Yes. You should buy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe right now if you own a Nintendo Switch (our review). Go on, I’ll wait. Now we can go through the reasons you just spent $60 on a three-year-old game.
“But what if I’ve already played Mario Kart 8 on the ill-fated Wii U?” I hear you cry. Let’s take a look at what Deluxe brings to the table so you can decide for yourself.
If you’ve not played Mario Kart 8 already, I truly envy the experience that lies ahead of you. There are only a handful of games I’ve bought twice, the most recent being GTA V. But last week I added Mario Kart 8 to that list. I did this despite already owning the Wii U version and all downloadable content (DLC).
There’s a lot to love about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe but at face value, visual improvements are the most noticeable change. The Switch version runs at a native 1080p in docked mode, and a native 720p when running handheld.
The result is pixel-perfect rendering that results in a sharp and clean-looking image. The game looked good on the Wii U, but bumping the resolution from 720p to full HD really makes for a noticeable improvement. Frame rates are also locked solid, with 60 frames per second for one and two-player modes, and 30 frames per second for three and four-player modes.
As previously mentioned, the Deluxe edition comes with all available DLC (including Mercedes-Benz karts and parts). There are also new characters to race as, a brand-new battle mode, and some considerable gameplay tweaks. Oh, and you can take what is arguably the best Mario Kart game ever made on the go with you.
The Best Mario Kart Ever
When Mario Kart 8 hit the shelves in 2014, it was met with positive reception. The game enjoys a metascore of 88, with reviewers praising the track design, variety of vehicles on offer, and online play. In Deluxe, the core game is largely unchanged which means these praises still ring true today.
One of the biggest selling points for Switch owners who are new or old to the franchise is the ability play Mario Kart on the go. Portable versions of Nintendo’s racer are nothing new, but a version that looks and plays like a home console game certainly is.
Multiplayer options are fleshed out here, too. In addition to surprisingly smooth online play and frantic split-screen racing, up to eight Switch consoles can compete in wireless races and battles. You can even link 12 consoles via a network for an old-school LAN party.
Deluxe improves on an already impressive game, and one which so many people missed out on last time round. Nintendo even went so far as to rectify what is arguably the game’s weakest mode by adding a proper battle mode.
A Proper Battle Mode
The original Mario Kart 8 battle mode was an unfunny joke. This was due to two issues: a single boring game mode, and a distinct lack of real battle arenas. Players had to duke it out on regular race tracks, which could make finding other players tricky considering the size of some courses.
Deluxe fixes all that with the inclusion of a retro-inspired battle mode and eight purpose-built arenas. These range from the brand new Splatoon-themed Urchin Underpass to old-school arenas like Battle Course 1 from the SNES original.
There’s a lot of fun to be had, particularly when paired with brand-new game modes. In addition to classic Balloon Battle, there’s a jailbreak mode called Renegade Roundup, while Bob-omb Blast replaces all item pickups with bombs. The mode choices also include the collect ’em up Coin Runners, and the evasive Shine Thief.
It works online too, and it’s the perfect game mode to play when you fancy a break from vanilla racing. I’d go as far as saying that this new battle mode alone makes the game worth purchasing a second time if you’re on the fence about it.
48 Courses and 42 Characters
Never before has there been a Mario Kart release with so much content. Most recent releases have topped out at 32 tracks, comprised of 16 new courses and 16 reimagined retro circuits. With the addition of DLC, Deluxe adds another four Grand Prix events for a grand total of 48 tracks.
It’s not like these DLC tracks are weak additions, either. Some of the best circuits in the game were added via DLC, like the retro Excitebike Arena and chaotic Baby Park from Mario Kart: Double Dash on the GameCube.
There are also a few new characters this time round, like the Splatoon inklings, Golden Mario, Dry Bones, and King Boo. These don’t make a world of difference, but they’re nice options nonetheless.
Some commentators have speculated that Nintendo may add yet more DLC to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for Switch owners, but considering this is a three-year-old re-release and that Mario Kart 9 is probably already under development, it’s pretty unlikely.
A Few Gameplay Tweaks
Small changes can make a big difference when it comes to a game like Mario Kart. Nintendo’s racer has the ability to feel both erratic and formulaic. Over the years, subtle tweaks have been made, while core mechanics remain unchanged. And that’s exactly what Nintendo has done this time round.
Accessibility has been bolstered with the addition of steering and acceleration assists. These are great for newcomers and young players, but many will want to turn steering assist off (the game enables it by default). You can also still use motion controls, if you really want to.
The biggest shake-up is the return of two item slots from the days of Double Dash. You can’t switch between items, but you can now carry two at a time which makes for more chaotic races.
Deluxe also adds two extra pickups: the Boo steals an item for you, and the feather grabs another player’s balloons during battle mode.
I played a lot of Mario Kart 8 when it first came out, but the Switch version has given me a great excuse to go back and rediscover one of last generation’s best games. If you haven’t already played it, then what are you waiting for? Even if you’re a seasoned MK8 veteran, you’re likely going to want this for the new and improved battle mode and portability.
Make sure you know what other big Nintendo Switch games are coming out in 2017!
Will you be buying Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? Did you play the Wii U version too? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!