glimpse the series' history within each new entry. You can still buy digital copies of past classics via the eShop of course, but in each recent Mario Kart title the franchise's past is right there in the game, in the large range of returning retro tracks that complement each new roster.

Miyamoto unsure on F-Zero future

"I don't really have a good idea for what's new that we could bring."

Nintendo's top designer Shigeru Miyamoto has said he is unsure when we'll see a return for sci-fi racing series F-Zero.

Nintendo retreats into its shell at E3

The games are fun, of course - but you can't answer crisis with paralysis.

Nintendo's retreat from the very public PR war of the E3 press conferences turned out to be a more literal one than we might have thought. This morning in Los Angeles, the company replaced its traditional stage show first with its Nintendo Direct live stream and then by inviting press to its stand before the show floor opened to play six key Wii U titles and meet their creators.

Mario Kart 8 announced for Wii U

Mario Kart 8 announced for Wii U

But not due until spring 2014.

Nintendo has just announced the Wii U version of Mario Kart - it's called Mario Kart 8 and will launch in spring 2014.

The new edition's big feature is crazier tracks with sloped and vertical walls.

It's lucky, then, that your racing karts now come fitted with wheels which rotate around and stick to any surface.

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