Mario Kart 8 Officially Justifies the Wii U's Graphical Prowess
Say what you want about the Wii U. Whine and complain as much as you'd like about how the system isn't at the same 'power-level' as the PS4 or XBOX One. One thing is for sure, though:
Mario Kart 8 is one damn-fine looking game.
It's been a little less than a year from since the public got a chance to first see the title in action. It's been a little over a year from since Nintendo showed us their ace-card in motion. It's been a little over a year from since what is Wii U's, arguably - best-looking title to release yet.
And it's weird.
I say that it's weird simply because in the 1.5 years that the system has been out, it has been under a lot of fire. Some have complained about how the Gamepad is “unnecessary”, others have booed the lack of third-party support – and there are some which time and again, have complained about how it simply isn’t riding as high as the PS4 or XBOX One in terms of power. This is a topic that has come up many times, even before the Wii U was released back in 2012. Nintendo has never really been the type to advertise the true specs of their systems; leaving gamers to figure out the limits on their own. As to why they choose to do this is unknown – but it’s not like its necessary. After all, they make consoles not PCs. Regardless, one thing is for sure, even if we still don’t know the exact specifications; that doesn’t change the fact that many games on the system have performed reasonably well.
Look at titles such as Trine 2, Need for Speed: Most Wanted U, Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, DKC: Tropical Freeze, Sonic Lost World, Sonic Boom, ACIV: Black Flag, and Rayman Legends – it’s undoubtedly clear that they all look great. But the system is supposed to be “weak, “underpowered”, a “technological slouch”. Why do you think devs are ignoring it? It’s simply too weak! It can’t keep up! What was Nintendo thinking? It’s just two Wii’s duck taped together!
Okay, okay, enough with the foolishness.
The acclaimed indie-studio, Shin’en Multimedia has already spoken on numerous occasions about the Wii U’s power. But, for the sake of keeping it brief, I’ll simply quote one of their statements:
“I can’t detail the Wii U GPU but remember it’s a GPGPU. So you are lifted from most limits you had on previous consoles. I think that if you have problems making a great looking game on Wii U then it’s not a problem of the hardware.”
When I first read this, I literally did a slow clap. It just made sense. It was nice to finally see a developer, speak well of the system. And let’s be real; they have proof to back it up. Considering the fact that they basically work exclusively on Nintendo hardware – it’s no doubt that they know what they’re talking. Heck, they released 3 – yes only three – titles on the original Wii, through the WiiWare service – and those 3 titles, all under 45mb, looked better (and played better) than 90% of the Wii’s entire library. With Wii U – they were there for the launch of its eShop – with their title Nano Assault NEO, and once again, they’ve dazzled us with one fine looking game. And they have two more in development. Now then, what’s my point? Shin’en wasn’t just saying that as lip-service. They were right.
And all Nintendo did was solidify it.
Look at Mario Kart 8. Look at the screenshots. Look at the trailers. Look at the gameplay clips. Look at all the effects going on. Look at the beautiful bloom, the shaders, and amazing lighting. What about the amounts of polygons, even so much so that now each character’s hair flutters in the wind? I’m picking out all the details for a reason – It’s no PS4, true, but in no way shape or form, can anyone with a functioning brain and pair of eyes, can look at this game and not say: “Wow, that looks beautiful!”
Mario Kart 8 is easily Nintendo’s best looking title ever released on the Wii U, and arguably their most beautiful title ever. The environments in the background are just drop-dead gorgeous. Look at Rainbow Road; look at that train circling the track, and those city far below in the distance, with real-time lighting effects. The thing looks like a Pixar movie that’s simply been converted to a game. And that’s saying something.
It’s true that we’ll never see the Wii U hit the level of running something along the lines of The Order: 1886, for instance – but that doesn’t change the fact, that if we continue to get games that are at the level of Mario Kart 8; there really is no reason for complaints. Nintendo has always been the ones too show us what their systems are made of, and for what is arguably going to be the biggest release for the system’s lifetime; they are doing an amazingly good job.