No more hoggin'.
Unlike previous Mario Kart games, Mario Kart 8 will only let players carry one item at a time. This means no more snatching a second item while already having gained items floating around or dragging behind your kart. Take a look at our hands-on preview to see the changed item mechanic in action. We all have mixed feelings about this:
"I feel like this is a stupid change, although I kind of understand why they made it.
On the one hand, it means there will be fewer items careening around the course at any one time. On the other hand, that's kind of the point of Mario Kart. It's not a game-changer, but it will subtly influence how I play the game."
"It's an interesting decision. It ought to reduce item hoarding to keep yourself in first place, since you will no longer be able to employ the strategy of getting three green shells with another three in reserve. I like the change. It could even make the game more chaotic in the end."
"When I first heard the news, I wasn't happy, especially since in the E3 demo items worked the traditional way. The new items rules just seem to change something about Mario Kart that people haven't complained about. However, maybe it's for the best. With 12 racers on a track, it's possible that the developers found that item hoarding made the game too chaotic. I mean, imagine if all 12 racers had two items and they all decided to use them at approximately the same time. It would be pure hell.
Regardless, we probably won't know the full ramifications of the change until we get our hands on the final product. Only then can we truly judge the decision."
"Let's face it, item hoarding was a pretty unfair, even borderline cheating, tactic to begin with, and everyone did it without question. It was simply a fundamental style of play that everyone was used to as second-nature.
Despite every game in the series making significant additions or tweaks to the Mario Kart formula, people still complained that Nintendo is just releasing the same game over and over, and perhaps this is because core elements like item hoarding remained intact, making the overall experience feel like the same old thing.
I'm interested to see how this change plays out. It's bound to increase the challenge involved with an added need for careful item prioritizing. It might be a small step, but I'm happy that it's changing the way we play in a pretty big way."
"Any adjustment that adds more skill to a series that many claim features too much luck or imbalance through its use of items is a welcome change.
For the players leading the race, it becomes a greater challenge to block incoming attacks, but still very feasible to pull off - they would just need good timing to, as an example, place their banana behind them right as the Red Shell is about to strike their kart.
For the players in the lower positions in the race, either in the middle of the pack or further back, it encourages more vehicle-to-vehicle combat purely in terms of knocking into each other. If the racer nearby has a triple mushroom spinning around them, it would be a good feat of skill to swerve in, steal one of the mushrooms and earn a boost. Between this and the anti-gravity speed-boosting, it sounds like there will be a lot more 'bumper karting' in this game than before, which is a nice additional layer to the racing.
In short, this seems like a good way of improving how items are utilized. From another perspective, I would argue that people who accuse Nintendo of being slaves to tradition, only to then complain at this alteration to a classic formula, are the embodiment of a mixed message."
"I don't think it's as big of a deal to me than it would be to other people. I'm a casual player of the Mario Kart series, and I don't like the idea of no longer being able to stock up on items. I don't know why Nintendo changed something that's been happening in Mario Kart games for decades, but I guess the change is necessary. I think it might be a bigger issue for people who play it competitively or play it online. They'll have to change the way the play the game, and might choose other Mario Kart games over this one for competitive online play. I don't think the casuals will find it as bothersome as the hardcores, but it's a change I have to question."
"I think it's an interesting change that will turn Mario Kart 8 into more of a pure skill-based racing game. Not to the degree that it will upend the series, but in a way that subtly makes a game about item hoarding and protecting a lead into something that's more frantic. I'm intrigued to see how it changes strategy when playing this in single-player and multiplayer."