A Decade Strong: Mario Kart 8 Continues to Dominate the Racing Game Scene

I always have a go-to list for my gaming nights. Mostly, it’s all about competitive shooters or team-based survival titles, which fit perfectly with my gaming style and liking. But about one year ago, I was thinking and surfing through what I should play next. That’s when I saw the old-time goodie game and thought to myself, How about some Mario Kart? Moments later, I was all synced up on Nintendo Switches, diving into Mario Kart 8. I didn’t put the controllers down for the next three hours.

That’s the magic of Mario Kart 8. It’s either the opening act or the grand finale of a gaming session, and once it’s on, no other game is necessary. Having played Mario Kart 8 since its release 10 Years ago, And mind you, I was just 13 years old. I can vouch for its lasting appeal, both as a player and as someone cheering from the sidelines. Ten years down the line, I see no reason why it won’t remain a staple for another decade.

Back in 2014, Mario Kart 8 dropped on the Wii U and instantly became the talk of the town despite the console’s lukewarm reception. The game’s gravity-defying tracks were mind-blowing at the time, and who could forget the viral sensation of Luigi’s death stare? What truly set Mario Kart 8 apart was its flawless finish. The introduction of new items like the boomerang and the super horn hit just right, and the game kept evolving with loads of DLC. By the end of its run on the Wii U, it had sold 8.5 million copies, becoming the platform’s top seller. But it was on the Nintendo Switch as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe that the game really shone, selling over 61.97 million copies to date and becoming the console’s highest-selling game.

Mario Kart 8 isn’t just a game; it’s a cultural phenomenon. It’s the kind of title that transcends the gaming community, known and played by many outside the usual gaming circles. At any social gathering I attend, there’s a good chance Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is ready to go on the host’s Switch. Though I rarely used my Switch as a portable device as advertised, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe changed that. Suddenly, I was taking my gaming everywhere.

Nintendo continued to capitalize on Mario Kart 8’s success even after its transition to the Switch. The announcement of the MK8D’s Booster Course Pass initially raised eyebrows but ultimately proved its worth by enriching an already deep game. Over eighteen months, Nintendo rolled out 48 additional tracks and introduced eight new characters, along with numerous tweaks and enhancements. Many of these tracks were reimagined versions from earlier titles, but some were brand new, ensuring that MK8D received more ongoing support than many enduring service-based games.

Can you even blame me for never wanting this to end? The sustained investment in MK8D raises the question of whether a new Mario Kart is even necessary. Sure, another one will likely happen, but it’s hard to see where Nintendo could possibly go from here. Both MK8 and MK8D have been such monumental hits that I wouldn’t be surprised if Nintendo simply continues to build on this game for the next generation console, which will probably support it anyway. In an era where games evolve into long-term platforms, why not use this perfect game as a foundation for a new, simplified approach to the future of Mario Kart?

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