Bayonetta 2 Review

Bayonetta 2

Very few games have the energy of Bayonetta 2. It’s a non-stop barrage of style, color and flair. Most games would be utterly exhausted by its enthusiasm.

Bayonetta 2’s greatest strength is its intuitive gameplay. Bayonetta is crafted from the same mold as the likes of Kratos and Dante, but the end result is a far more polished and smooth work than its contemporaries. Every combo, every move, is tight and precise. It controls like a dream.

The story is less focused, and to be honest I barely understand a lick of what’s going on. Bayonetta fights angels and demons (both of which are after her soul) and must save her friend Jeane once she is dragged to hell, and (in true video game fashion) Bayonetta must eventually save the world.

The plot can feel a bit cluttered, and with all the ridiculous goings-on around Bayonetta, it gets even more lost. But the personalities involved are memorable. Bayonetta is a more fleshed-out character than her design (and strategically-placed camera angles) might suggest. Sarcastic but genuinely caring, Bayonetta’s personality makes her sexiness seem only complimentary. The supporting characters – from streetwise amnesiac Loki to the foulmouthed, bumbling Enzo – are a little more tropish, but no less colorful.

But enough of the narrative. Bayonetta is first and foremost an action game, and as stated, that’s where it shines quite brightly. The aforementioned combat is a constantly-expanding affair. By collecting Halos (more than a little nod to Sonic the Hedgehog’s rings) Bayonetta can buy new moves and more weapons (which can be assigned to her hands, legs, or both), all of which give a great sense of “easy to learn, difficult to master.” Bayonetta 2

It’s all glued together through “Witch Mode,” a kind of slow-mo state that’s activated by dodging enemy attacks, and gives the player a primed opportunity to unleash Bayonetta’s best combos. And the ‘climax attacks’ are button-mashing at its most fun, and create a Mortal Kombat like combination of violence and utter ridiculousness. Bayonetta 2

This gameplay is made all the more its own for its sense of style. Appropriately enough for a game that stars a character as extravagant as Bayonetta, just about every moment of the game is an explosion of style and humor, and filled with some of the most bizarre enemy designs in gaming.

One minute Bayonetta is flying through a hurricane in the sky, then she’s sent 500 years in the past piloting her own mecha. It’s outlandish, over-the-top and campy, but its swimming in imagination, and makes its predecessor look mundane.

There’s a new co-operative mode, called ‘tag climax,’ which now means the chaotic fun of Bayonetta can be enjoyed in multiplayer. This is a score attack action game that already demands replayability, but with multiplayer added to the mix that’s doubly true. Bayonetta 2

Some may cry foul at the oversexualization of the game, and I certainly found myself rolling my eyes more than a few times. But again, I find the camera easier to blame than Bayonetta herself. It’s all a bit tongue-in-cheek, so its probably not worth getting too worked up over.

As an added treat provided by the game’s Wii U exclusivity, you can now unlock costumes, moves and weapons based on Mario, Zelda, Metroid and Starfox. The cute Nintendo aesthetics make for an entertaining juxtaposition, but the fact that they give the gameplay even more variety is the real treat.

In short, Bayonetta 2 is a game that plays like a dream. Its sense of control is up there with Nintendo’s own properties, and its so full of personality and style that there’s never a dull moment. It might be a little too chaotic or challenging for some, and the clunky narrative and forced sex appeal may be off-putting to others. But in terms of sheer gameplay, it’s as beautiful as Bayonetta herself.


The Wonderful 101 Review

The Wonderful 101

With colorful character designs, bombastic action set pieces, and an explosion of style, The Wonderful 101 looks to have all the makings of another Platinum beat ’em up classic. Unfortunately, Wonderful 101 ends up being a case of good intentions being muddled by clunky controls and poor camerawork.

It’s far from a completely broken experience, the idea of controlling 100 different gimmicky heroes at once, and using the touch screen to draw different shapes, transforming these heroes into an assortment of weapons – from a simple fist to more extravagant shapes like whips, guns, swords and bombs- is both fun and creative. But if it sounds like a bit much, it probably is.

