Mario Kart 8 director Kosuke Yabuki has told IGN that while there was a small amount of item customisation in Mario Kart 7, Mario Kart 8 will ultimately expand on this. Mario Kart 8 producer Hideki Konno also explained that item balance, and importantly game balance, is something that the team look very, very closely at and place a lot of value on. Here’s what they both had to say.
“There was some item customization in Mario Kart 7, in that you could choose to have a mushroom-only race or shell-only race. We’re going to have that plus a little bit more, actually, in Mario Kart 8.”
“I think we’re going to be able to answer that feeling of, ‘I don’t want to race with items.’ Well, OK, then no items. Or, ‘I only want to have bananas.’ Well, OK. I think we’re going to be able to provide a system to answer that desire this time around.”
“We’re going to have some rule customization for folks who want to be able to go in and set that up for themselves.” But he also stressed that a lot of thought goes into what items are available to players by default.”
“Game balance is a really important element of Mario Kart that we look very, very closely at and place a lot of value on,” Konno explained. “I think that item balance, from the time we start working on development, a thousand times, maybe even tens of thousands of times, we adjust that balance while we’re playing. At the end, we come up with what we hope or feel is a really good balance. It’s our strong hope that folks would want to play with the items as we have balanced them.”
“That feature is not random. It just doesn’t happen,” he said. “There is a lot of adjustment, and there is a lot of thought and effort put into that system and developing it in a way that actually promotes game balance. So I would hope people would understand that as well.”
“One of the things we actually hope for is that if you’re just playing on an off day, and you’ve lost a race or two. We hope that you step away going, ‘Oh well, I just didn’t feel it today. My luck wasn’t with me. Whatever the cause, it just wasn’t my day, but I’m going to come back and play again.’ And that’s sort of what we’re aiming for. We want people to feel that way when they step away, that they want to come back.”
All sounds good to me.