Discussions around Mario Kart 8 are getting heated as the moment, as players have discovered a new technique some are calling "Fire Hopping."
While you can see Fire Hopping in action in the footage below by MK8 Records, basically, it's something that allows players to maintain a speed boost via hopping. Fire Hopping is possible to pull off with everything but inner drifting bikes.
How does it work? Redditor KaiserYoshi says that, "Apparently, you lose speed faster when in contact with the ground, so jumping repeatedly at the end of a boost will keep you going slightly faster for a slightly longer time."
The Mario Kart community seems split on Fire Hopping, as it's technically not something that the manual lists or that Nintendo has mentioned being in the game in the past. At the same time, though the technique has an effect on the racing, it's also not clear if Fire Hopping actively "ruins" the game for other people. Is it fair for someone to use the technique if others don't know about it or can't pull it off? Should this be called a glitch or an exploit? Are players who use it cheaters, or are they simply better players?
"It's not that big of a deal-breaker (at least for me)....if it makes us better players then why not," neoGAF user random25 opines.
"Whelp looks like the online will be ruined soon. Nintendo better patch this ASAP," YouTube commenter Gnerdus writes.
"[It's] not cheating but exploiting an unintended mechanic. As far as I'm aware the game is not meant to be played this way by the developer," Ansatz says. "It's unfair that your drift boost will last longer / have a better effect that mine simply because you mastered this technique, it makes no sense," he continues.
"So the first exploit rears it's ugly head!," Mario Kart Wii forum poster Lonely Dolphin exclaims. "Well it's not as bad as MK7's Monster tires, and not even close to MKWii inward drift bikes or MKDS snaking, so it wont ruin the online or anything," they reason.
Whether or not Fire Hopping is an intentional technique, only Nintendo can say. We contacted them to ask if they knew about Fire Hopping's existence, and whether or not there are plans to patch it out in the future—we'll let you know if we hear back. But at the moment, Fire Hopping is in the game. Whether or not it gives a significant advantage is also up to debate. One player, akaoni, chimes in with their findings:
I've been practicing doing the hopping trick in Royal Raceway and I can see the benefits. The trick seems to be eliminating non-linearity when cornering, basically you slow down when alternating between drifts because the kart has to physically turn, while it also seems to provide better speed if you leave the ground I assume. So you can use it to bridge the gap between multiple turns without having to readjust the direction you're facing. It also improves large boosts and works for about 4/5 consecutive hops, this seems to work with a long drifting boost the same way. The cornering allows you to run a very narrow racing line because you don't have to account for your kart steering off the track as much when close to the edge. It seems easier to do with the d-pad.
So is it reliable? On simple corners it's very easy to do consistently and get a slight incremental benefit, or on the long boosts it's a given that doing 3 hops will be safe for the benefits, but doing it on every single occasion with maximum efficiency like the time trial does seems extremely risky because of how close you're running to the edge of the track which can cost you dearly with a single mistake.
In the past, many competitive communities have discovered exploits or glitches that were not intended by the developer, but that nonetheless get used by players regularly—and they're not always considered "cheating." Famous examples include combos in early Street Fighter games, and wave dashing in Smash Bros. Mario Kart itself has experienced something like this in the past, most notably with "snaking"—a technique that allowed players in Mario Kart DS to do mini-turbos on a straightaway. Like Fire Hopping, snaking was a most controversial technique, and Mario Kart players differed on whether or not it should be used against people. Most players seem hesitant to compare Fire Hopping to Snaking, however, even if Fire Hopping is causing arguments about the nature of advanced techniques/exploits/cheating.
What do you make of Fire Hopping? Is it fair to use—heck, might you be using the technique against other players? Do you care if it's intentional or not? Let us know in the comments.
Note that this technique is being called different things by different communities—I've seen terms such as "snake hopping," "bunny hopping," and more commonly, "Fire Hopping."