The Wonderful 101Too often does drawing a shape on the Wii U Gamepad produce something other than the desired weapon. When Okami provided a similar setup with a drawing mechanic back on the PS2 and Wii, it felt a lot more responsive. The GamePad’s touchscreen seems more ideal for the concept, but somehow it rarely works as effectively here. And too often do your heroes seem to be lost in some nook or cranny of a stage, and losing troops is more troubling here than in Nintendo’s own Pikmin 3, since losing more heroes means your transformations are that much less powerful. While players may actually feel compelled to go out and search for a missing Pikmin, in Wonderful 101 losing troops feels more irritating than anything.

Then there’s Wonderful 101’s biggest flaw: the camera. Keeping track of 100 different characters is a difficult enough task as it is. But combine that with a camera that feels sporadic and rarely seems to capture the perfect angle of the action, and it becomes a problem.

Wonderful 101 has its qualities: It’s got a sharp sense of humor (complete with a tongue-in-cheek attitude towards video game stereotyping), the battles can be fun when you actually get a grip on the situation, and the set pieces you find yourself in are thrilling and bursting with personality.

The problem though, is that The Wonderful 101 may just be more fun to watch than it is to actually play. It shares many of the traits of previous gems created by Platinum’s development teams. You may find traces of Viewtiful Joe, Okami and Bayonetta here and there, but Wonderful 101 doesn’t share the fluidity of those games. It’s ambitious and thrilling, and boasts a lot of promise. But it’s a hampered experience in its execution. Some Platinum diehards may find a more enjoyable game here than the uninitiated, but the Wonderful 101 lacks the precision in design that Platinum usually makes look so easy. It’s hardly Viewtiful.


Lego City Undercover Review

Lego City Undercover

Lego City Undercover is a cute, family-friendly rift on Grand Theft Auto, and a fun game in its own right. Set in the titular Lego City, players take control of Chase McCain. In a bit of role-reversal from the GTA games that inspired it, McCain fights for the right side of the law, though being undercover cop gives the developers an easy means to allow McCain to partake in some shady activities while maintaining its target audience.

Chase McCain is on a mission to stop a recent crime wave and catch an escaped convict name Rex Fury. It’s a very basic setup, but it works for the game, especially since it’s filled with good humor, fun personalities (McCain’s bumbling sidekick, Frank Honey, is a highlight), and sprinkled with various movie and video game references (the game is the first in the Lego series to be published by Nintendo, so expect a good few winks to the Big N).

Lego City UndercoverIt’s a fun story to boot. One that takes advantage of Lego-ness to do things the more realistic and gritty GTA cannot, including riding a mechanized T-rex fossil and taking a trip to the moon, among other wacky situations.

But while the script is entertaining and funny, the great thing is that its also a well thought-out game. Lego City is a massive open-world filled with things to do. You can continue with the main story or partake in the many optional side quests throughout the city and its surrounding areas. Or you can always spend your time in Lego City “borrowing” motor vehicles, if that’s your thing. You can even find some opportunities to build new structures and vehicles within Lego City, provided you’ve collected enough blocks.

Unfortunately, the general gameplay is Lego City’s weak point. As fun as it is to roam around the streets in a recently “acquired” vehicle, controlling Chase on foot feels bland. The combat is overly simplistic, and the overall sense of movement feels slow. Chase can disguise in an array of getups -from spaceman to farmer- which add a little variety and some fun gimmicks. But as a whole the gameplay falls short of Lego City’s humor and ambition. There are some moments that use the Wii U Gamepad to aid chase in his crime-solving antics, which provide a welcome change of pace from the clunky combat.

The game looks great, with the Lego visual motif getting a new sheen on the Wii U hardware, and it uses licensed music sparingly but effectively.

Lego City Undercover may not be a killer app for the Wii U, but it does serve a fun addition to its library, and in a genre that is primarily grounded in grit and cynicism, this lighthearted and good-humored deviation is a refreshing spin on tried and true designs.


Game & Wario Review

Game & Wario

The WarioWare series is one of Nintendo’s secret weapons. It’s never had the mainstream appeal of Mario or Zelda, nor does it have their depth, but in many ways, it’s as purely fun as anything Nintendo has made. The winning formula is simple: play a series of seconds-long micro-games in rapid-fire succession, each of them being as simple as a button press or two, but each one containing its own gimmick and sense of humor as to be sure the player is left with a goofy grin when all is done.

So when Game & Wario promises to take those micro-games, and expand them into something bigger, it sounds enticing. If WarioWare is as delicious as a main course as it is an appetizer, than it should be quite a satisfying feast.

