Wondercon 2014's video game showing wasn't all too grand but Nintendo never fails to give the event a jolly good show. A demo for Mario Kart 8 was available to play on the Wii U.
The demo had a slew a playable characters to choose from, like the classic Mario and Yoshi all the way to new additions like Roselina. From the looks of things, the characters don't make a difference in terms of driving performance since I did not see any stats or character classes like Mario Kart 7's light,medium, and heavy archetypes. That's faily dissappointing since I liked playing different characters because of their styles but I guess Nintendo went for a more casual approach, giving everyone the ability to play whatever racer they wanted. Mind you, this is an impression on the demo so if the game does have archetypes, enlighten me.
Going into the game, the playstyle has the old, enjoyable, Mario Kart feel to it. The items are goofy, and the atmosphere is just this unexplainable sense of fun. You go in, you race other NPC, and you get mauled in the silliest of ways trying to beat them. I was pretty bad at the game but still, me and the random gentleman playing the game next to me couldn't help but laugh at all our misfortunes (damn you ramps over water!).
The only thing new about the gameplay, besides new maps (unfortunately, no rainbow Road) is that your Kart transforms into a hovercraft when you go over a speed-up pad, you can glide over long distances when you jump a ramp, and you turn into a little submarine when you enter into water that is a part of the race course. There are also a handful of new items like the spamable fire flower which is pretty ridiculous.
All-in-all, my experience with the eighth Mario Kart installment was pretty good. The game gave me this F-Zero-esque feel since the courses had a lot of sideways and upside down roads. Obviously, I didn't get the full experience but when it comes to their 1st party software, Nintendo doesn't really dissappoint. The one complaint people had was the game felt slow, however I think the races were set to the very basic 50cc engine-class so of course it would feel slower and easier. I can't wait to see the mayhem the game has in-store for 150cc.
Mario Kart 8 releases for the Wii U on May 30th, 2014.