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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Game Reviews

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

A solid port that excels on the portable Switch; doesn’t shake up the formula, but doesn’t really need to.

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It’s the Nintendo Switch! It’s great! You can dock it and play games on the TV! You can take it with you and play games wherever! It’s even becoming a little more available at retail so you might actually be able to get one by now! Ain’t life grand? The thing about the Switch, however, is that you’re going to need something to play on it. There’s no getting around the obvious; there isn’t much available yet, excepting a certain masterpiece you might’ve heard of.

That would be The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Once you finish journeying though this newly remade Hyrule, it looks like Nintendo has you covered with the bigger, better, and entirely more mobile Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

You probably know what Mario Kart is. It’s been a standby Nintendo franchise for decades now, after all. this Deluxe edition soups up the original Wii U edition from a few years back with the fundamentals largely the same: choose from one of Nintendo’s beloved mascot characters, strap them into a Nintendo-themed kart, then hitting the road on a Nintendo-themed track. During the race, you’ll grab weapons and items and use them to hinder the other racers or gain an advantage. This basic formula hasn’t changed a whole lot since the first game was released in the early 90s.

Mario Kart 8 continues along the same lines, with this Deluxe edition basically doing the same but more so. It’s got all the tracks and characters from the original game as well as a few more, totaling around 50 courses and 40 characters to choose from. That’s a pretty sizable amount of content, especially when you consider that the original Mario Kart 8’s DLC content is included and can be unlocked in-game as well.

The racing action itself feels great on the Switch, of course, no matter how you choose to control the game. You’ve got various speed classes to choose from to suit your playstyle and ability; higher classes are, of course, insanely fast, and you can expect to spend some time crashing straight into the wall if you aren’t already a Mario Kart pro.

Changes from the original are generally fairly minor: allowing you to carry two items at a time instead of one, things like that. If you’re looking for new content, the most significant addition here is the significant revamps to the Battle Mode, a returning feature from previous games. This is essentially arena combat on go-karts; there are several methods to this madness, including the standard balloon-popping deathmatch, a version of tag involving bombs and variation on cops and robbers where one team tries to lock the other up. It’s all great fun and, like regular races, you’re able to play online or locally.

It’s worth noting, though, that this really is the most significant change made by Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. If you’ve already played the Wii U version of this game, the value of the Deluxe version diminishes since there’s not a lot here that you couldn’t have gotten there. Of course, the game runs at a consistent 60fps and HD-standard 1080p (when docked), so it’s more gorgeous than ever. Make no mistake: this is absolutely a port, albeit a great one, so don’t go in expecting a whole new experience.

On the other hand, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is easily one of the best examples of the Switch’s power as a handheld yet; I can’t think of many other handheld games with graphics quite this impressive, after all. Mario Kart also makes for a great portable experience, naturally, given the bite-sized races and simple controls, and I think we’re all finally starting to wind down a little on Breath of the Wild. Frankly, if you’re hurting for something to play on your Switch, you could certainly do worse than this. Newcomers who aren’t familiar with the original game have nothing to fear, of course, and should hop along to their local eShop or retail store post haste to snatch this one up.