Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch is a turbocharged version of Mario Kart 8 that was released back in 2014 for the Wii U.  However is there enough new content here to justify the purchase on the Nintendo Switch for those who have played the Wi U version previously?

Gameplay

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is essentially a kart racer featuring your favourite Nintendo characters such as Yoshi, Luigi, Baby Bowser, Daisy and more.  In fact there are now 42 characters to play as and all are immediately unlocked, however there is so much more to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe than just its character selection screen.  Your objective in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is simple, burn rubber hard and fast and scoot around the track in the fastest time possible, while avoiding banana peels, blue shells, lightning strikes and much more.  Traditionally Mario Kart has eased you in smoothly with its patented three class system, that’s 50cc, 100cc and 150cc.  50cc is a much slower pace designed as a starting point for most gamers.  From there, 100cc and 150cc ramp up the speed and difficultly as your AI opponents seriously step up their driving skills.  Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also offers Reverse mode and 200cc all immediately accessible from the word go.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also offers a host of different cups to race in and Nintendo hasn’t really strayed from the traditional formula that includes Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup, Special Cup, Shell Cup, Banana Cup, Leaf Cup and Lightning Cup.  Every format is acknowledged in these cups, from the SNES to the N64, GameCube to the Wii and the DS to the 3DS.  All up there is a solid 32 different tracks that you can race on.  On top of this is an additional 16 tracks, taking the tally up to 48 circuits thanks to the inclusion of the DLC tracks as well, and again they are all unlocked from the word go.

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All of your favourite characters are here as well and again, you guessed it there all unlocked from the word go.  There are new characters that you can earn including Bowser Jr and the Inklings from Splatoon, so there is an incentive to play to unlock these new characters.  In terms of gameplay, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is brilliant and as you would expect it plays perfectly and is a true gem to have in your collection.  However, a new edition called Smart Steering is a new feature to help novice gamers stay on the road.  It’s a little annoying for seasoned players as it essentially forbids you from going off road, so ensure you turn the feature off which is unfortunately set to on by default. However, I do understand the reason why this is on and it does help Mario Kart be more accessible to all gamer types irrespective of their skill level.

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So far, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is everything Mario Kart 8 is complete with all the DLC.  However, what makes Mario Kart 8 Deluxe different is its revamped Battle mode. Nintendo has now included a host of new modes, 5 to be exact for your gaming pleasure.  There is Balloon Battle, Bob-omb Blast, Renegade Roundup. Coin Runners and Shine Thief, each offering its own unique take and ideas, but my favourite is still Balloon Battle. Each of these modes can be played across 8 battle courses, a significant increase over the Wii U version.

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Other changes to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ability to have two special item slots as opposed to just one.  Some may argue it’s not a real big deal, however I disagree.  Having two slots allows you to hold onto a special item and still use other items which is a good thing.  Also, sometimes you can get lucky as I did and pick up 3 red shells and 3 green shells, which certainly helped me move up the leader board quite quickly as I took full advantage of so many shells in my arsenal.  This sort of change does change the way you play as well as cause twice as many items to litter the road and or strike you when you least expect it.  Personally, I like the change and feel it adds a further element to the games experience.

Multiplayer

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe like any of its predecessors shines when playing with friends, whether locally or via online infrastructure.  This time though, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe can also be played via wireless system link if your friends are nearby.  This is a real positive thing especially given the portability of the Nintendo Switch console and should be another reason for gamers to invest in the Nintendo Switch which is great to see.  Mario Kart 8 Deluxe features its core online multiplayer mode for up to 12 players and the menu system is identical to that of the Wii U which was basic, but functional and worked well.  However, it would have been nice to see the Nintendo Switch’s first online game to function with other online features such as party chat, game invites and party matches and races with your friends, however that online service is yet to exist which is a shame.   In terms of my actual race time online, although minimal it functioned flawlessly and was lag free and no hiccups to report which is nice for a change.

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Graphics & Sound

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks absolutely brilliant and is full of vibrant colours and is bursting with life.  The environments on all the tracks look spectacular and are filled with every detail you could imagine, even down to the birds that have landed on the not too distant track that fly away as your kart nearly ploughs through them.  Mario Kart 8 Deluxe runs at a solid 1080p / 60fps in docked mode and drops down to 720p in portable tablet mode and no matter which mode you play in, the experience is silky smooth.  In terms of audio, Mario Kart 8 is filled with classic tunes, remastered originals and all of your favourite character’s personalities rolled into this one great package.  From the bubbly tropical music that plays on Cheep Cheep Beach to the deep and dark music that haunts you in Bowsers Castle, the music is extremely enjoyable.

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Overall

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a brilliant racing game that still delivers in every way possible.  There is a tremendous amount of value here in the Nintendo Switch version and there are enough changes to warrant those who owned the Wii U version to jump back in.  A bigger and better Battle mode is the main crux of the majority of the changes here, but even so it’s just an amazing racer that is perfect for on the go. 

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Written by

Paul Barbara

I'm 40, been an avid gamer since I was 5 (1981) and owned almost all systems possible in that time. I love podcasting, having produced over 230 episodes over the last 6 years and I get a real buzz out of discussing all this gaming news with other gamers. So tune in!

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