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That dream of telling online Mario Kart opponents to eat your dust could soon become a reality.

Early this morning, YouTube user Doctre81 [h/t Nintendo News] discovered an interesting feature on the Mario Kart 8 eShop page: something called “Game Chat,” which hasn’t been mentioned by Nintendo previously, and doesn’t show up in any marketing materials. The feature is only mentioned once on the eShop page, as well — as an item in the “Supports Online Play” section.

“Game Chat” wasn’t listed on the Mario Kart 8 page when it first went live; this is a new addition. And if it turns out to be what Nintendo fans have been clamoring for — voice chat during online gameplay — it would be the first Mario Kart title with this capability.

It really can’t come soon enough.

Nintendo hasn’t used the Internet particularly well over the past few generations, at least as far as online gaming goes. Support has shown up in certain titles — Animal Crossing and Pokemon come to mind — but these integrations were made rather clunky thanks to “friend codes” and the lack of a system-wide chat feature.

With the Nintendo Network ID, Nintendo seems to have a more solid solution in place should it want to expand its online services to PSN or Xbox Live levels.

Voice chat for Mario Kart 8 could indicate a step in the right direction for Nintendo, which has typically gone its own way with console feature sets. The truth is, a lot of people play online games, these days, and a good bit of them communicate with their friends and opponents using voice chat. Without voice or any other way to communicate, you might as well be playing a total stranger, or the AI.

That’s not the kind of social gaming experience that will sell a game or a console. And Nintendo needs sales, desperately. Perhaps a little Mario Kart 8 voice chat will help?

Mario Kart 8 is scheduled to release in the U.S. on May 30.


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