Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Series: Mario Kart
Released: April 28 2017
When the Nintendo Switch hybrid console was released in April 2017, the decision was taken to release a special version of Mario Kart 8 upon launch, titled Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. This is largely the same as the original, so I will direct you to my main review of Mario Kart 8 by clicking here. However, there are some noteworthy changes, and thankfully they make an already-terrific game even better.
Assuming that you’ve read my review of the Wii U version and have now returned to this page, you’ll know that Mario Kart 8 has 36 characters and 48 courses after DLC. In the case of the original, 6 of the racers and 16 of the courses (in the form of 4 Cups) were available as post-release DLC. In this Deluxe version, however, these downloadable content bonuses are available right from the start, reducing the need to spend any further money or time on trying to obtain additional material. This is great for anyone who may have side-stepped the DLC for the Wii U game, and for those gamers, this will almost feel like a brand new release as a result.
More crucially, though, Nintendo realised in the three years between the original and the Deluxe being released that Battle Mode needed spicing up. Therefore, a bunch of brand new arenas were included as part of this Switch edition, meaning that the one major drawback to the Wii U version had been corrected. Other noteworthy alterations included a slight variation on the unlockables (since everything bar specific karts, wheels and gliders would now be accessible from day one), a minor change to the cover sleeve (which sued the image primarily seen on the game’s main menu), and also smoother gameplay. Although the Wii U gamepad made turning and flying very easy, the Joy-Cons for the Switch makes these tasks even easier to perform. What’s more, while the Wii U gamepad allowed you to effectively play Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo tablet while potentially watching another TV show, the Switch’s make-up allows players to take this title on the go to absolutely anywhere while retaining the superb HD graphics. Of course, a traditional television can also still host the action, and while I love being able to play this game in my garden or on holiday, nothing beats the full TV experience.
There are also two extra items in Boo and Feather, while there is now the ability to hold two items at once regardless of the situation. Otherwise, everything else is exactly the same, from the menus to the music to the characters to the courses. Rather than repeat a whole bunch of text in a copy-and-paste manner, I would simply direct you to the aforementioned Wii U review, but suffice it to say that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe carries a huge amount of content that will provide hours and hours of fun.
I had previously stated that Mario Kart 8 was already a classic game, but the Deluxe version is even better. Battle Mode is now what fans would expect from this longtime favourite feature due to the addition of new arenas, while the inclusion of all the MK 8 DLC right from the start is very generous, as well as a clever way for Nintendo to market this as being must-own even for jaded MK 8 gamers. The racing was already exceptional, but the small tweaks that have been made here (with the exception of some shortcuts being removed) take this to an even higher level. I will say that the difficulty levels seem to be a little tougher, as the number of shells being fired at me has increased compared to the Wii U edition, but at least we’re still not at the depths of Mario Kart Wii, where shell bombardments were all too frequent and cruel. Nintendo have found just the right balance between being fair and providing a challenge, and this combined with the Joy-Cons making for more flexible turns results in arguably the most effective and enjoyable racing experience of the entire series.
Again, I don’t want to repeat myself, so I will simply say that amongst the 48 courses available, we have plenty of true gems, some of which stand as being amongst my favourites ever from a Mario Kart game. The roster of crazy characters also adds to the lifespan of this title, and because you can now play it anywhere from your bathroom to your friend’s living room to the honeymoon suite after your wedding, it has never been more appealing to play the most current version of Mario Kart. The Switch’s popularity boom has allowed this to outsell its Wii U predecessor, and three years on, it is still selling like hotcakes. This means that we might not see Mario Kart 9 until 2021 or 2022, but fans won’t mind waiting too long while we have a game that is this good.
Mario Kart 8 was incredible, but by making small yet necessary improvements, along with providing DLC right from the start and finally giving Battle Mode the proper treatment, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is ultimately the best Mario Kart game of all-time. I will always hold the fondest memories for the likes of Mario Kart 64 (which might just be my favourite videogame of any genre ever) and Mario Kart: Double Dash, but few games are as enjoyable and feature-packed as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It is also very exciting to imagine where things might head in Mario Kart 9, and I will be writing an article with my ideas of what I would like to see when this game finally arrives for the Switch. In the meantime, though, if you’ve still yet to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you need to change that ASAP, because it’s one of the most thoroughly enjoyable videogames of this generation.
Target Audience: Children Aged 3+
Content: No Content Likely To Offend
Overall Rating: 10/10 – Perfect