It should be, or so it seems on paper. But it isn’t.

Game & Wario’s main issue isn’t that it’s innately broken, but that its execution feels hollow. Whereas WarioWare houses hundreds of little bite-size pieces of fun and game design brilliance, Game & Wario’s mini-games feel empty. The games are bigger, but stretched too thin, and clocking in at only sixteen games, their just aren’t enough of them to make up for the lack of creative spark.

Some games provide good entertainment: Arrow is a simple tower defense-style game where the Wii U Gamepad is used as a bow and arrow to fight off invading robots, and Kung Fu is a plat former in which the character can’t stop jumping, with the Gamepad screen providing a different view of the stage than what’s displayed on your TV, with the dual perspective setup being a fun twist on platformers.

These titles may be fun, but simply aren’t deep enough to hold their own, and when the vast majority of the packaged games aren’t half as entertaining, it becomes clear that Game & Wario has a very limited bag of tricks at its disposal.

A skiing game – aptly titled Ski – fails to recapture the replayability of one of the events of Wii Sports. Design, a seemingly simple sketch game that uses the touch screen to draw what’s instructed, feels unresponsive. Four of the games are based around multiplayer, but none of them make for very compelling party games, and considering that’s a field where Nintendo usually excels, it stings all the more.

Game & Wario may promise bigger games than its WarioWare brethren, but it’s proof that bigger isn’t always better.

    Game & Wario


ZombiU Review


ZombiU is a game that isn’t short on ambition, but stumbles in execution. It’s nothing short of an attempt by Ubisoft to solidify the Wii U as a console that can support “gritty” and “mature” titles like it’s competitors, and in this sense, ZombiU succeeds. It’s scary, violent, and filled with guns and exploding zombie heads. It fits right into the mold of the over saturated zombie apocalypse FPS we’ve all grown accustomed to. But as a gameplay experience, it feels clunky, unfinished, and worst of all, boring.

The player assumes the role of a survivor in the midst of a zombie outbreak. You are not armed to the brim with guns from the get-go, instead you have to track down weapons and items in a zombie-filled London. Should you manage to be killed by a zombie (which becomes an increasingly annoying habit), you will then take control of a new survivor, and you’ll have to find your zombified previous character, and kill them if you want to get your equipment back.

The setup is a nice twist on an increasingly stale genre. Making weapons and items more difficult to come across and the permanent deaths of your characters give the game a sense of urgency that has slowly disappeared from survival horror. But the tension and atmosphere can’t make up for the poorly-executed controls.

ZombiU makes some clever usage of the Wii U Gamepad, using its screen to manage your inventory and view mini-maps feels at home. But controlling your character is another story. Combat feels sloppy, with melee weapons in particular using an odd setup of multiple shoulder buttons, which makes for a slow and clunky execution. You’ll find more often than not that your survivor has  died at zombie hands not because you were too slow to act, but because your character was too slow to react to your button presses.

Multiplayer is included, but feels a bit tacked on. A survivor versus zombie mode is fun for a few quick rounds, but soon becomes repetitious and shallow.

There are some nice little ideas at work here in ZombiU (it even takes a page from Dark Souls and allows players to write messages for other players during their play through of the game), but for all its promise it all ends up being a mediocre affair. The questionable control scheme and overall sluggish pace of the game make it feel like, well, a zombie.


Rabbids Land Review

Rabbids Land

Rabbids Land takes Ubisoft’s questionably popular Rabbids characters, and drops them into a Mario Party-style scenario, complete with board game setup, with some mini-games thrown in between rounds for good measure.

You start by painting your Rabbid one of the colors of the rainbow, and then you’re dropped onto a game board with three other Rabbids, competing for trophies (ten or twenty) before making your way back to the center of the board to win.

You obtain these trophies by winning mini-games (three apiece), answering questions (two per correct answer) or from various bonuses provided by landing on special spaces on the game board.

The standard board game gameplay is rather bland. Think Mario Party but without the fun.  The mini-games can provide small doses of entertainment, and use the Wii U Gamepad in interesting ways, but the effects are short-lived, both because all mini-games are limited to two players (despite this being a four-player party game), and also because their are only a handful of mini-games to begin with. You can honestly play a single round of Rabbids Land and see most of the mini-games the title has to offer within minutes.

