Nintendo has added “200cc” to Mario Kart 8. It’s a high-speed, high-difficulty game mode where you drive “CRAZY FAST!” (according to the in-game description).
And it is crazy fast. Along with the update that adds this hyper-speed, there has also been some new DLC. One of the new DLC courses is Big Blue, a track from Nintendo’s other racing game, F-Zero. This is the second F-Zero course to appear in Mario Kart 8.
Speaking of F-Zero, one of the main gimmicks to Mario Kart 8 is that most of its courses feature anti-gravity, an element that has consistently been central to the F-Zero games. It has felt pretty clear, since before Mario Kart 8 was even released, that the anti-gravity idea was borrowed from F-Zero.
Did you know that the F-Zero series is older than the Mario Kart series? Also, did you know that, without F-Zero, Mario Kart would never exist? That’s right. The original F-Zero was released on the Super Nintendo, and after it completely changed racing games forever, Nintendo execs said, “Hey, we should make another F-Zero, but with multiplayer. Also, it should be easier because F-Zero is pretty hard.” That was how the idea for Mario Kart, a multiplayer-focused family-fun racing game, came about.
The most recent game in the F-Zero series (in the US at least) was F-Zero GP Legend, released for the Game Boy Advance in 2003. It’s old. The most prolific F-Zero game was the one released right before GP Legend, F-Zero GX, for the Gamecube. I’ve written about F-Zero GX multiple times, and it is undoubtedly my favorite racing game of all time.
I find it strange and disheartening that Mario Kart, which would not exist if not for F-Zero, would take tracks from F-Zero, anti-gravity from F-Zero, and ridiculously high speed from F-Zero.
How come so many elements from F-Zero have been stolen by Mario Kart? I would much rather see a new F-Zero game (it has been over 10 years, let’s not forget) than see Mario Kart 8 get all the things I liked in F-Zero.
At this point you might be thinking, “Why are you complaining? If you love F-Zero, and Mario Kart 8 is becoming more like F-Zero, then doesn’t that mean you should be happier than ever with Mario Kart? Now it’s more like the game you love!”
200cc doesn’t work that well in Mario Kart. The game’s courses simply weren’t designed to be played at such a high speed, and there’s a real struggle when playing on 200cc to stay on the track and not run into walls. F-Zero was always designed with intense speed in mind, and because Mario Kart 8 has been out for a year, and 200cc was just implemented today, clearly the hyper-fast 200cc mode was an afterthought. The courses just aren’t fun in 200cc. They are challenging and hard, which is great for Mario Kart enthusiasts, but it is also frustrating because none of the game’s 48 (!!!) courses were meant to be played at such a high speed.
Furthermore, weapons and items ruin the fun. Mario Kart is only half a skill-based game. The other half of it is luck-based. I find it extremely common to get hit by a blue shell or lightning bolt late in the third lap while I’m in the lead, ruining my victory. In F-Zero, there are no items, and there is way more skill than luck involved. YOU are the weapon in F-Zero, as slamming into enemies can destroy them or knock them off the course to their doom. Additionally, in Mario Kart, when you start to fall behind (probably because you got hit by an item), you basically have to depend on getting a good item in order to catch back up. In F-Zero, you will fall behind when you turn poorly or fail to evade an aggressive enemy who is trying to attack you– but if you boost wisely you will always catch back up. In F-Zero, it’s almost always your fault if you fall behind, and it is your effort that gets you into first place. In Mario Kart, it’s all about luck, purely because of the items.
So, while it sounds cool in theory that Mario Kart is adopting elements of F-Zero, it really doesn’t work in that game. F-Zero’s gameplay only really works in F-Zero, and that’s why we need a new F-Zero game.