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Review: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Mario Kart always has been my favorite Super Mario spin-off. With every new Nintendo console or handheld, I looked forward to the day of the Mario Kart release. Mario Kart 8 was the best of the franchise but released on Nintendo’s Wii U. Meaning a lot of gamers missed this entry. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is here to solve that problem and gives you a second chance to play the best Mario Kart in the comfort of your home or in the palm of your hand thanks to the Nintendo Switch.

The complete deal

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe comes with everything the Wii U version had to offer, including the DLC and this straight from the box. No need to unlock new cups or characters (bar one), everything is unlocked from the start. Meaning you’ll have a lot of characters (42 to be precise) to choose from, including some entirely new ones like King Boo, Bowser Junior, Dry Bones and Spaltoon’s Inkling Boy and Girl. Since there aren’t new cups created, you won’t find a custom Splatoon course to race but that’s not a problem since the game comes packed with 48 courses ready to discover.

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If you’re new to Mario Kart 8, you’re really in for a treat. The 48 courses all have their own charm and are all incredible to race. Half of them are entirely new ones while the other half are reworked versions of classic courses taken from older Mario Kart games. I said reworked since none of those classic courses are simply ported to this version. The creators modified those courses to include the anti-gravity, underwater and air sections that form a huge part of the Mario Kart 8 gameplay.

The perfect game for newcomers

Besides adding some new characters and unlocking almost everything immediately, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still comes with other improvements. One of the more drastic changes is the assist option, meant for new players. There are three brand-new control assists which can be accessed when selecting characters or at any time in the pause menu. The first one is called Smart Steering and will help you to keep your Kart on track. It’s a great tool for the younger gamer since Smart Steering will assist them in taking those sharp turns without falling off the track. If you use this option, a small antenna will pop up behind your kart, a bulb will glow whenever the assist is helping you. This visual help doesn’t only help you to understand when the system is taking over but it also gives away players using Smart Steering in multiplayer sessions.

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The second assist is an ‘auto-accelerate’ option where the system will automatically drive. This means you can focus on throwing items at your opponents while the system is in full control of your kart. Needless to say, this is an extremely welcomed assist for those who like to play with their younger siblings. The third and final assist are the motion controls. Just like in older Mario Kart games, you can use the gyro sensor of your Joy-Con to steer your kart. Motion control works surprisingly well and the Joy-Con Wheel looks small but really fits your hands perfectly. Using motion controls isn’t always that popular but I’m sure more gamers will use the option thanks to the comfort of the little steering and the precision of the Joy-Con.

More new content

The fun doesn’t stop there just yet. For the more veteran players, we have the 200cc tournaments. These are so fast, you’ll see items flying around everywhere and CPU characters racing like you’ve never seen them race before. 200cc is even so fast you’ll need to take your finger off the accelerator from time to time. For those who like speed, Nintendo also added a third and purple boost to your arsenal. If you drift long enough, you’ll gain a purple glow which enables you to use your third boost. Meaning beating your old high score and ghost in time trials really adds something new to the table. This purple boost can also be of importance to win the race. A small but welcome addition in the Deluxe version!

 

The best Mario Kart to date!

 

Besides those additions, Nintendo also added two new items. The first one is a small Boo, enabling you to steal an item from another racer. It’s fun to use but it’s less fun when you see your powerful item disappear due to this little guy. The second new item is the returning Feather, only accessible in the Battle Mode. This item makes you jump over obstacles or steal a balloon from an opponent when close enough.

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The best part about the items is that you can, once again, carry two at the same time. By hitting two boxes (or the special bigger ones), you’re able to queue two items. This means you can hold onto that special item for longer or you can race back to the top faster. It’s nothing that special but this small addition really alters the strategy in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

The Battle Mode

The Battle Mode, finally back in its true form. A lot of Mario Kart fans missed this mode in the original Wii U version and we couldn’t blame them. In this Deluxe version, Nintendo made sure to include a classic Battle Mode filled with fun modes to play. In Battle Mode you can go for Balloon Battle, Bob-omb Blast, Shine Runners, Coin Thief and Renegade Roundup. The Balloon Battle is without a doubt the most familiar one, popping balloons and protection yours to score the most points. The other mode are fun to experiment with as well and I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy playing this Battle Mode on their Switch console.

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The best part about the Battle Mode is that Nintendo included some of the best arenas and created new ones to make it even more fun for those who’ve been playing Mario Kart for years. Unlike the Grand Prix, you’ll find a dedicated Splatoon map in the Battle Mode, giving you some Splatoon action before Splatoon 2 hits the market. It’s a great addition to an already incredible game and we’re very glad to welcome back this mode to the franchise.

The benefits of the Nintendo Switch

This already brings me to the last thing I want to say about the game. Having it on Nintendo Switch is a match made in heaven. Thanks to the new console, Mario Kart 8 has never looked this good on your television. The colors are really popping and the details in courses and characters are incredible. It’s by far the best looking Mario Kart game out there and this only adds to the fun!

You can play the game in handheld and tabletop mode as well, both working extremely well. In handheld mode, you’re able to take this gem with you wherever you go, talking about an upgrade compared to Mario Kart 7! Even in tabletop mode, the game works perfectly fine and thanks to the quality of the screen, two players will be able to enjoy the action with ease. Don’t mind the frame rates and resolution. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe really looks impressive when you’re playing on the Nintendo Switch screen itself.

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Also, note that you can play with up to 8 players locally and you know this is the game you’ll need to own during future gaming evenings. Don’t want to play locally, then you can jump online and enjoy the game with up to 12 players, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has it all.

Conclusion

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe really is the next big thing after The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. This Deluxe game comes packed with an amount of content that will keep you busy for the coming weeks. It’s the most complete and best Mario Kart game on the market, offering fun characters and incredible courses. Also note that the Battle Mode makes a return and Nintendo made sure everybody can enjoy the game thanks to the assists. This really is a no-brainer. If you already played it or not, it doesn’t matter, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe should be in everybody’s Nintendo Switch collection.

9.5/10

Got interested in games since I could read. Started with Nintendo but evolved into an all-round gamer. I love all kind of games; triple A games to Indie. If the vibe is right, I'll enjoy playing it.