Dear Nintendo: The Mario Kart 8 DLC We Really Want

Dear Nintendo,

Thank you for those two packs of downloadable content for Mario Kart 8. They were affordable and added in some great tracks. The new vehicle options were engaging and 200 cc mode might be at the pinnacle of crazy-but-fun nonsense. The new characters… well having Link, Isabelle, and the Villager was pretty cool. Overall, they were great add-ons and I hate to complain but…

It’s the internet and I have first-world problems.

While Mario Kart‘s DLC has been great so far, it has failed to address the game’s largest weaknesses. The game already boasted an impressive course list, with 16 great new tracks and 16 excellent remakes. Now, with 16 brand new courses, it is tough to argue against Mario Kart 8 having the best track selection in the series. That’s definitely a positive, but in ideal DLC we need…

A REAL Battle Mode

You know what Mario Kart 8 also has? The worst Battle Mode since it was introduced back in the original Mario Kart. The problem is simple: Mario Kart 8, for all its raceways, has no dedicated Battle Mode stages. Not one. That’s right, while Nintendo found time to 48 courses to support one of Mario Kart 8‘s modes, they made a grand total of zip to support the other. Instead they have left players to battle on regular raceways, courses that were not designed for that style of gameplay. While there is still some fun to be had, it has made Battle Mode feel largely crippled. Heck, if they’re out of ideas for new stages, might I make a simple suggestion of four pretty good ones?

Just off the top of my head, these would be excellent to play online.
Just off the top of my head, these would be excellent to play online.

So yeah, Nintendo – PLEASE add a real Battle Mode, I am willing to pay eight more dollars for it. I haven’t taken a poll but I feel that I am not the only one in this camp. Also, if I could make one critique of the character roster:

It is deceptively limited.

Many unique characters were scrapped in favor of "variations" of favorites.
Many unique characters were scrapped in favor of “variations” of favorites.

There are currently 36 characters available to choose from in Mario Kart 8. At first glance, that sounds like a ton! I mean who could want more when you can choose from Mario, Metal Mario, Baby Mario, Tanooki Mario… okay that’s a lot of Marios, but there is also Peach… and Pink Gold Peach… and Baby Peach… and Cat Peach…

Seeing a pattern?

For all Mario Kart 8‘s character selection, it really boils down to 26 characters, and seven of those are just Koopalings. So, that really means that the total of unique characters (who most people actually care about) is closer to 19. That is quite a drop from 36. Nintendo, if you’re in the mood for additional DLC, before you add “Fire Luigi,” please consider the following:

Birdo

Birdo appeared in the last two console Mario Karts, making her absence in this more noticeable.
Birdo appeared in the last two console Mario Karts, making her absence in this more noticeable.

Really, there are two forms for both Rosalina and Daisy, but no space could be found for pink female equivalent of Yoshi? Sure, Birdo is no longer particularly relevant to the series, but neither is Daisy… and was Waluigi ever?

Bowser Jr.

Bowser_Jr._NSMBW-1Nintendo, do you really mean to tell me that you had room for two incarnations of Bowser and seven Koopalings… but no love for Bowser Jr.? The kid has been around for the last few games, what happened? Did he offend someone during the making of Mario Kart 7? If he is good enough for Super Smash Bros., he should be included in Mario Kart 8.

Diddy Kong

Look at him, all excited. He doesn't know yet how much his hopes have been crushed.
Look at him, all excited. He doesn’t know yet how much his hopes have been crushed.

Or even Donkey Kong Jr., I don’t really care which, but there is enough room to let Donkey Kong have one sidekick. Toad has Toadette and again… do I need to mention how Waluigi is included in this game? Diddy Kong deserves more respect.

Boo

No, no victory celebrations for you. Now Boo learns what it is like to be truly dead and forgotten.
No, no victory celebrations for you. Now Boo learns what it is like to be truly dead and forgotten.

He doesn’t have to be royalty to belong back in Mario Kart. Boo is a unique villain and who doesn’t love the ghost chuckle that guy gives every time he passes someone. Bad enough they removed him from the game as a racer, did they have to take his power too?

E. Gadd

It would probably look cooler than this but good try, IGN.
It would probably look cooler than this but good try, IGN.