The character animations can be fun, with the Rabid’s cartoonish antics providing some comedy that will especially be appreciated by younger audiences. But character animations aside, the game doesn’t do much to show off the Wii U’s graphical capabilities.

Rabbids Land may provide a small sampling of fun for a round or two, but the sheer lack of variety in mini-games and the lack of depth in the rest of the package will all but ensure your visit to Rabbids Land will be short-lived.


Rayman Legends Review

Rayman Legends

As a follow-up to Rayman Origins, Rayman Legends retains much of the side scrolling mayhem of its predecessor, while ironing out some of Origins’ shortcomings.

First and foremost, level progression has been streamlined so players can go at their own pace. Each of the game’s world’s and stages are accessed by jumping into paintings in a central hub. You’ll still need to collect Lums (think Mario’s coins) and rescue creatures called Teensies in order to unlock more stages, but often multiple stages are unlocked all at once, leaving players to decide where they should go next.

The difficulty has been better balanced from Origins. There are still plenty of difficult moments, but its less demanding, and less punishing than its predecessor. Some platforming veterans may cry foul at the game’s more accessible approach, but its more stable difficulty curve makes for a more enjoyable, less frustrating game.

Characters such as Rayman, Globox and Teensies are playable, just as in Origins. They are now joined by a cute barbarian girl named Barbara. Various other characters can be unlocked throughout Legends, though they are mainly just reskins. The Wii U version even includes versions of Rayman and Globox decked out as Mario and Luigi.

Legends benefits for being just as much fun to play alone or with friends. The recent craze of four-player sidescrollers finds a good balance here. It never feels empty when playing alone nor does it feel overcrowded with four.

The gameplay remains unchanged from Origins. Rayman and friends have all the moves they Rayman Legendslearned in the 2011 title, and have no room to learn any new tricks here. Whether or not this absence of new mechanics is a means to make the game more accessible or just a cop out for a lack of ideas is up for debate.

Thankfully, the level design makes up for any other creative missteps. The stages here are a chaotic frenzy of platforming. There’s rarely a moment that doesn’t keep players on their toes. There’s always something to be jumped over, bounced on, or slapped into oblivion. The best are the music stages, which require you to progress through the level in sync to the background music. The music selections include such crazy mashups as a salsa version of Eye of the Tiger and the theme music from Kill Bill sung in a giggle-inducing gibberish. Sadly, the music stages are few, and not all of them feature such creative twists on licensed music.

The Wii U version features stages built around the wii U Gamepad, in which players take control of a creature called Murphy. Murphy doesn’t take part in the platforming, but works as a sort of cursor through the Gamepad’s touchscreen. Murphy can interact with the environment in ways to help out Rayman and hinder enemies. He can even double the points awarded for Lums.

The Murphy stages are a bit of a bittersweet deal, however. They are creative, and make good use of the Gamepad. But they are intended for a multiplayer crowd. These stages are vastly more fun with one player controlling Murphy and the others controlling Rayman and company. If played by oneself, the player must take turns playing as the platforming character and as Murphy, which not only makes for awkward breaks in gameplay, but also leaves a less-than-reliable AI in control of the platforming character when the player takes control of Murphy.

The visuals are a bright, cartoonish treat. The hand-drawn visuals of Origins return, with added flairs in lighting and shading. The music is equally as delightful and silly.

Rayman Legends may feel like more of an extension of Origins than a full-on sequel (it even includes most of Origins’ best stages), but its a darned entertaining game filled with style and charm. It’s not the most creative platformer out there, but its so fun you might not even care.


New Super Luigi U Review


New Super Luigi U is a strange take on the New Super Mario Bros. series. It was released both as DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U and as a standalone title. The gimmick is that it’s all built around Luigi. The under appreciated green Mario brother finally gets a sidescroller to call his own. Though it does feel more complimentary to NSMBU than it does a full-on adventure, it still provides solid platforming.

New Super Luigi U uses the same exact world map as New Super Mario Bros. U, but the 70+ levels within it are entirely new. The time limit is cut short to a mere 100 seconds, meaning that infamous ‘hurry up’ jingle will be heard as soon as you begin a stage. It makes for a more hectic affair than Mario’s usual ventures, and is sure to please those looking for a challenge, but it is perhaps an unnecessary change, since the courses here are already considerably more difficult than those found in Mario Bros. U.

