What We Want From the Next Mario Kart
No matter which side you fall on in the Nintendo and nostalgia debate, it’s hard to deny that there’s something simply amazing and crack-like about the addictive nature of the Mario Kart series. Outside of games like Skyrim and Pokemon, few games have managed to gobble up as many hours of my life as Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS.
And with the Wii U in need of software, it’s almost inevitable that a new Mario Kart announcement is around the corner (E3, maybe?). And being that we’re in a sub culture of people always looking to the next best thing, I decided to put together a list of what I’d like to see either brought back or added into the next iteration in Nintendo’s flagship racing series.
So without any further ado…
This might seem a bit out of character, but I’d love to see a story mode implemented for the single player portion of the next Mario Kart. For the perfect example of this, I refer you to Diddy Kong Racing and its use of boss fights and a hub world to allow you to engage in the game’s story. The simple menus of Mario Kart 7 were aesthetically well designed, but a hub world and story to go through would be a great addition to give the game another layer of depth and would make for a more cohesive experience for the avid solo player. With the Wii U’s HD graphics, it would be especially amazing to visit different areas of a high definition hub world.
NEW BATTLE MODES
While Balloon Battle and Coin Rush were fun modes, I’d still love to have a great battle mode a la Icicle Pyramid in Diddy Kong Racing for the next Mario Kart. Make it every player for his/herself, and load the arena chock full of red and green shells. Give each of the players a health bar, and make the arena a close-knit environment that forces the battle to whittle down to an intense one-on-one showdown. This would be a great addition for the multiplayer element especially, and would give players an entirely new layer of content that could keep them entertained for hours.
KEEP THE DRIVING MECHANICS
The mechanics found in Mario Kart 7 are (in my opinion) some of the tightest and most well-developed in the series. Drifting was fun, the controls were incredibly responsive, items were fun to use, and driving just felt like an all-around satisfying experience. I wouldn’t change a thing about the driving of Mario Kart 7, and would love to see the same ideas presented in the game’s future iteration.
Both Diddy Kong Racing and Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed offered different vehicle modes during gameplay. Hovercrafts and airplanes were offered alongside karts in Diddy Kong, and different vehicle modes in Sonic offered a change in gameplay to keep things feeling fresh. It not only allows you to play around with new vehicles and tailors the game to specific play styles, it also gives you the chance to introduce a fresh set of customization options a la vehicle upgrades that can be unlocked by winning cup races or gathering a certain amount of coins. The possibilities are endless! Well, not really. But there’s still a lot of them.
ALL NEW TRACKS
While I liked the 16 classic tracks in MK 7, I’d love to see Nintendo use the next Mario Kart to show off the Wii ‘s HD prowess and give us all new tracks for each of the cup races. Add in the brilliant air and underwater sequences again, give us more shortcuts, and offer more alternate routes on a set of all-new tracks, and I’ll be a happy woman.
Don’t get me wrong…I have nothing against the roster of Mario Kart 7. But could we do without some of the more obscure secondary characters and bring back some of Mario’s better-known faces? Where was Waluigi? King Boo? The roster for MK 7 was surprisingly small, and I feel like it would benefit the next game to offer more by way of racers. In fact, I’d love to see Mario Kart take the Super Smash Bros. approach and start offering more of Nintendo’s other standout characters such as Link or Kirby. That would allow us to race in all-new environments and even have new abilities and items to use in the races. A pipe dream, yes. But one that I still salivate over nonetheless.
With the capabilities of the Wii U GamePad, this seems like a no-brainer. Why not allow players to use the system’s touch screen to construct their own custom courses to race time trials or multiplayer matches in? Let them add jumps, obstacles, different terrain, even alternate routes and shortcuts, and you’ve made a compelling mode that has great potential to be shared among the MiiVerse LittleBigPlanet-style. An entire mode of player-created tracks would be a stellar addition indeed, and one the game would really benefit from.
While I love nearly every aspect of Mario Kart 7, there’s still an inherent middle finger being flashed at the player in the harder difficulty levels thanks to poorly designed AI. This isn’t to say the game is too hard; it’s simply completely unrealistic. When one is having a near-perfect run on a track and hitting every opportunity for a speed boost available, it simply doesn’t make sense to be hit by a red or blue shell and have the chance to end up in the middle of the pack again. There is something inherently cheater-like in the AI of MK 7 that needs to be addressed in the next game in order to make the experience more strategic and enjoyable for all.
Like the Mario Kart featuring Nintendo characters idea, I am well aware that this is yet another pipe dream. But is it so bad for me to want new tracks released every few months as DLC? Of course, the idea of a player-created and shared track feature could suffice for this, but really, I just want to have more excuses to play Mario Kart long after it is first released.
What features do you want in the next Mario Kart? Tell me in the comments below!