Bet you thought I was going to mention the piranha plant, right? Nope, Professor E. Gadd is a bit more deserving. Again, give Luigi (and his side characters) a bit more room to shine. Plus, E. Gadd totally seems like the insane genius who would invent a racing kart.

Captain Falcon

So close yet so far.
So close yet so far.

Seriously, there are already two F-Zero courses in the game and an F-Zero racer. What does Captain Falcon have to do for a roster spot? It is great to see Nintendo bringing in characters from outside series, but puzzling to watch as they skip the obvious choice… while acknowledging how well the two series work together.

So there you have it, Nintendo – humble suggestions for a fan (who is willing to pay to get these things). I think I speak for many people when I say: come on! What are you waiting for?

fry

 

P.S. – Also new powers would be pretty awesome. Two ideas: a Hook Shot power up (courtesy of Zelda) that allows the racer to shoot up to the person ahead of them and a Tom Nook coins/power steal (kind of like a variation of the old Boo power). Think about it.

Where's the Hype for Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8?

Another day, another article expressing disappoint in Nintendo.

Yesterday marked a special Nintendo Direct, one devoted to revealing details about one game and one game only: Super Smash Bros. (for Wii U and for 3DS… this game needs a better title). For thirty-nine minutes, Nintendo talked and for thirty-nine minutes, I listened. I cannot say it bored me to the point where I shut it off halfway through, but one thought was materializing in my head as I listened: I should be more excited than this. Not the first time I’ve had that thought during a Nintendo Direct. The one before the “special Smash Bros. edition” also didn’t catch my attention too much either. The focus of that one: Mario Kart 8. Hold on, Mario Kart? Smash Bros.? These two series are nothing short of awesome and arguably the best things coming out from Nintendo these days. I think both games will be great, I already own a Wii U, so why don’t I really care?

There is one than one reason but the main problem is this: too safe. My main reason for sticking with Nintendo, despite their numerous problems, is their creativity. I believe that this is a company that does not simply make games to make money. Call it naivety, call it romanticism, but I really do believe that most people who work at Nintendo are passionate gaming artists who like to make fantastic worlds never before seen (and impossible to exist in the real world). You know: people who are excited…. but these games don’t sound exciting.

Scratch that, Mario Kart 8 started out as a really cool idea. A racing game that allows players to break gravity to compete along the walls and ceilings? Suddenly all the courses change, all the options change: the game encounters a fundamental change. New and different, pushing the boundaries of gameplay: this is why I love Nintendo. But that wasn’t what they talked about last time Mario Kart 8 received a Nintendo Direct. Koopalings, and a late-May/early-June release date. Yay.

Oh man, I wasn't going to pay sixty bucks before but now: gotta have my koopalings.
Oh man, I wasn’t going to pay sixty bucks before but now: gotta have my koopalings.

This coming on the heels of an announcement made by the current Nintendo President, Satoru Iwata, that the Wii U would not experience any more periods of drought between big titles. Oh, good to know that I’m just imaging the three months between the release of Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8. Also, seriously koopalings? I say this as a longtime fan of both Mario and Mario Kart games: who cares? Yeah, each racer performs a little differently in Mario Kart, but more racers just sounds like “hey, why don’t know how else to separate this game soooooo you can play as even more obscure Mario villains! Remember Super Mario Bros. 3? Man, we were so cool back then!”

If Nintendo had chosen to focus on the new video recording feature in Mario Kart 8, the one that (I believe) let’s racers record their highlights and post them online to the Miiverse, now that sounds more interesting. The internet, that fad that Nintendo seems to believe will die out any day now, represents a gateway to a lot of interesting changes that they could be implementing into their games.

Let’s go to Smash Bros., a series that I really love. One of my favorite gaming announcements ever was the reveal of Solid Snake in the first Super Smash Bros. Brawl trailer. It represented such an insane new direction for the series: characters I would never have expected to be in a Smash Bros. game may now be in a Smash Bros. game… except that was it. Nintendo has never since matched that excitement with any Smash Bros. announcement that has occurred since then.

