Developed by Nintendo EAD Published by Nintendo of America Reviewed on Nintendo Switch
I love the Switch, but there is a lack of games available. Luckily Nintendo decided to port Mario Kart 8, one of the best Wii U titles, to the Switch. They also improved an already near perfect game. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe gives you the full Mario Kart experience, including the core game, all previously released DLC, and a new and improved Battle mode.
If you have ever played a Mario Kart game before you know what to expect. This is a fast paced kart racer. You will race on unique tracks where your goal is to be first at any cost necessary…this includes mercilessly pummeling every other player with wacky weapons to gain the lead. Deluxe includes modes like Grand Prix, Time Trials, VS Race, and Battle. Grand Prix will have you face off against other racers across 12 cups for a total of 48 tracks. Time Trial lets you test your skills to try to beat a ghost racer of your own or a friend. VS Race lets you customize a race to your liking. Battle lets you fight against other racers in arenas with an assortment of different rules. All these mode, with the exception of Time Trials, can be played in Solo or Multiplayer locally on one Switch using split screen. There is also Online and Wireless Play. Both modes allow you to play VS Race or Battle either in an online lobby or locally using multiple Switches.
So, what makes Mario Kart 8 Deluxe…deluxe? First off, they added two item boxes. You can now carry two items at all times, adding a new strategy to the game. Second is that the drifting has been improved. Before you could drift to get up to two levels of speed boosts, from a blue to a yellow boost. Now you can go up to a third pink boost. Another last major feature is the auto-acceleration mode. This is on by default and helps accelerate the kart without having to press on the gas. There’s also the smart steering option, which keeps you on track. These new options are welcomed and great for the young ones that aren’t Mario Kart vets or for more casual player. It is also helpful for people with specific handicaps or disabilities, allowing them to play the game as equals with everyone else. Veterans may want to turn off auto-acceleration, because there are instances where the smart steering will be a hindrance. There were times when I would take a different route off the main course but my kart would automatically try to center itself on course. One time this happened to me there was a wall between me and the course, so my kart moved at a crawl against the wall. This put me from first place to dead last on the last lap.
The game includes the DLC from the Wii U version. This includes the new playable characters like Tanooki Mario, Dry Bowser, Isabelle, and Link. Deluxe adds four new characters exclusive to the Switch, Inkling Boy and Girl from Splatoon as well as King Boo and Bowser Jr. from the Mario universe. We also get all the DLC kart parts, but unfortunately all parts must be unlocked by getting coins in game. All the DLC cups are also included, adding 16 new tracks like Excitebike Arena, Hyrule Circuit and Mute City. But what makes Deluxe so deluxe is the new Battle mode.
Battle mode in the original Wii U version was lacking. It was bare bones and didn’t include arena stages. You would battle on normal race tracks making it a very awkward mode that just wasn’t fun. In Deluxe they totally revamped the Battle mode making it feel more like traditional Mario Kart arena battle and added new modes. First, you have traditional Balloon Battle. This lets you battle others with random items in an arena. Every hit you get on an opponent nets you a point and they lose a balloon. Lose all your balloons and you start losing the points you have earned. Player with most points in the end wins. Then we have Renegade Roundup. In this mode, one team will have Piranha Plants on their karts while the others don’t. Team Piranhas goal is to capture all players by “eating” them. This transfers them to a prison cell. Imprison all opposing players and win. The opposing team just has to run away until time runs out. They can also break there imprisoned friends out of their prison cell. Bob-omb Blast is just like Balloon Battle, but with nothing but Bob-ombs. In Coin Runners, you try to accumulate as many coins as you can before time runs out. You can make other players drop coins by attacking them. The last mode is Shine Thief. In this mode you try to grab the Shine Sprite, once you do you want to keep a hold of it for 20 seconds. If you can do that you win, but other players can steal it from you by attacking you. Luckily your timer will continue where you left off if you grab the Shine Sprite again.
The game looks and sounds fantastic, running at 1080p at 60 frames per a second when playing solo or split screen with another player. The game unfortunately drops to 30 FPS when play 3 to 4 players. This doesn’t ruin the experience at all, since it’s still a major improvement from the Wii U version that ran at 720p. When undocked, the games runs at 720p at 60FPS. The sounds in game are crisp and the surround sound also seems to be improved. I never noticed how nice it was to hear karts sneaking up from behind you until I played the Switch version.
Having played countless hours of the Wii U version, I felt right at home picking up Deluxe on the Switch. It has everything I love about the original with more content, improved graphics, and the ability to play the game portably. If you already own the Wii U game, this isn’t a must have title to own, but it’s the definitive version of an amazing game. If you have never played Mario Kart 8, you owe it to yourself to pick this game up immediately.