Not too long ago, Satoru Iwata told us that Mario Kart Wii U was coming. With enthusiasm, he told Nintendo fans that it would be at this year’s E3, and that it would not just be there, but that it would be playable as well. Excitement ensued Mario Kart fans, and for sure many are speculating on what kind of new features we will see, along with what retro ideas will return from the Mario Kart game universe.
With the Wii U, Nintendo has plenty of options to refresh the series, and perhaps even showcase the value of the Wii U to the general consumer. Mario Kart Wii U could become the pick-up-and-play title that attracts a general audience by showing off the Wii U’s capabilities.
Speaking of features, the Wii U’s GamePad seems like a strong candidate if you want to consider introducing new gameplay ideas, with a touchscreen, motion sensors, and the like, but will that cut it? Would Nintendo be wise to use the GamePad’s features to the extreme, considering a remote and nunchuk from the Nintendo Wii could easily suffice as controls?
And what should Nintendo bring back to the series? What should stay dead?
Better yet, there are some things, no, about five things, Nintendo needs to do to make Mario Kart Wii U a success.
1. Don’t Rush It!
We learned this lesson with the last Mario Kart title, Mario Kart 7 for the Nintendo 3DS. Perhaps desperation, or crazy fans, pushed Nintendo developers to release this game for the 3DS so fast that some features had to be left out. In an effort to get the game on store shelves, Nintendo even called in Retro Studios to help wrap up. While the game had its high points, major characters were absent for the first time in years, glitches were apparent, and gimmicky gameplay left a bad taste in the mouth.
It’s actually worrisome that we’ll be seeing a playable Mario Kart Wii U demo at E3, because if we’ve learned anything from the most recent Mario Kart game in the series, we want Nintendo to take their time. Hopefully, Nintendo’s desire to push first party titles out on the Wii U won’t spoil normally well-crafted games.
2. Better Balance Between Old and New Features.
Nintendo has always had a fairly consistent strategy of adding in the right amount of new ideas to Mario Kart while keeping a solid backbone of tried-and-true features. Mario Kart games include returning characters, race tracks, items, and more from previous titles, and Mario Kart Wii U shouldn’t be any different. Nintendo has strayed away from this formula recently in some ways, and the series is suffering because of it.
With the capabilities of a next-gen console coming into play, Nintendo developers could easily be tempted to overload Mario Kart Wii U with new game ideas. Rather, Nintendo needs to remember that returning characters, tracks, and gameplay ideas build rapport with the players. Not adding enough retro features would be forgetting the backbone of the series, a mistake Nintendo can’t afford to make.
3. Fun Gameplay, Not Gimmicks.
Mario Kart Wii U needs to have a new spirit. Just like the Mario Karts before it, Mario Kart Wii U needs to have a new life, something that draws folks in and creates excitement. New gameplay, new stuff, new everything, catches attention. But again, going overboard will be costly. With Mario Kart Wii U, Nintendo needs to avoid creating gimmicks, and instead focus on innovative ideas.
What would be a one major gimmick mistake in the future Mario Kart? Using the GamePad as the cure-all, sure-all, definitive form to play, and then touting every new GamePad feature.
“Whoa, you can turn, using your GamePad!” “Tap anywhere to leave a item on the track!” “See through walls during the race using the all-new virtual reality mode!”
Stuff like that gets old, quick, and Mario Kart’s success on the Wii U will need to show innovation in every race, so that players come back long after the release date.
4. Miiverse and Online Integration, So We Can Easily Race Along With Friends.
Here’s another chance for Nintendo to use online aspects of Mario Kart Wii U to create a better experience. Needless to say, the next Mario Kart will undoubtedly include online racing, probably bigger and better than before.
While racing anyone is extremely fun already, why can’t Nintendo make it easier to race along with friends? Using Miiverse, players could set up a time and a date to race, share time trial ghost data, and more. It would be even better if Nintendo let players create “Mario Kart race invitations” to send to other players. Voice chat, and possibly even video feed, should be added features so that your friend seems like he’s in the same room during a race. Watching the expression on his face after you pummel him with an item would be priceless.
This Mario Kart is coming to Nintendo’s next-generation console, so it would only make sense to include ample online features.
5. Five-player Multiplayer.
Mario Kart’s multiplayer is the big attraction to the general consumer. With the pick-up-and-play game style, anyone can have fun playing Mario Kart with friends and family on local multiplayer, and if Nintendo gets this right, this game will sell. So far, Mario Kart has only supported four players, and that’s because the consoles have only supported up to four players. Nintendo, however, has more options with the Wii U.
If you have any competitive spirit at all, the last thing you want is for the game to be unfair. No one wants to lose because they have a wimpy control scheme. Hopefully, Nintendo won’t go wild with creating GamePad bells and whistles in-game.
Better yet, instead of making the GamePad the omnipotent controller in multiplayer mode, Nintendo should treat it as a separate screen for player number five. Why not have five players join the party? We’ve seen this five-player multiplayer recently with New Super Mario Bros. U, but with Mario Kart Wii U, Nintendo should take a step farther and allow five people to race together.
What do you think Nintendo should add to Mario Kart for the Wii U? Do you agree or disagree with our ideas? Post your response in the comments below.