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New 'Mario Kart 8' characters and items revealed

We're only a month away from the release of Mario Kart 8, which will be launching exclusively for the Wii U. Nintendo uploaded a surprise Nintendo Direct earlier today, in the style of several fake TV shows and infomercials, that helped explain some of the game's core features for fans who may not have been following the latest trailers and previews. The presentation also covered a couple of the mystery items that had been hinted at previously.

Iwata introduces 'Mario Kart 8'
Photo courtesy of Nintendo, used with permission

Two of the items shown off today, the boomerang flower and Piranha Plant, had already been shown in previous trailers. Players can use the boomerang to strike their enemies as they throw it, or as the item returns to them. It can be used up to three times. The Piranha Plant is a held item that aggressively chomps at players or hazards (such as banana peels), while offering the user a small speed boost.

As for the first mystery item, the “super horn” can be used to create a shock wave that knocks out any opponents within radius. It can also repel red and green shells, as well as the infamous blue shell (which always targets the player in first place). The second new item is the “crazy 8,” which gives players eight random items at once. This item, like its Mario Kart 7 equivalent, will most likely be reserved for players who are struggling to catch up.

Only two new characters were discussed during today's video, in addition to the seven Koopalings that were announced some time ago. Baby Rosalina and “Pink Gold Peach” will join the roster, rounding out the total to thirty playable characters (including the player's Mii). This marks the first time either of these characters have appeared, though the new Peach is simply a re-skin, much in the same way that Metal Mario is to regular Mario.

Mario Kart 8 will be released for the Wii U at $59.99 on May 30th. A Wii U bundle, which includes a special Wii Remote and racing wheel, will also be available for $329.99.