When Mario Kart 8 first launched in 2014 on the Wii U, the battle mode within it was considered… not the best. It chose to stick with standard Balloon Battle rules, but replaced arenas for the racetracks to give a mode that was just confused in what it attempted.
Racers were scattered across the track, with the ability to do quick turns and drive the other way. Because of this, only certain few tracks were allowed to be within this mode, but such starting positions and rules didn’t give the mode a real reason for existing. There was no lasting appeal. It felt too bland in action.
However, there was a simple way to have fixed that, and such a thing was to treat it as a race but with special rules. Everyone starts at the line, beginning at the same time. Each has three balloons, that they need to protect as they race to complete the three laps. However, you can’t just stay at the back out of the action, as the aim is still to win the race.
Now, certain items would have to be disabled. Lightning strikes would be massively overpowered in such a mode, for example. The blue shell would also sprout wings and fly once again, just for this mode, so it would only take out first place (and those nearby foolish enough to stay that close).
Marathon tracks would be included as well as circuit track, but there would have to be some type of games restricted by the race format. An elimination type game wouldn’t work without a circuit, for example, or even a coin collection type game (at least for those that required a set amount to end the event).
Renegade Roundup would be a good mode for marathon tracks, what with it being a team-based survival event. The cops would still have to capture the robbers, with the robbers needing just one of their team to have crossed the finish line for them to win.
Since there’s no way for robbers to rescue teammates here, those who have been captured turn ghosted and work to distract the cops to help their team secure a victory, gaining a single green shell for use every five seconds.
This next game type is inspired by another game. F1 Race Stars has a mode called Refuel, where with less fuel you’ll go faster, but running out will drastically reduce your speed. While fuel as a concept in Mario Kart is non-existent, there is a method of boosting speed within the game.
Not the mushrooms, but the coins. With this game of Coin Boosters, racers would aim to collect a lot of coins to increase their speed – which would be more drastic than what is currently offered. Since coins are more important here than other modes, more of them will litter the track. Items can still knock them away, however, but at double the usual rate.
Another game mode that’s team-based for marathon tracks would be Shine Runners. Not as a collection-based game, but similar to Renegade Roundup. One team would have the shine sprites – one per member – and they’d have to get to the end of the race while still holding at least one.
The other team will be trying to stop the shine sprites from getting to their destination, and all it takes is one hit for the sprite to be removed from that player. It will shoot forward, and if collected by the aggressors, it will be out of the game. However, any runner who doesn’t hold a sprite can collect it to keep it within the game.
A game type I’d talked about in a previous article within this series was a game where you would get points for every action you take, with them increasing or decreasing depending on whether that action was positive or negative. Hitting an opponent would be a positive action, while getting hit yourself would be a negative.
Score Chasers would be available for solo and team play, with the points being combined while in team play. After the end of the race, it’s a simple case of who had the most points built up. For circuit races, there would be a set limit that needs to be reached, while marathon races would just be highest points at the end of the race wins.
These are just some ideas for adding new things with the Race Battles. There’s obvious parallels with regular battle modes, with some sort of representation coming from Balloon, Coin, Shine, and - new with 8 Deluxe - Renegade. The obvious omission is Bob-omb, but that’s purely because such is already able to be done by just restricting the races to that item.
Bob-ombs, like bananas, are also awkward to centre a mode around them, owing to their mostly static use. Sure, Bob-omb Blast – at least in Double Dash – was massively hectic fun, but it’s never really been replicated in a satisfactory way. And with that mostly stationary function, how can a Race Battle have them be a core focus?
By changing how they work, or at least introducing a special one that works a bit differently. A free-for-all game on marathon tracks, each player has one Bob-omb. Rather than throwing it upon use, however, it will unleash a massive explosion that will spin out anyone who gets caught in it.
This isn’t a regular race, either, as being within the pack is necessary to claim the most hits on people. And it’s not like you can spam the Bob-omb to get unlimited explosions. Whenever it gets used, it goes into a cooldown of fifteen seconds before it can be used again. That means you’ll have to be strategic in using it, as you won’t get a chance if you continuously get spun out.
That’s six Race Battles, then, each with its own focus. Getting a third mode into Mario Kart that manages to do what MK8 tried and failed to implement would go some way to show such a concept can work. There are others, pulling from a wide variety of games, that could be implemented to such a mode.
However, I’ve talked enough here, with these six ideas being more than enough to fit within a future Mario Kart. After all, 8 Deluxe only has five battle modes, so if all six of these were implemented there would be double the amount of modes available.
I wouldn’t want to stop anyone from giving other ideas, though, so what sort of race battles would you like to see within a future Mario Kart game?