Critical Play: Is This Game Balanced? (Wilmer Zuna)

For this critical play, I’ll be analyzing Mario Kart Deluxe 8.

Some important information about the game:

  • Name: Mario Kart 8
  • Creator: Nintendo
  • Platform: Wii U, Nintendo Switch
  • Target Audience: Family game

Overall, the game relays really great competitive and collaborative gaming experiences. The important formal elements of the game, from my perspective are:

  • Objectives: The game is of car race types. The goal for players are to get to the end of their respective races first in order to accumulate points, which can be systemized to determine the ranking of the players per round or game.
  • Outcomes: In the outcome, Mario Kart 8 is of non-zero sum state. For instance, when a race ends, whether it be a single race or a cup, players in the top spots are granted a win – 1st, 2nd and 3rd order players are winners.
  • Rules: Players must stay on the course and race path, otherwise system will nudge/redirect player to start from earlier place when player was on the race path.
  • Procedures: In a race, players are placed in an initially random order to later place first players or players of higher ranking in higher placements on the race court. Once the timer sets off, players must go around the race court in the specified number of rounds before determining the placement of players based on ranking.
  • Resources: Players have access to power-ups that come in the form of dice along portions of the race, these power-ups offer players a variety of tools that can either boost their performance or hinder the performance of other players.

  • Players: Mario Kart 8 can take on multiple player roles. If playing as a single-player, then the game is Player vs. Game. If playing in multiplayer, then the game becomes Multiplayer Co-Op.

Connecting to course concept, I praise Mario Kart 8 as a balanced game. As a single-player game, the challenges provided are at appropriate levels per audience, where the system helps players if they are steering away from the intended game mechanics. As for the multiple paths, Mario Kart 8 still is balanced, given that, mainly due to the resources, but also due to the choices in combinations of cars, wheels, and paraglides, players can develop at least one strategy to be better/worse than others.

As mentioned again, this game is awesome and I’m super excited to see further DLC packages coming this summer!

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