Mario Kart 8, aka “Mario Kart U” by some fans, is revving its engines to appear on the Wii U, the first time in five years Nintendo’s go-karting franchise has had a new iteration on one of its home consoles. Other franchises have tried to succeed in the genre, but they’re invariably compared to Mario Kart, often unfavorably, because the Nintendo series has ruled the roost since it started the karting phenomenon decades ago.
Mario Kart 8, like the karting games before it, is rife with Nintendo-based drivers that can drive over weapons scattered along the race track to aid their dash to the finish line. This gameplay model has proved so fun that it’s actually made its way into other non-karting games. Need for Speed Rivals, for instance, has this concept in full effect for its PS4 and Xbox One versions shipping later this year.
But it’s not just the characters that will make Mario Kart 8 so popular. It’s also the zany vehicles that careen through the game’s equally zany environments. A new real-life Mario Kart infographic shows those vehicles and their character drivers — with a unique twist. Based on the drivers’ personality and style, the Mario Kart 8 infographic actually shows the real-life vehicles that each Nintendo character would drive off the starting line if they weren’t stuck in the digital realm. My fave: Toad driving a red Smart Car.
Nintendo has a lot riding on first-party games like Mario Kart 8, with the Wii U struggling at retail and mega-publisher Electronic Arts no longer actively developing games for the platform. Then again, reliance on first-party games has long been a Nintendo tradition, whether the company likes it or not, so it’s no surprise that the Zelda, Donkey Kong, Pikmin and all Mario and Luigi games (whether they be Super or Karting) are continually a Nintendo system’s biggest draw.
The official Mario Kart 8 release date hasn’t yet been announced, but it has been rumored to be April 2014. If that’s true, it’s surprising to hear the game will not ship this holiday season, which will see the release of both the PS4 and Xbox One consoles. But the first quarter of a calendar year often sees big releases, so releasing Mario Kart 8 after the big rush of PS4 and Xbox One sales may be a good strategic move, as the game will get more attention. If you’d like to pre-order the game, we recommend doing so by pre-ordering Mario Kart 8 at Amazon