Mario Kart is in my blood. I have been a fan of this franchise ever since I was barely old enough to know how to use a controller as my brothers and I raced each other through the classic Mario Kart 64. I have played every entry in the Mario Kart series ever since, but never have I played an entry as excellent and well polished as Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it had great mechanics, course design, online, and most importantly it was fun as hell.
With the release of the Switch, Nintendo wants to give newcomers a taste at what excellent software that the Wii U had. Their first port (if you don't count Breath Of The Wild) is here: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. With this port of the excellent Wii U title, Nintendo adds new mechanics, characters, and the battle mode we all wanted, along with a few extra tweaks here and there.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is available now on Amazon for $59.99
If you've played Mario Kart before, then you probably don't need much info about its gameplay. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe contains all of the courses from the original game, plus all the DLC tracks and characters. The game also adds several returning and new characters to the roster including Bowser Jr., King Boo, Dry Bones, and even the Inklings from the Splatoon series.
Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses in racing, making them more than just cosmetics. Kart parts also return with several new additions. To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of having to build your kart, but I won't dock any points since the parts are varied and visually pleasing. Overall, a very solid roster of characters and vehicles to experiment with.
Nintendo also shows that they are in fact listening to their fans by adding the beloved battle mode. In the original Mario Kart 8, battle mode was a complete joke. Each battle was fought on existing race courses and was just a boring way to waste time. But now in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, we get a fully fleshed out battle mode with courses tailor made for the mode.
There are 5 battle types to choose from: classic Balloon Battle, Bob-omb Blast (essentially Balloon Battle but with only Bob-ombs), Shine Thief, Coin Runners, and the new mode Renegade Roundup (basically cops and robbers). Not all of these modes are that fun (coin runners just irritates me) but all can be enjoyed when playing with friends and family. You can also play all of these battle modes online both with strangers and in private lobbies with friends, allowing you to have that classic battle mode fun no matter where your opponents are.
Deluxe also adds a few new mechanics to the game. Double items are back for the first time since Mario Kart Double Dash, as well as double item boxes. If you're unfamiliar with this mechanic, basically all it does is allow you to carry two items at once, as well as access item boxes that will give you two items instead of just one. It's an overall small change, but it does make the player strategize a bit differently than how you would in the original Mario Kart 8. With the addition of an extra item slot, Nintendo also added two new items to the game. One is the Boo which will grab an opponent's item for you. It isn't the most useful item around, but it does provide great laughs when your friend has a red shell and you steal it right in front of him. The other new item, the feather, is exclusive to battle mode. This new item allows your character to perform a jump whereupon landing you'll get a boost. The jump will allow you to avoid hitting any hazards in your path, but I never found much use for it. It also puzzles me why this item is not included in the normal racing mode. Perhaps the developers found the feather to mess with balancing? Not sure, but it is a peculiar decision.
The online play has also been improved. Overall connectivity works better than the original. Nintendo also added the option to switch up your character and kart parts while still being in a lobby, making it less of a hassle when you want to switch your layout. Both public and private lobbies work great with very little connectivity issues. However, the online still lacks any sort of meaningful form of online interaction with people. There still is no voice or text chat to speak of in the game. Instead, we still have the pre-set phrases that were in the Wii U version. While it does allow us to avoid hearing little kids scream at the TV, it makes the game feel a little behind the times in terms of its online interactions.
The controls are just as tight and responsive as they were in the Wii U version of the game. There are some new "hand-holders" as I call them added with the controls. One of them allows players to stay on course without having to worry about falling off. This may sound OP, but this does prevent users from using shortcuts. You can also use automatic acceleration so you don't need to jam your thumb down on the A button for the entire race. And of course there are added motion controls for those who want them. I personally do not use these functions, but the auto steering will be useful if you have a child who is just getting into the game, or a parent who just doesn't get video games. Basically, if you're new to the game, these functions can be helpful, but they do hinder you when trying to attempt more advanced maneuvers.
Aside from all of these changes and additions, it's the same Mario Kart 8 that people got on the Wii U. You'll gain new kart parts by collecting coins and winning Grand Prix. Single player offerings are still a little light, but still somewhat enjoyable every now and then. But as always, both local and online multiplayer is where the most fun and laughter will be had.
Graphics & Sound
Without a doubt, this is the prettiest looking Mario Kart to date. Mario Kart 8 was already a good looking game, but the Switch definitely enhances the graphics. All of the courses look better than ever, as well as the character models. It's not the biggest leap in graphics, but enough to impress new players. Overall, a very pretty looking game.
The sound here is fantastic as well. Nothing sounds better than hearing the pleasant hum of your kart's engine right before a blue shell whooshes towards you, blows up in your face and makes you lose your 1st place position. There isn't anything here that'll wow you, but overall the sound design makes sense and never really has any hiccups. You can tell that the sound design and graphics have that classic Nintendo polish.
I can honestly say that the Switch now has 2 system sellers: Breath Of The Wild, and now Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Even if you own the Wii U version, I find that the enhancements made, as well as the portability of this title, make this version totally worth a purchase. With the new characters, item mechanics, and a true, robust battle mode, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will be ruining friendships in the best way possible for years to come.
|+ Same addicting Mario Kart gameplay||– Behind-the-times online communications|
|+ Added characters, mechanics, and battle mode|
|+ Stable online modes|
|+ Overall improvements over original|