Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review (Switch)

Speeding toward the finish line, victory just a moment away and then the dreaded blue shell strikes. Despite these traumatic moments the game never failed to make my day. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a game that both longtime fans and newcomers will be able to enjoy.


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn’t just a simple port of the Wii U version, but actually includes numerous noteworthy improvements. In the Switch version all cups, tracks, characters and DLC are available from the get go. Obviously the Deluxe edition brings new characters to the table including: Browser Jr., Dry Bones, Gold Mario, Inkling Boy and Girl, as well as King Boo.


New to Deluxe is a third boost level. When you start to drift you see blue sparks, followed by orange if you continue to drift enough, and now that is followed by pink ones. Each level gives you a noticeably longer boost, encouraging drifting all around.


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The dual items mean there is now some strategic depth when deciding what you should keep and what you should ditch. The Boo and Feather items make a return, making for an even more eventful match. Finally, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe adds the Smart steering and Auto acceleration features.


These last two are some of the best accessibility options I have ever seen in any game. You can literally give anyone the controller and have him or her enjoy the race without having to bump into every surface or wonder why their kart isn’t moving. Combine this with the always present rubber banding and even the most unskilled of players will be able to keep up. These training wheels, while unbelievably helpful, prevent players from using the final level of their drift boost or going off course in order to pursue a useful shortcut, which means that for higher level play you’d want to disable these.


Everyone is bound to find a favorite in the absolutely staggering roster of characters. Out of the 41 available characters (including your own Mii characters and Amiibo costumes for them), only Gold Mario requires unlocking by completing all cups in 200cc mode.


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The game offers a substantial number of modes. The Grand prix has you going through 4 races in order to reach top position. Time Trial pits you against the course in pursuit of the fastest time. The VS mode lets you setup your own criteria for races such as teams, items, tracks and much more.


The Battle mode is back and while it might not be the highlight it offers a nice change of pace after hours of racing to the finish line. Unlike in the Wii U version the maps for the battle mode are specifically designed for this mode. There are five different modes with various goals ranging from stealing and holding onto a gold star as long as possible, to playing a cops and robbers game of sorts.


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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe makes full use of the Switch offering a rich variety of multiplayer modes. If you have a single switch, no problem. Just pop out the Joy-Cons and you are ready for a two player experience. The game actually supports up to 12 players locally on up to 8 Switch consoles at the same time. If you are short on friends, no problem, online play will keep you entertained for a very long time. The online experience was buttery smooth and I never had any connection issues.


While technically the Switch is miles behind the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One when it comes to raw processing power, you’d be hard-pressed to call Mario Kart 8 Deluxe anything but visually stunning. The game runs at a crisp 1080p when docked and at a native 720p when in handheld mode. The experience is buttery smooth, since the action runs at a steady 60fps and at 30fps when playing with three or four players.


Mario Kart 8 is adorable beyond belief. All the tracks are bustling with life. From the sharp geometric edges of the Excitebike Arena, to cloud tracks and flying ships in Cloudtop Cruise, to the horror themed Twisted Mansion. There are so many little details that makes each track unique.


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If you own a Nintendo Switch there is absolutely no excuse to not go and pick up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe right now. Even if you put an insane amount of time into the game when it came out on the Wii U, just the fact that you can jump into a race wherever, whenever and with whoever you want makes this a no-brainer. The smart steering and auto acceleration mean everyone will be able to enjoy. If you are still deciding whether or not the Switch is for you, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe might very well be the system seller you are looking for.


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