It’s no secret that a new Nintendo console will at some point bring us a new iteration of Mario Kart. The franchise has been a staple of my gaming life for as long as I can remember, starting with the Super Nintendo version and continuing on to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which is essentially a beefed up version of the game that released on the Nintendo Wii U three years ago.
The fundamental difference in regards to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch is that you can obviously play it anywhere, due to the portability of the Nintendo Switch. This is an absolute game changer, for me at least. It’s these short-burst type of Nintendo games that I want to take with me on the go. The ability to have 2-3 races during a short commute is perfect. In-fact, it’s one of the main reason I hardly played the game on Wii U. Turning my Wii U on to have a few online matches before dinner seemed like a major chore in comparison to the fact that you’re able to turn your Switch on and be racing within seconds.
Those that didn’t pick up the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8 are in for a massive treat. You’ve got 48 main courses including the DLC that released for the Wii U version. Honestly, this is Mario Kart’s brilliant level design at its absolute best. Every single course is dynamic and different and will never play the same twice. It keeps things fresh and ensures that a smart racer can find their way back into a race, no matter what.
There’s 42 racers in the game including new characters such as Inkling Girl and Inkling Boy from Splatoon as well as King Boo, Dry Bones and Bowser Junior. I appreciate the fact that Nintendo made added these characters, but a few new tracks definitely would have been nice.
Everything is unlocked from the start, which most people will like, but I actually would’ve preferred to have to work to unlock all the characters and DLC. I want a reason to go back and play all of these courses again in single-player mode and the prize of unlocking new characters and courses would have done that.
A lot of the changes in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are more subtle, but all work together to completely change the game. For instance, you can now hold two items at any time, which means that you’ll almost always have an item at your disposal. I felt like I was getting hit with red shells more than any other Mario Kart game. This made me feel like I was always in the race, and the perfect two item pickup could take me from 8th into 1st. The Mario Kart gods have brought back the Boo item which allows you to steal items and the feather which allows you to jump higher. Both negligible items, but always good to see classics return.
The control options in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are endless. You’re able to play in portable mode, use two Joy-Con controllers to play in tabletop mode or enjoy 1080p/60fps action on the TV. They are all completely viable, but there was something engaging about being able to hold the Switch in front of my face and really focusing on the race.
One of the best parts of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the addition of Smart Steering. I love playing Mario Kart with my younger families members and my partner, but they obviously can’t match my mad skills. Smart Steering as well as auto acceleration changes this. It allows more novice gamers to stay on track, especially considering Mario Kart 8 is quote intense in terms of track design. It allows them to enjoy the game without spending hours upon hours learning each track or falling too far behind and giving up.
I’ve spent more time with Mario Kart 64’s battle mode than potentially any other game in history, but every subsequent Mario Kart has failed to deliver an addictive battle mode, until now. Building on the abysmal battle mode of Mario Kart 8, you’ve now got five modes including an improved Balloon Battle as well as Bob-omb Blast, Shine Thief, Coin Runners and Renegade Roundup. It’s still not as good or addictive as Mario Kart 64, but there’s something here for everyone, and with a group of friends, you’re bound to have a good amount of fun.
I was pleasantly surprised with just how well online works in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It was never an issue in the Wii U version, but due to the uncertainness around the Nintendo Switch online infrastructure, you’ll be happy to know that getting into an online match and managing to stay connected is an absolute breeze.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the perfect follow up to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It’s fun regardless of whether you’re playing alone, with friends on the couch or taking the race online. It lends itself perfectly to the portability of the Nintendo Switch and there’s just enough new content to warrant a purchase for those that owned the original game on the Nintendo Wii U.