Nintendo has revealed a variety of new details for Mario Kart 8, the the hotly-anticipated next entry into the company's tenured Mario Kart racing series releasing next month for Wii U.
This new info includes details about online features, new characters, new items and a special Wii U bundle containing both the console and the game.
"Everyone loves Mario Kart," Nintendo of America's executive vice president of Sales & Marketing Scott Moffitt said. "It's a franchise that brings people together for fun at a family gathering, a frenzied race against friends or just an afternoon break at the office. The numerous new features of Mario Kart 8 make this the most ambitious version yet, and one that will have players of all skill levels racing for the checkered flag."
When taking the game online, as many as 12 players can race together in four different multiplayer modes. The game also lets players chat with one another in the lobby area using either the Wii U GamePad's built-in microphone or text phrases as they wait for other racers to join. Public or private tournaments can also be created.
Per franchise tradition, players will also have the option to race against ghost data from friends or even the top 10 worldwide racers. They can try to beat them or just pick up a few tips and tricks from studying the best. Those who beat the development team's ghosts will get cool stamps for use in Miiverse posts.
Items have been a key mechanic in Mario Kart since its beginning on the Super NES. A well-timed item can turn defeat into victory in an instant. An item new to the series with the release of Mario Kart 8 is the Super Horn. It literally blows away all other items by issuing forth a sonic shock wave that blasts away everything in the vicinity, including other drivers. The game also introduces the Crazy Eight, a swirl of eight different items that lucky players can use one by one.
Nintendo has also revealed two new playable female characters to bring the game's roster to an even 30. Making their series debut are heavyweight driver Pink Gold Peach and Baby Rosalina. As in past Mario Kart games, players can also choose to play as their Mii characters rather than one of the standard in-game ones.
For those who don't yet own a Wii U but want to play Mario Kart 8, Nintendo will release a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Set bundle on May 30. The bundle includes a Wii U Deluxe console, the game, a red Mario Wii Wheel accessory and a red Mario Wii Remote Plus controller. The suggested retail price for the bundle will be $329.99, $30 more than the Wii U Deluxe console on its own.
Gamers who already have a Wii U and buy the game will find a different perk waiting for them. Nintendo will give current Wii U owners who register the game with a Club Nintendo voucher to download one of four games - New Super Mario Bros. U, Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD or Wii Party U - from the Nintendo eShop for free.
Mario Kart 8 is rated "E for Everyone" by the ESRB.