Ever since Nintendo made its surprise announcement that Mario Kart 8 was getting a new high-speed difficulty level, excited fans have had one question: what would it do to Mario Kart?
Yes, 200CC speed certainly looked faster. But how much faster was it, exactly?
[Insert your favorite Fast and Furious quote about driving really fucking fast here]
The new Mario Kart 8 DLC finally came out this week. In addition to adding some disgustingly cute characters and awesome new tracks to gaming’s foremost kart-racing title, it also added 200cc for players who’d already mastered the previous highest difficulty—i.e., gotten gold trophies for all of Mario Kart 8’s Grand Prix cups.
Kart fans online have been losing their shit—almost entirely in a good way—online for the past day or so because of how game-changing 200cc has already proven to be.
Why is 200cc such a major shift for Mario Kart? Well, the short answer is that it’s really, really, really fast.
On the Mario Kart subreddit, players have been commenting regularly on how much more insane the new speed makes Mario Kart 8:
Calling it “bonkers”:
...and an extremely welcome improvement for an already great game:
They’ve been doing the same over on Twitter too:
Wowing at the extreme, awesome jump in difficulty it brings to the game:
...the new techniques it encourages for top Kart performance:
...and the ways that it makes you feel like a total badass:
The realization behind all these jokes is that 200cc effectively recreates the Mario Kart meta-game from the bottom up:
By setting such a high bar for races’ minimum speed, suddenly heavy-weight characters (like Bowser and Wario) and vehicles aren’t as valuable for the way their extra weight helped them reach a higher top speed than the rest of Mario Kart 8’s competing light-weight ones. Now all of a sudden, handling more important than anything. Because without it, you’re just gonna keep running face-first into walls over and over again whenever coming up to a hard turn.
It’s odd to think of Mario Kart, of all things, being a game with established “meta” and players who boast about their dedicated “mains.” As I said yesterday: “I mean: what is this? League of Legends?”
Really, though, I’d argue that the new 200cc mode is what proved there is a meta for Mario Kart. It was only by changing it that Nintendo could reveal its existence so nakedly. And that’s what makes Nintendo’s creative shift here so brilliant.
Nintendo has always shown a unique, masterful ability to create games that are fun on multiple levels—games like Smash Bros. that are simultaneously silly, chaotic party games and fiercely competitive slugfests that require months (if not years) of fine-tuning and careful practice to master.
Mario Kart has always leaned towards to the casual-friendly side of things, though. And while that’s helped make the game a classic for generations upon generations of gamers, the declining interest in Mario Kart 8 since it first came out last year showed that seasoned Kart racers longed to sink their teeth into something meatier...a genuinely competitive Mario Kart experience:
In case you don’t know, the “no items” joke these players are making is a reference to the most competitive mode in Smash Bros. that turns off items. It’s the one that helped turned Smash into a legitimate fighting game with dedicated tournaments regularly taking place across the world.
I don’t know if that’s the exact future of Mario Kart. I’m not even sure I’d want that to be its future. But as a huge Mario Kart 8 fan, I’m glad to have an amazing new reason to put down Smash in favor of picking this game up again.