The shortened time limit is also reflected by the fact that these courses are smaller, leaving them to feel more like quick-fire challenges than the more complete platforming locales the more famous Mario brother is known for.

To make things more difficult (and to give this game a little more distinction), Luigi now boasts his floatier jumps from Super Mario Bros. 2. Officially dubbed “Luigi physics” by Nintendo, Luigi’s gravity-defying abilities mean the green-clad plumber spends more time in the air, which might prove troublesome in the courses where you need to be as quick as possible. Luigi’s movements on the ground are also more slippery when compared to Mario’s, which can also lead to some accidental losses.

New Super Luigi U is definitely catered to seasoned plat former veterans. But for novices who still want to join in on the fun, there is a silver-lining. Nabbit, the rabbit-like thief from New Super Mario Bros. U is now a playable character in multiplayer, and is impervious to enemy attacks. It may seem like a cheat, but Nabbit is also unable to grab power-ups, and can still be killed by falling into pits. Nabbit serves as a means for beginners to learn the ropes alongside more experienced players.

New Super Luigi U may not have the weight to entirely justify a standalone purchase, but if viewed as a kind of super hard mode for New Super Mario Bros. U, it makes for a great piece of DLC. It’s higher difficulty and shorter stages may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it will be something of a treat for those seeking a platforming challenge.


New Super Mario Bros. U Review


New Super Mario Bros. U is as its name implies, a New Super Mario Bros. game on the Wii U. But don’t let the uninspired name and cliched aesthetics fool you, this is the heftiest entry in the “New” Super Mario sub-series by she margin. It may not reach the creative heights of classics like Super Mario Bros. 3 or Super Mario World, but it is an improvement over its predecessors.

The gameplay remains largely the same. Up to four players can join in a side scrolling romp as either Mario, Luigi, or two different colored Toads (all of which play identically). This time around, an added fifth player can use the Wii U Gamepad to help (or hinder) the other players by creating platforms using the touchscreen. It’s not a radical use of the Wii U Gamepad, but it does add a little ‘newness’ to this tried and true formula.

NSMBU’s primary new power-up is the flying squirrel suit, which allows Mario and company to glide through the air and latch onto walls. It won’t be remembered as one of the great Mario power-ups, but it brings some fun to the table, and compliments the returning Fire Flowers, Ice Flowers and Power Stars of yesteryear.

The level design deserves the most praise. While New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii and 3DS may have felt like they were simply going through the motions, New Super Mario Bros. U brings a genuine sense of creativity back to the level design. Finding every last Star Coin becomes a challenge, and some of the later stages will test even hardened platforming veterans.


Additionally, a character called Nabbit will occasionally appear in a previously completed course, which transforms the stage into a hectic chase sequence. Catching Nabbit will award players with an enhanced version of one of the game’s power-ups.

While the game mostly plays up familiar Mario elements, there are some new modes added to New Super Mario Bros. U. Challenge mode and boost rush add a little deviation from the usual princess rescuing, while adding some extra difficulty to the mix, while also giving you the chance to play as your Miis if you so desire.

New Super Mario Bros. U was the first time the Mario series had been presented in HD. Although the visual design of the game plays things safe -lacking the robust visual splendor of Galaxy- the added HD gloss does make the game more eye-popping than its predecessors. Unfortunately, the music is mainly recycled from New Super Mario Bros. Wii. It’s nice and catchy, but far from the most memorable in the series.

New Super Mario Bros. U may not entirely justify that “New” in the title, but it is nonetheless an entertaining and meaty platformer that outdoes the other entries in the series. If anything, it’s proof that even when Mario isn’t at his A game, he’s still outperforming his rivals when it comes to pure fun.


Mario Kart 8 Review

Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8 is essential for any Wii U library, and possibly the most fine-tuned entry in the beloved series. The HD visuals combined with the colorful Mario aesthetics make it an absolutely gorgeous game, but the real highlight isn’t in the visual department. What makes Mario Kart 8 work so well is its overall structure.

Weapons like Koopa Shells and Lightning Bolts return, it wouldn’t be Mario Kart without them. But while most entries seem to favor the racer who was lucky enough to nab the best items, Mario Kart 8 balances the items and instead emphasizes player skill and understanding the track designs.

