Definitive version of Mario Kart 8 is here
After speeding onto Wii U in 2014, the definitive version of Mario Kart 8 has arrived on Nintendo Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is bigger and better in every way: improved graphics and gameplay, extra characters, items and karts, a new Battle Mode, and more ways to play. It also includes all the DLC from the Wii U version, including the Mercedes-Benz, The Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing content!
This is, without a doubt, the greatest Mario Kart game of all time.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has flawless gameplay
MK8 Deluxe‘s gameplay builds on the incredible foundation set by the groundbreaking Wii U version. The game’s most innovative feature—anti-gravity racing—is back and just as exhilarating as before. Returning as well is ability to soar through the air using gliders, and race through water using propellers.
How all these varied terrains come together to form a seamless racing experience is perhaps MK8 Deluxe‘s greatest achievement. One minute you’ll be dashing along the Mario Circuit speedway, the next you’ll be plunging straight down Shy Guy Falls. The smoothness of the gameplay is impeccable, no matter if you’re racing on land, air, water, or upside-down.
Driving assistance for those who need it
Like past Mario Kart games, races can be played at three different speeds: slow 50cc, moderate 100cc, and fast 150cc. MK8 Deluxe also includes the hyper fast 200cc engine class DLC for those who want a supreme racing challenge. I consider myself a veteran racer, but even I’m still trying to get a handle on this faster mode!
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Fortunately, to make all racing classes more accessible, Nintendo has included a new Smart Steering option. This puts an antenna on the back of your kart that detects edges and helps keep you on the track. Additionally, you can turn on Auto Acceleration for assistance with braking and gas.
Combined, these two assist features level the playing field and allow novices to compete head-to-head with more advanced players. The features also come in real handy for ultra-tough courses like Rainbow Road that have almost no guardrails. It’s great to see Nintendo improving accessibility, allowing everyone to have a great time regardless of skill level.
MK8 Deluxe boasts tons of new content for new and returning fans to enjoy. To begin with, there are six new characters and 42 total, the largest ever for a Mario Kart game. The new racers include three returning from past games (King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr.) along with new characters Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl. Gold Mario is also new, and unlockable if you meet specific game conditions.
Personally, I’m really excited to have Dry Bones back as he’s been my favourite character since his debut in Mario Kart DS. Splatoon fans will also be happy to know the Inklings come in three palette swaps each, just like in the game. Also, the two Animal Crossing Villagers are now separate characters, instead of character variants like in the Wii U version. What’s cool about that change is now you can compete against the boy and girl Villager in the same race!
MK8 Deluxe also introduces three new vehicles, two of which are inspired by Splatoon. First, you get the Koopa Clown, Bowser’s iconic vehicle in Super Mario World and last seen in Mario Kart 7. Next, there’s two Splatoon-themed ATVs, the Splat Buggy and Ink Striker.
Since the game includes all previously released DLC that means you also get the Mercedes-Benz, The Legend of Zelda, and Animal Crossing karts. These include the Mercedes-Benz GLA luxury SUV, Link’s Master Cycle, and the cute beetle-shaped Animal Crossing Streetle. In all, you get more than 40 karts, bikes, and ATVs to choose from!
One of the more exciting aspects of MK8 Deluxe is the return of two fan-favourite items. The first is Boo, the item-stealing ghost that snatches an item from the nearest racer. This item is especially handy when you’re towards the back of the pack where racers tend to pick-up powerful items like the Star and Bullet Bill.
Secondly, the Feather is back, enabling you to high jump over shells or access shortcuts. I’m really happy to see this item back, but it’s too bad it’s limited to Battle Mode (more on that shortly.) It would have been nice to see the Feather come into play during races as a counter to those heat-seeking red shells.
Even bigger than those item additions is the ability to now carry two items at the same time. This opens up huge new gameplay possibilities such as hitting characters with consecutive shells, or launching bananas and fireballs at the same time. To create even more chaos on the racetracks, Double Item Boxes from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! make their comeback. Hitting these will give you two items at once—plenty of ammunition to make headway in the race!
Revamped Battle Mode
As much as I loved the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8, it had one glaring down side: it’s battle mode wasn’t fun. The battles took place on Gran Prix racetracks and interactions with other racers were few and far between.
Nintendo has completely fixed this for the Switch version with the re-introduction of arena-style maps. Maps range from classics like SNES’ Battle Course 1 (yes!) and GameCube’s Luigi’s Mansion (double yes!), to all-new ones like the Splatoon-inspired Urchin Underpass. In all, you have eight battle arenas and they are amazing.
As for the modes, there are plenty to choose from. To start, there’s classic Balloon Battle where your objective is to pop your opponent’s balloons while protecting your own. Next, the explosive Bob-omb Blast returns, a mode which limits items to just bombs. Thirdly, Coin Runners has everyone race around the map collecting as many coins as they can. The fourth mode, Shine Thief, is a highly competitive mode where you must retrieve a Shine Sprite and try to hold it for 20 seconds.
There’s also a fifth, all-new mode called Renegade Roundup that’s basically a version of the children’s game cops and robbers. To begin, teams are divided into “The Authorities” (cops) and “The Renegades” (robbers). Authorities have a permanent, potted Piranha Plant on the hood of their car, and their goal is to gobble up the robbers. Captured foes are then placed inside a jail cell, usually near the centre of the maps. The Renegades’ objective is to dodge the Authorities for a set amount of time, and they can also spring captured crook from jail by driving over a button. Overall, I had a blast with this new mode and loved how frantic it was!
For fans of the Wii U version, the return of classic Battle Mode is reason enough to pick up this game for a second time. It’s so fun, and playing with friends is a total riot. Plus, you can go online for even more mayhem!
Multiple ways to play
The icing on the cake for MK8 Deluxe is how many different ways you can play it. Here’s a quick rundown:
- TV Mode – Connect your Switch to its dock and play at home on your big screen. This mode supports up to four players via split-screen. When docked, the graphics will output at full 1080p resolution. In other modes, resolution switches to 720p.
- Tabletop Mode – Flip the built-in stand and two can play on the tablet screen, each using one Joy-Con controller held horizontally. You can also connect to another Switch console wireless for 4-player action.
- Handheld Mode – Undock the console and attach the Joy-Con controllers and go fully portable.
- Wireless Play – Play with up to eight friends over a local wireless connection, with each person using their own Switch console.
- Online Play – Go online and compete with racers from around the world.
- LAN Play – For the ultimate Mario Kart party, up to 12 players can play using a LAN connection.
Whew, that’s a lot of ways to play! So far I’ve tried every mode aside from LAN Play, and they all work great. The versatility is incredible to say the least. No matter if you’re playing alone at home, at a party with friends, or on-the-go, you can bring the MK8 Deluxe experience with you.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a triumph. Following the amazing Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this is the next must-have game for your Nintendo Switch. Nintendo has built upon the phenomenal Mario Kart 8 experience with new characters, karts, items, and modes. The return of classic Battle Mode is the real highlight and easily doubles the replay value. Add in all the DLC from the Wii U version and you have an astounding 42 characters, 48 courses, and 40 karts. This is simply the best Mart Kart game in existence, and that’s saying a lot.
+ Beautiful 1080p graphics in TV mode
+ Huge roster of characters
+ Battle Mode has made its comeback
+ So many ways to play
+ New driver assist features
+ Lots of new content
+ Includes all past DLC
+ One of the greatest racing games ever
– If you own the Wii U version and all DLC your mileage may vary
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5