Nintendo Switch finally received its second AAA title this month with the re-release of Mario Kart 8, retitled Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. You’re wondering if it’s worth double-dipping. Well, the short answer is yes and I’ll tell you why.
I’m not going to go into extreme detail with this review because it’s still Mario Kart 8 at its core, and if you’ve had any interest in the game since it originally launched on the Wii U, chances are you’ve played it and you understand the basic mechanics. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe features all 32 tracks that were available in the previous version, plus the 16 DLC tracks that were available for extra fees. There’s also a revamped battle mode with various game types including Coin Runners and Bob-omb Blast which was originally playable in Mario Kart: Double Dash. Plus, a couple items return from the past including the feather, which is available only in battle mode, and Boo, who seems to appear in all modes and allows you to steal an item from a randomly picked player. Finally, six new characters join the fun including some Splatoon characters, along with three new Splatoon-inspired karts.
The gameplay mechanics haven’t really changed from the Wii U version, and it still features drift boosting, gliding, and underwater driving. Not necessarily a new feature to the series, but definitely to MK8, is the ability to carry two items at once…definitely a fantastic decision by the team. However, if you’re in first place, you can almost always expect one of your items to be coins. One thing that I feel I’ve noticed, and some other players feel the same way is that the AI in MK8 Deluxe seems slightly more aggressive than it was in the original release. This is especially noticeable when playing the in 150cc or higher class, and I’ve personally had moments where I’m hit by a either a red or blue shell, then 3-4 other items in quick succession. I’ve gone from a potential first place finish all the way to 9th, all the while the finish line is only 20 feet away from my grasp. It’s tough, and sometimes unfair, but ever since the introduction of the blue shell, Mario Kart shifted from a mostly skill-based game to luck-based.
Multiplayer is fantastic on the Switch version of Mario Kart, since you can easily remove your joycons and have a two player match anytime, anywhere. The controllers are a tad small but you can use the optional included attachment bars to make them a little more comfortable, but even with medium-sized hands I can play using the standard joycon turned sideways. Wireless play mode is seamless and I’ve spent over 10 hours playing with a friend without any hiccups or disconnects. We play at home, at work, and we’ve set them up right on a table at a restaurant… it’s fantastic and fun. Not to mention, we’ve sparked a fair bit of interest amongst people who aren’t familiar with the Switch, and a couple people instantly fell in love once they saw the capability of the system and the quality of fun that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers on-the-go.
When it comes to online multiplayer, Nintendo isn’t exactly leading the pack. That being said, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe seems to run extremely well. You can quickly load into matches, sometimes getting to watch the action of a race in progress, or just getting to the selection screen to choose your character, kart, and select your vote on a map. In the Wii U version, Wild Woods showed up as one of the available options almost 90% of the time… luckily that’s no longer the case. From the 6-8 hours I’ve spent online so far, I’ve seen a fair amount of variety in the maps and I’ve never seen any single option coming up too often.
To sum it all up, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers more than enough content to warrant a new purchase. The portable multiplayer feature alone is a huge selling point. New characters, karts, battle modes, and the extra item slot are all welcome additions to the game and they act as icing on the cake to an already fantastic game. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has easily taken over 35 hours of my time in the past two weeks, and I can safely say this is my favorite entry in the franchise.
More items, more modes, and more characters into an already amazing mix of fun and frustration. What else can you ask for?
Colours are a tad bit sharper than the Wii U version, and maps are brilliantly-designed and full of cool stuff to see.
DK Jungle, Baby Park, Hyrule Circuit, Sunshine Airport, Shy-Guy Falls. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing the soundtrack is in this game. It'll stick with you even when you're not in the game.