The final round of downloadable content for Mario Kart 8, Nintendo’s brilliant cartoon racing game, contains new racers including a skeletal Bowser and characters from placid town-building game Animal Crossing.
It also comes with four tracks, two of which are culled from past Mario Kart outings and two new. Wild Woods sees you racing around a vast tree with gravity-taunting vertical sections, but the star of the show is the Animal Crossing-themed course, which randomly appears in one of four different seasons, changing details on and off the track. A sizeable chunk of new content, this pack conforms to Nintendo’s peerless levels of polish and panache. Another update to the game is available free, and adds a feverishly fast 200cc mode, providing a challenge for players who find the 150cc cups too easy. A generous package, breathing new life into a game rightly hailed as a good reason to buy a Wii U, and among the finest offline multiplayers ever invented by humans.
ALSO OUT THIS WEEK
Project CARS, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U & PC
Like GRID Autosport and the TOCA series before it, Project CARS is a stickler for realism. A “community assisted racing simulator”, it’s authentic good fun, eschewing frippery like rewinding time after you flub a corner. It also gets cross with you for cutting chicanes and using other cars as informal crash barriers. In return, we get staggeringly beautiful recreations of the world’s racing tracks, and vehicles ranging from lowly go-karts to modern Formula One cars. It’s worth working your way up from humble beginnings, because jumping straight behind the wheel of an Aston Martin will see you losing control like a drunken amateur, the light touch needed for steering and acceleration earned through painstaking hours. Unlike its peers, CARS gives you access to all its cars and tracks straight away, letting race wins stand on the satisfaction of driving well rather than the hackneyed industry standard of drip-feeding new content. Sadly, though, technical difficulties abound, from your car failing to respond to controls to races where there are no sound effects. Most can be overcome by simply restarting, but it’s disappointing how often you’ll need to do that.
Bandai Namco, £36.99-£42.99
Broken Age: The Complete Adventure, PS4 & PS Vita
Kickstarter-funded adventure Broken Age told two stories in old-school “point and click” style: one about a boy stuck on a spaceship with an overbearingly maternal AI, the other featuring a girl about to take part in a ritual called the Maiden’s Feast in which she gets fed to a monster. The Complete Adventure adds a closing act in which the children swap places, the girl stranded in deep space and the boy preparing to be monster food. It’s saved the developer from having to draw new locations, but it makes for a less visually interesting conclusion. The puzzles in the second half are more complicated and numerous, but new baddies are a letdown, even though the quality of script and voice acting remain excellent throughout. Aimed at older children and young adults, its themes of rebelling against authority and the rocky transition to adulthood are tackled with gentle humour and many movie references. It’s witty and engaging but not masterpiece material.
Double Fine, £18.99
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