Coins in Mario Kart 8

After 1 month, I’m finally done with summer camp! And while it was an awesome month, I’m glad to be back home, sitting at my computer and typing this blog post up. I was originally going to just do a little update, but I’ve been wanting to write about this since I left for camp: coins in Mario Kart 8.

I’ve enjoyed almost every game in the Mario Kart series since its inception, and Mario Kart 8 is the first one that I don’t really enjoy playing. I’ve only really played it once. There are a number of reasons why I don’t like this game (all gameplay related – the visuals and music are phenomenal, I think the biggest reason is the re-inclusion of coins from Super Mario Kart.

For those of you who don’t know, in Mario Kart 8 you can have up to 10 coins. These coins increase your maximum top speed as well as your boost speed. If you are hit or you fall off the map, you lose 3 coins. This opens up a couple problems right off the bat:

Speedier Karts/Bikes/Characters are better:

I love Toad. He’s one of my favorite Mario characters. However, he’s a light character, so he’s pretty slow. Normally, this is offset by having better acceleration and off road speed. With coins in play, having less coins than a speedier character/kart almost always results in me trailing farther and farther behind. Without coins at least I can try and get some items or do some skillful drifting to catch up, but that’s more difficult when you have 4 coins and they have 7 and are cruising on ahead considerably faster than you.

Rubber Banding (or same place syndrome):

Because of how significant the speed boost is from coins, the rubber banding from items is diminished in its effectiveness. Given two characters of same character and vehicle, one with 10 coins can go about the same speed as one with 0 coins and a Star/Mushroom. That’s absolutely ridiculous, and can sometimes lead to what I call Same Place Syndrome. Let’s say you’re in 2nd place, and you get hit with a red shell and a green shell at 10 coins. You now have 4, and people speed on by you with more coins. If this happens, you may find yourself in 6th/7th/8th place for the rest of the race. This has happened to me and a bunch of people I’ve observed playing a lot, and it’s incredibly frustrating when you feel like the items can’t help propel you forward just because you’ve got less coins.

Conversely, if you’re in first with 10 coins, sometimes you can rocket so far ahead of the pack (assuming they’re not collecting coins like you are) that being hit with two blue shells won’t even come close to putting you in 2nd, especially since one of the items you get commonly in first place are a coin item that gives you two coins.

The first lap becomes a coin collecting contest:

The first lap, I think, is pretty crucial. The players that collect more coins will stay at the top (unless combo’d hard by items), and those that don’t will find themselves struggling until they collect more for the whole race.

It’s disappointing that a game I was really looking forward to has, in my opinion, an awful mechanic for what the series stands for. It looks great, plays great (controls are amazing), and has a memorable soundtrack, but coins really take a lot of fun out of the game for me. I will say that I think coins are an amazing addition to Time Trials, as I think strategic collection of coins leads to increased depth in that area, but otherwise, coins need to go.

Just Sayin’.