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Today the first reviews for Mario Kart 8 hit the web. Is this the kart racing game Wii U gamers have been waiting for?

The dozens of reviews published so far for Mario Kart 8 have been favorable. The game's currently sitting at a Metacritic rating of 89. For basis of comparison, Mario Kart DS had a rating of 91 while Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart Wii had an 83 and 82, respectively. Metacritic's far from scientific (who the hell didn't like Mario Kart 64?) but the point is, critics don't think the game's a trainwreck. It may actually be one of the best entries in the series so far.

The reviewers do admit that much of the usual Mario Kart formula remains intact. They describe the game as the "same old thing" and say that "Nintendo isn't really trying to bring us something new here." You might be disappointed if you're hoping for a new-gen reinvention of the series, then.

Still, critics were happy with the changes that Mario Kart 8 brings. The HD graphics were called gorgeous by more than one review. The anti-gravity sections of races where the track bends sideways or upside-down were also praised, though more for the visuals than their effect on gameplay. New items like the soundhorn, which can defend you from a blue shell, were welcome additions to the usual collection of power-ups.

Many had a problem with the revised Battle Mode, though. Battle Mode traditionally let players duke it out in special arenas. Now this game type simply uses modified versions of the race courses. The new Battle Mode is described as "slightly lazy" and an "afterthought."

A few excerpts from reviews are below. As usual, I tried to include a few positive and few negative reviews to give you a more well-rounded perspective of the game.

"It may not be revolutionary, but it adds just enough to pique interests while keeping the core experience we’ve all grown up with, regardless of age. Mario Kart is one of those timeless franchises that every age group can enjoy, and sometimes, that’s enough to celebrate." - God is a Geek

"It’s a tremendous amount of fun really – but it’s not all good. The package as a whole is a little bare, offering the standard 4 race Grand Prix, Time trials, customisable VS races and the balloon-popping battles that have become standard. The battles have taken a step backwards. Instead of the battle-specific arenas that would funnel players towards each other, battles now take place in stripped down versions of a selection of the game’s race tracks, so it’s become a case of racing around until you manage to see somebody long enough to hit them with something." - Lazy Gamer

"I like playing Mario Kart 8. I think it’s a satisfactory entry in the series, but nothing more. The final package ends up feeling like someone who covers themselves in makeup to hide the fact that they are 10 years older than they are pretending to be." - Nintendo World Report

"The new art direction and stunning visuals really go a long way to showing off every nuance of every level, and I'd go so far as to say that it's one of the best-looking games out there right now on any system. It sports insane details like particle effects, and the little things like headlights that turn on when you're in dark rooms. Sometimes I'll look in the rear view mirror just to get a glimpse of more track while going off jumps, which I've never done before in any Mario Kart." - Destructoid

"Putting a number on the Mario Kart series may have been a mistake. Nothing makes a game franchise feel long in the tooth as a high number at the end. Mario Kart 8 naturally raises the issue of its age, and with it come questions of whether the series is just driving in circles. But while this entry doesn't reinvent the wheel, it shows a playful spirit, refinement, and attention to detail that has been missing in the last few entries." - Shack News

"There’s a rudimentary ranking system, and it’s easy to hop into matches against players from around the world, but like the other modes available, it’s incredibly spartan. What’s here looks, plays, and feels fantastic, but it’s 2014, and we expect more than just handful of options and tracks to race on. There’s no persistent game-wide ranking or levelling system, characters and new kart options are unlocked seemingly arbitrarily, and there’s no career mode to speak of. The only impetus driving you to compete is your own desire to race on the same 32 tracks over and over again. There is a purity to that, but something just feels… missing." - Gaming Trend

Though reviews are already here, Mario Kart 8 isn't in stores just yet. The game will launch in North America and Europe on May 30th.

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