‘Mario Kart 8’ inspires fun

“Mario Kart” is coming. That’s a terrifying and slightly exhilarating piece of news.

The eighth edition in the “Mario Kart” series hit shelves on Friday to much acclaim. The game doesn’t do much new, but that’s not the point. “Mario Kart 8” for the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS is exactly what people want — a horrifically good racing game that sucks people in for long periods of time.

“Mario Kart” titles are among the premier party games for any age. The game revolves around using Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, Ghost, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and a bevy of other Nintendo favorites to drive around gorgeous tracks and use ridiculous weapons to gain the advantage in a three-lap race.

This seemingly simple game engine belies an incredibly deep experience, as well as a dark undertone. The game itself isn’t dark by any means — it’s what emotions the game evokes.

This game has ruined friendships. It has taught people new swear words. It has caused fights among married couples. I don’t know if anybody has been murdered over a round of “Mario Kart” yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Popular competitive games like “Mario Kart” or “Call of Duty” can bring out the worst in people if you let it. That’s because they’re so darn addictive. I love playing “Mario Kart” with friends, but it’s a long-running joke among hardcore “Mario Kart” fans that the game will elicit curses, harsh words and even a black eye or two among friends. Mario Kart is, in other words, serious business.

And it’s seriously fun. The games represent intense competition as players work against one another on dozens of race tracks, whether it’s using lightning to shrink other players, dropping bananas on speed boosts, or, god forbid, using a blue shell when your buddy is in first place.

It’s a family-friendly game too, despite all of the horrific player stories about it. The characters don’t speak words and everything is as Nintendo-safe as possible.

“Mario Kart 8” is no different. The game incorporates anti-gravity racing this time around, which means players can run off walls and ceilings, as well as bump into other players to get a huge speed boost.

There are still 32 tracks in the game, the same as “Mario Kart 7” on the Nintendo Wii and DS. Of those, 16 are brand new for gamers to enjoy.

The game looks amazing and plays just like “Mario Kart 7” for the most part, which means longtime “Mario Kart” fans will have a leg up on online competition.

This is the title that will sell a lot of Nintendo Wii U units this summer. It’s an incredibly fun game and a worthy update to the series. This is one game you should get as soon as possible — if you can find it.

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