Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review

The Fate of the Kart

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Nintendo Switch is the nitro-filled version compared to the original game on Wii U. With the fan favorite Battle Mode making a triumphant return, all the DLC included, and several new playable characters, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is right at home on Nintendo Switch.

Nearly three years ago, we reviewed Mario Kart 8 and said the following:

“Mario Kart 8 is clearly a refinement of all the best things of Mario Kart. If you own a Wii U and are part of the 67% that hasn’t picked it up, go change your mind. If you don’t own a Wii U, also consider changing your mind. While the game isn’t perfect by any means, it is the gold standard of party games (online and on the couch) and should not be missed by anyone that is a fan of video games”

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe continues this stellar tradition as the gold standard of party games, especially with the versatility that Nintendo Switch offers. With all 48 tracks and 42 characters available from the start, players of all abilities can simply load up and face their friends (or foes). Customizations with your vehicles, however, gradually unlock through gameplay. I was happy to see that there was some sort of rewards system through playing. Unlocking a vehicle part after a Grand Prix was shockingly exciting enough to try it out and determine whether I would use it in the future. Experimenting with a new character like Splatoon Boy, or a returning character new to the deluxe version like King Boo, was a fun adventure to determine which combinations of players and vehicle parts worked best for my own playstyle.

The beauty of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe continues to be a massive marvel like the previous iteration. From the glimmers of a Super Star to the expression of Luigi staring down competitors – all of it somehow looks better than the Wii U version. The tracks themselves also have a wonderful polish. Racing through the remade tracks (Yoshi Valley for instance) was a beautiful race down memory lane – something I’m sure older fans can appreciate.  The game continues to run perfectly, whether docked or in handheld, and presents no dip in substantial quality.  It is worth noting that the framerate does dip from 60fps to 30fps in split screen mode with more than 2 players, though it hardly detracts from the enjoyment of the game. The jazzy melodies to each of the tracks also kept me from lowering the volume and even encouraged me to replay some races just to hear the theme once more.
The newly introduced Battle Mode is by far the largest addition for players to consider when checking the deluxe version. Within the ballot of five modes, players must strategically compete with each other over eight different arenas to complete the specific goal-oriented activity. Balloon Battle, tasks players to strategically use various items to pop enemy balloons for points. Shine Thief, offers a fun cat-and-mouse objective to hold a Shine Sprite while other players try to take it from you. Similar to Balloon Battle, Bob-Bomb Blast only arms players with, well, Bob-Bomb….cue the shenanigans. Coin Runners challenges players to simply collect coins, while also taking coins from enemies. Roundup Renegade is the only team-based mode, playing as cops and robbers but with karts. I found myself playing the classic Balloon Battle and Roundup Renegade over and over again on impulse and enjoyment. While the other three were fun, they just didn’t spin my wheels like the other two.

The online functionality continues the tradition of Nintendo’s lackluster experience, though it isn’t necessarily bad. The ability to join a match is quick and simple, but the communication with friends or newly created enemies is non-existent. Perhaps this will change with Nintendo’s future plan with online support, but for now, the experience is nothing to throw a parade at.

The true shining star of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is simply the ability to pick up a Joy-Con and play. This perfect scenario occurred last weekend with several friends who happened to have their own Nintendo Switch. With eight of us in attendance, we jokingly agreed to play some split screen matches on several Nintendo Switch, where we each split our screens. As a cohort of eight, we were quickly able to start a game and race against each other. Fast forward an hour and a half and we were all having a fantastic time. We all became Karen from the Switch commercial, and couldn’t have been happier about the experience. This was the moment I knew that Nintendo nailed co-op; not only in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but for Nintendo Switch as well.

The Verdict: 9.6 Out of 10

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe continues to be an amazing game, just like the original was three years ago. The included new additions and portability makes this the best and most fun entry in the Mario Kart series to date. Though the online capabilities are drier than Dry Bones, it’s quickly eclipsed by the sheer enjoyment with the couch co-op calamity.

Follow Harry Loizides, Editor-in-Chief, through his life of video games, obstacle races, and other adventures with Instagram, Twitter, and IGN.

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