By Jose Vega
Three years ago, Mario Kart 8 was released on the Wii U and though it was a great game, it was on a console that not many people bought. When Nintendo the Switch back in 2016, it was hinted that there would possibly be a Mario Kart title for it. Those hints prove to be true when it was announced that a port of the Wii U game would be coming to Nintendo Switch.
But as it turned out, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is not just a simple port – it adds a whole bunch of new features. So the question is, is this game worth getting on the Nintendo Switch (even if you already have it on Wii U)?
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is filled to the brim with content that is fun with friends or solo. You can take part in the Grand Prix, consisting of 12 cups spanning 48 courses. Many are new and some are revised classics from previous games. Still others are from the DLC Cups that were sold separately in the last game.
As you play through each track in Grand Prix mode, you can collect Gold Coins that can be used to unlock new stuff. In Mario Kart 8 you would unlock new characters and parts. But Deluxe makes this less of a grind by having all the characters unlocked from the get-go, including the DLC characters, and that’s awesome.
What makes it better is that MK8D introduces some new characters as well, including Bowser Jr., Dry Bones, King Boo and the Inklings from Splatoon. It raises the character count to 43, which makes this the biggest cast for any Mario Kart game. You also have access to various difficulty settings from 50cc to the brand new 200cc, all unlocked from the start, including Mirror mode. There’s also Time Trials for those that want to test their skills without the distraction of others buzzing around, and Versus mode where for 4-player action. Also, you can now hold up to 2 items at once, similar to Double Dash. This adds another level of strategy, but at the same time leads to some crazy shenanigans in multiplayer matches.
One of the biggest negatives Mario Kart 8 had was its Battle mode being lackluster. Nintendo seems to have learned from the mistake and completely revamped Battle mode here. Now they’ve implementing a scoring system and provide players with eight battle courses – five new, three throwbacks. In addition, there are five types of battles: Balloon Battle, Renegade Roundup, Bob-omb Blast, Coin Runners and Shine Thief. Renegade Roundup is like playing “Cops & Robbers” where players are split into two teams. One team (the Renegades) has to run and hide, while the other (the Law) has to hunt down and capture all the Renegades using Piranha Plants. All of these additions makes the game truly feel like a complete package.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also has an Online mode where up to 12 players from all over the world can challenge each other. You can compete against either Worldwide or Regional opponents in both conventional races or battles, and up to two players can share the experience on any single Switch. Players can even set up online tournaments easily. As far as stability goes, it’s good. I did experience connection errors at times, but overall it’s been a pleasant experience.
That’s quite a lot to take in, but all that makes the replay value of the game an all-time high, no joke!
Players have access to three different control schemes: Switch Pro Controller, Joy-Con Grip or individual Joy-Cons. That means, if you have to complete Joy-Con controllers, you can share the joy with up to four players right in your living room (or wherever you bring your Nintendo Switch). That’s incredible! But the individual Joy-Cons can be a little tough for some players to use.
Compared to the Wii U version, this port of Mario Kart 8 delivers an improved presentation. It looks a lot better with the game now running at 1080p at 60 fps: a big improvement compared to the original running at 720p. These improved visuals get an upgrade where even the small details can be seen. Loading times are reduced from 22 seconds to just nine – perfect for times you just can’t wait to race and have fun!
The music is still a delight to listen to with many tracks having very good tunes. The controls are refined and fun to use whether you have a Joy-Con or a Switch Pro Controller in hand. There’s also wireless play where 2 Nintendo Switch consoles can link up locally for up to 8 player madness. Though it isn’t easy to get that kind of group together, it’s truly a delight when you can pull it off.
Like the previous game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has Amiibo support where you can scan them to get costumes for your Mii. This time around, they now expand beyond Mario & Smash characters and into stuff like Splatoon. It’s simply cosmetic but nice to see.
JOSE’S TAKE: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes everything that made Mario Kart 8 great and improved it. Containing all the DLC, an improved battle mode, good online, tight controls, great music, amazing presentation, what’s not to like? If you haven’t gotten a chance to play it on the Wii U and you have a Switch, this is a must-buy game. Get some friends and you’ll see just how amazing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe can be. You won’t regret it.
KC’S TAKE: MK8D is the first smash hit party game on the Nintendo Switch. While the solo experience is robust and enjoyable on its own, multiplayer is where Mario Kart shines, and Nintendo clearly realized this. With a convenient tournament system, helpful accessibility options and the vast selection of characters and courses, this is a title anyone can crack open and have an unmitigated blast with, locally or online.
JV’S TAKE: I was already a huge fan of the original Mario Kart 8 game on the Wii U, and Deluxe is an improvement of that experience on every level. The built-in addition of all the DLC from the original practically triples the content (if you didn’t get the DLC on the Wii U), the absolute revamping of the Battle Mode, and the convenience of playing local wireless with friends showcases the quintessential multiplayer experience on the Nintendo Switch.