The next big release for the Nintendo Switch has arrived in the form of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Mario Kart 8 is now playable on the go. Now, it’s true that this is just a prettier port of the Wii U game. But is it worth buying if you’ve already raced down these roads?
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes the best of every entry in the franchise and packs it all in one game. It also sports the largest cast of playable characters, including both the DLC characters and exclusives to the Deluxe edition. There are 42 to be exact. Notable additions include the inkling kids from Splatoon and Browser Jr.
Included are all the DLC tracks as well. A whopping 48 tracks. This time around, however, there are no race tracks exclusive to this version. We do get 4 new karts, though. Another new feature in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ability to hold 2 special items during races. 2 new items are also added, the boo returns and also a feather item which allows the player to perform a super jump.
The game also takes a more casual and novice player-friendly approach. It adds 2 new features, an auto-accelerate, which is self-explanatory. As well as a feature called smart steering which helps in making turns and is more than likely intended for children so they can stay on tracks. It is not personally recommended for veterans as the whole idea of keeping the player on the track can prevent you from taking shortcuts while racing.
The biggest addition and what I consider the most important feature that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe adds, is, of course, the LAN multiplayer. This allows for up to 8 Nintendo Switch consoles to be linked and used to compete in races and other game modes together. And it runs just as beautifully as one would hope. The game also has the added benefit of the Nintendo Switch being packed with 2 controllers at all times, you are given the ability to have 2 players play the game right from the go. These additions make this the most accessible and multiplayer focused entry to date.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe provides the standard Grand Prix we’re all used to. 4 tracks spread over 12 cups. We have the usual “speeds” or difficulties. 50, 100 and 150 cc. However, 8 gives us mirror mode which has the user race the tracks backward, and for the more intense player a 200cc. There is also, of course, time trials.
Those modes are also available for multiplayer play as well as VS mode. It’s a standard race, where each player picks a track and the game will randomly pick one. Rather than go through a whole cup of 4 races.
Arguably the biggest overhaul from the original is the Battle modes. Included are a total of 5 modes.
Balloon Battle – The classic “I’m gonna pop your balloon or steal it” style mode, however, the winner is determined by points this time around. Each player sports 5 balloons, and the player’s goal is to pop them and rack up points.
Renegade Roundup – Think “Cops & Robbers”, the players get split into 2 teams. “The Authorities” and “The Renegades”. In this mode, The Authorities have to race around and capture all The Renegades with the use of a Piranha plant. The Authorities win when all players get captured within the allotted time. On the flip side, The Renegades win if at least one player is still free when the time runs out. Whew. This mode is probably the most fun of the bunch and sets up some really intense and fun moments.
Shine Thief – In this mode, the goal is to hold on to an item called the shine which is basically a big ol star. It puts a giant target on you and you have to hold it for 20 seconds. In the meantime, all the other players will be able to use items to attack you and get their hands on your gold.
Coin Runners – “Have the most coins” not much else to say about this one. You race around and, well, try to get the most coins by the time the match is over.
Bob-omb Blast – This mode is the balloon battle, but with bob-ombs. You hit players to score points and you’re given the same 5 balloons. This mode had potential, but it just feels like balloon battle with a weapon filter.
The LAN works are as easy as you would think and you can even have a mix of multiple and single players on the Nintendo Switch for one big chaotic race. I had no hiccups playing this way and it ran beautifully. The online, however, is where the game suffers. As it can arguably be the most important feature. I was constantly dropped and had issues with maintaining a game. Also, there is no option to voice chat. Which could be attributed to Nintendo’s companion app. Which is nonsense when it’s not even available. Once the online woes get ironed out, this title is primed for perfection.
The game runs smoother than melting butter. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sports a 1080p resolution at 60fps when docked, and a 720p resolution when in portable mode. Every track, character model and kart looks absolutely stunning. The colors pop in all aspects. I honestly did not expect it to look this good much less in portable mode. There was no compromising in the graphics department when it came to making sure it ran and looked nicely in all modes. This is the best looking Mario Kart. Period.
In my opinion, this is the perfect Mario Kart game. I am absolutely in love with everything Nintendo has accomplished with this game. Now sure, it’s a port of a game that’s already lit. But can you take your Wii U with you? Can you link up for local races with other Wii owners? The Switch console fits in your backpack and you have the complete Mario Kart experience from the go. The multiplayer aspect has never been better. In the past, Nintendo always allowed you to play with others on portable consoles with a single cartridge. If everyone had their own consoles. This time around. 2 people can play on a single unit. On launch day my girlfriend, 2 of my friends and I all gathered up at a Starbucks and literally played LAN for hours. This is what the Nintendo Switch is all about. When random people walked by and had to double take as they realized what was going on. “Is that the Switch? Mario Kart? You’re all playing together?” This is it. You’ve done it, Nintendo.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a crucial piece to the puzzle Nintendo is attempting to put together with the Nintendo Switch. Unfortunately, online functionality leaves much to be desired and one of my 2 complaints. The second being less crucial, and that’s the removal of being able to unlock characters. It takes away from the sense of accomplishment just a tad bit. To just see the entire roster available and not gradually unlocked. Fortunately, however, there’s so much here… I honestly can dismiss it because there’s so much to praise. That said, it’s nearly the complete package in the sense that it’s THE game that’s going to showcase the benefit of the Switch always having 2 controllers. Let’s be real, if you played Mario Kart 8’s original release enough to unlock everything, you’ll find there’s something undeniably satisfying in challenging someone or being challenged to a race of Mario Kart and being able to settle it on the spot. It’s something I’ve been impatiently anticipating since it was showcased and it’s followed up on that promise.