Drifting and stunts give players a small boost, as they have in past Mario Karts, but here you’ll find the tracks are largely built around them. Ramps and curves are liberally spread out across the tracks, leaving the player to learn every last one of them. Missing even a single drift boost can impact where the player scores when they cross the finish line.

Luigi Death Stare

That doesn’t mean the game is overly demanding. This is still Mario Kart, after all. While it may take some mastering to be able to whiz through the tracks, the aforementioned items – no longer taking center stage – are now used to smooth things out.

New items include the Boomerang – which can be used up to three times, with each throw having two chances to take out opponents – and the Piranha Plant, which chomps nearby racers, giving you a boost in the process. Then there’s the Super Horn, which sends a shockwave that not only takes out other racers, but incoming projectiles as well. That includes the infamous Spiked Shell.

These new items join most of the series mainstays, and help bridge the gap between player abilities, making races feel more unpredictable than they might otherwise be. Though Nintendo might have gone a tad overboard when trying to balance the frequency of these items, as Mushrooms seem annoyingly common, which may get frustrating given the limited effectiveness of their boosts.

It’s not just that the mechanics have been refined that make Mario Kart 8 such a blast, the track designs themselves are among the best in the series, and greatly benefit from anti-gravity sections, which allow for some creative twists to what is to be expected from Mario Kart tracks. Turning the courses upside down and driving against walls brings to mind Super Mario Galaxy or the bonus stages from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and it brings a sense of freshness to the Mario Kart series. Retro tracks return, with slight modifications to take advantage of the anti-gravity segments. They’re all the better for it.

One track sees you driving against waterfalls, grabbing small boots so you don’t fall behind in its current, while another seems to be Nintendo’s recreation of Sugar Rush from Wreck-It Ralph. The tracks boast some of the most fun designs in the series (not to mention a diversity of stunning visuals between them), and it lacks that gimmicky stage or two that seemed thrown in to some of the past few entries.

Mario Kart 8If only the character roster could share in that creativity. While the obvious favorites like Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and Peach return, many of the newcomers feel like bottom of the barrel selections. The Koopalings are a welcome addition (even if they do take up a good chunk of the roster), but too many alternate versions of existing characters (namely baby versions of the Mario Bros. and Princesses) feel tacked on. And Pink Gold Peach may just be the low point in Nintendo character ideas. It’s true, the play styles of the characters and karts are what’s important, but given this is a series with no shortage of heritage to draw from, the inconsistent roster feels muddled.

But the vehicle diversity – which includes the return of Mario Kart Wii’s bikes – largely make up for the wonky characters. You’ll find that each vehicle adds its own tweaks to the gameplay, which makes for a more varied experience.

The online features will probably have you returning more than anything. Mario Kart 8 will have you testing your abilities in races or tournaments with players from around the world, meaning you’ll always have someone to play with, and it all works so smoothly that you wish Nintendo’s other franchises could offer such an online experience. You can even choose your own settings (limiting items or no items at all, for example), and hosting tournaments creates its own Miiverse community, making communication between players all the easier.

Best of all, you can now take the replays of your races, and post their highlights in a video directly to YouTube via Miiverse. You don’t exactly get a lot of editing tools, but the option to upload videos directly from the game is a treat, and another feature I hope makes return appearances in Nintendo titles.Mario Kart 8

Mario Kart 8’s one great drawback is the Balloon Battle mode. Since the series inception, Balloon Battles have been one of Mario Kart’s greatest highlights. But here it’s all watered down. Gone are the battle arenas, now Balloon Battles are held in one of the standard race tracks, with the anti-gravity sections omitted of all things. You still must deplete your opponents’ balloons with the use of items, but the experience has been sullied of the very aspects that made it one of the most memorable experiences in the series. It’s a bit baffling that Mario Kart 8 gets so much right, and yet it’s the battle mode of all things that is left out of its vision.

When considering the overall package, it’s a small detraction. Mario Kart 8 is as fun and addictive as any party game Nintendo has made. The control options are a plenty, whether you prefer traditional methods or motion controls, Mario Kart 8 has them all fine-tuned. And the presentation, from the eye-popping HD visuals to the beautifully orchestrated score, Mario Kart 8 delivers in spades. It has its missteps, but they are forgivable when you consider this is likely the finest of all Mario Karts. And doesn’t that say it all?