Sonic? Who cares, he is a dying figurehead of Sega. I guess it’s kinda cool, for nostalgic purposes. Even Mega Man, who hasn’t eroded his reputation the way Sonic has, has also faded from the current video game world. At the time that Brawl was announced, Sony was touting the new Metal Gear Solid game. It was like Nintendo had snatched away all of their thunder with one announcement: “yeah, cool you have a Solid Snake game but can he fight Mario in it?”

Boy, too bad Nintendo doesn't pretty much own Platinum Games. Imagine Bayonetta in Super Smash Bros.! Wait...
Boy, too bad Nintendo doesn’t pretty much own Platinum Games. Imagine Bayonetta in Super Smash Bros.! Wait…

The announcement rippled out past Nintendo circles to affect the industry. I guess this is the point I have been driving at: who, outside of Nintendo and their diehard fans, cares about all these new announcements?

Yesterday Nintendo revealed that Charizard and Greninja would be joining the Smash Bros. roster as new characters. Cool, more Pokémon… exept Charizard was already in Brawl and who really cares about Greninja? Take a good look at that Pokémon, doesn’t he remind you of someone?

All I could think of.
All I could think of.

Yeah, Ryu Hayabusa, of Ninja Gaiden fame,  might not have been quite as exciting as Snake, but his inclusion would have gotten a lot more people invested. Instead, Nintendo crafted a Smash Bros. reveal that left me thinking: “boy, there sure are a lot of Mario, Zelda, and Pokémon characters in this game, I wonder what series are selling best for Nintendo right now?”

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe people have looked at these past two Nintendo Directs and have been swayed into purchasing a Wii U. That is the point after all: to generate excitement (which equals dollars) for Nintendo’s struggling console. I just don’t think they’re really doing that.

Weekly Wrap-Up (Mar. 2-8): Oscars, Trailer Park Boys, Watch Dogs, Sanctions, and More

Here is the news recap from the past week:

1. The Oscars happened.

Yeah, really not much to report here. Gravity won a lot, 12 Years a Slave won the big one, rich and famous people celebrated themselves for being rich and famous, and the internet got to hear yet another rendition of “Let it Go“.

Haven't seen the movie yet but I'm sure it's deserved.
Haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m sure it’s deserved.

2. Netflix renews Trailer Park Boys for two more seasons.

I loved Trailer Park Boys. It was a great show (the lovely Ellen Page got noticed there). That being said: seven seasons, three movies and a Christmas Special were enough. The jokes have gotten a bit tired and those guys must be getting on in years. Two more seasons, Netflix? Yeah cause everyone just loved it when you brought Arrested Development back.

Fun fact: this show started in 2001.
Fun fact: this show started in 2001.

3. Watch Dogs finally gets a release date.

After being unveiled two years ago, Watch Dogs inches closer to reality. No word yet on when it comes out for the Wii U. Here’s hoping Ubisoft can match the hype they’ve created around this game.

Remember when everyone was hyped up to play Watch Dogs? Remember 2012?
Remember when everyone was hyped up to play Watch Dogs? Remember 2012?

4. Idris Elba to voice Shere Khan in Disney’s new live-action Jungle Book adaptation.

Idris Elba is a bad ass. In my opinion, this guy should be playing Lex Luthor in the upcoming Superman/Batman movie (sorry Social Network). There have already been a number of adaptations of this particular piece of Kipling. Time will tell if this version will be worth it.

Get ready for more cg tigers (Life of Pi needed company)
Get ready for more cg tigers (Life of Pi needed company)

5. Nintendo gets fancy with a “blue shell” edition of Mario Kart 8.

Maybe next they’ll make an edition of Wii U with adequate game support.

Perfect to throw at your friends while you're racing!
Perfect to throw at your friends while you’re racing!

6. Obama tours the United States to gain support for raising the Federal Minimum Wage.

The President embarks on yet another hard fought battle to do something that 99% of the population wants.

Seriously people, freaking Canada is beating us on this one. Are we going to let Canada beat us... outside of Olympic hockey?
Seriously people, freaking Canada is beating us on this one. Are we going to let Canada beat us… outside of Olympic hockey?

7. Russia – everyone is sanctioning that shit.

Again: still don't approve the use of children, even if it's an opinion I agree with.
Again: still don’t approve the use of children, even if it’s an opinion I agree with.