Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Review

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe can now be played anywhere thanks to Nintendo bringing it to the Nintendo Switch. There is a lot to do here whether you want to focus on the single player, local multiplayer, online play or wireless play. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a port of Mario Kart 8 that was on the Wii U but it includes all of the DLC from the Wii U version and some brand new content as well. It is the definitive Mario Kart 8 package and now you can play it at home, on a flight, during a car trip or wherever you may go.

When you first boot the game up you will see single player and the different modes within it. There is the Grand Prix mode which I guess could be considered the “campaign” for the game even though there is no story. Once you do that you will have four different difficulties to choose from as well as being able to race on mirror image courses. After that selection is made you choose your character and then can customize your ride in a few different areas. You can choose whether you want a sport bike, a “steel driver” which looks like a submarine, a standard kart, a Splatoon themed “splat buggy” and more. Then you can pick which tires you use and the type of glider your racer has for when they have to race off a ledge to a track below. After all of that is done you will be presented with 12 different cups to race in ranging from the Mushroom Cup to the Star Cup to the Triforce Cup and more. Each cup will consist of four different tracks and the really nice thing is they will tell you where the track is from. So if you pick the Lightning Cup, for example, you will see that the track “Tick-Tock Clock” comes from the Nintendo DS version of Mario Kart. As you successfully complete cups you will unlock more items that you can use to customize your vehicle for future races.

The single player mode also offers a time trial mode where you can race alone without any other AI drivers to bother you to try and set some new records. Then there is the “Vs. Race” selection where you can race using custom rules, such as picking the number of tracks you will race on whether it is just the standard four tracks, all 48 tracks or whatever the case may be. The fourth and final option here is the Battle mode where you have five different modes to choose from with Balloon Battle, Renegade Roundup, Bob-omb Blast, Coin Runners and Shine Thief. The way the Battle Mode works is, instead of racing, you are basically trying to take out your opponent through other means. The first one I tried was Renegade Roundup. It is essentially a game of cat and mouse. I chose to do four rounds when I was playing so that means that for two rounds I was the law and I was trying to capture the other team. I would have a piranha plant on the front of my racer and when I got close enough to someone on the other team the piranha plant would eat them and send them to jail. My job in this instance was to try and do that for the whole team in the allotted amount of time I had. If I could successfully lock them all up at the same time I would win. Then the other two rounds I was on the other side trying to get away from the law. I was racing around the arenas doing what I could to try and prevent myself from getting caught. If some of your teammates get captured you can also rush over to hit an icon which will release them from jail, which essentially means the law has to capture everyone again. I had a lot of fun with the back and forth nature of this mode and with each mode only lasting three minutes the action was pretty fast and furious.

The Bob-omb Blast mode also has a lot of action but it is a bit different. In this mode you will only receive bob-ombs and you can stockpile up to ten at a time. You will begin each round with five balloons. As you collect bob-ombs you will need to either throw them in front of you or toss them behind you to try and hit the racers in the arena. If you successfully hit them and pop one of their balloons then you will gain a point. Keep in mind though that if you get hit multiple times and lose all of your balloons then you will lose half of the points that you have earned. The game isn’t over at that point as they will give you more balloons but you will have to try and recover the points you just lost. I had a good amount of fun in this mode, even when I was getting utterly destroyed in all of the chaos.

The third mode is Coin Runners and this one is easy to immediately understand. Basically there are coins positioned around the arena and you need to get and then keep as many coins as you can. You can take coins from your enemies by hitting them with an item and then when their coins pop out on the ground you can race over and get them. Be careful though because they can do the same thing to you. That is essentially all there is to it but I actually had some pretty intense match ups as I would lose a round by just a single coin or another time where I pulled off a last second victory.

The next mode I tried was Shine Thief and this is from Double Dash on the Gamecube. The objective in this mode is to grab a star and then hold on to the star as long as possible until the counter reaches zero. The first person to do that wins. What I liked to do was rush ahead to try and grab it and then go up to the top floor in the Luigi’s Mansion arena and just stay away from everyone as long as I could while at the same time using three green shells as protection. I was able to survive until I had about 5 seconds left and then someone hit me with an item and I lost the star. I immediately pursued the person that now had the star in their possession and tried to hit them with shells and banana peels and whatever else I could get my hands on. Eventually I was able to get the star back and then all I had to do was last five more seconds since the clock didn’t reset from the first time I had it and once the timer reached zero I had won the game. This mode is a lot of fun with friends and there was definitely some great, chaotic action as we all jockeyed for position trying to be the one to grab the star and then hold onto it once it was in our possession.

The last one is Balloon Battle and this is basically just a straight up battle mode. You start with five balloons and you need to use the items in the arena to hit your enemy. If you lose all of your balloons you will be given more but at the cost of half of your points. This is another one where my friends and I would have a lot of fun just goofing off and going through all of the different arenas available in the game.

The above modes are also available in multiplayer action as well. Going online and wanting to race against regional opponents I was given the option of a vs. race or battle mode. During my time playing the different modes in the online suite I didn’t notice any lag at all and I was able to join games fairly quickly. The online options include “worldwide,” “regional,” “friends” and “tournaments” so there is enough to keep you busy no matter how you want to play. You can do online multiplayer with up to two people on a Switch console. If you want to do local multiplayer you can have up to four players. Then there is wireless play which allows up to eight players to connect multiple Nintendo Switch consoles together via a local wireless connection. If you have a bunch of friends who all have Switch consoles with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and you are waiting in line to see something at a convention like PAX, for example, then this is a great way to pass the time and a lot of fun.

As I mentioned up above this is a port of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U but it has the DLC from that version in addition to some brand new content. Some of this new content includes the ability to carry two things at once. There is also “Smart Steering” and “Auto Accelerate” for beginners or little kids who might not know how to fully play the game yet. It should also be noted that Red Shells and Blue Shells are a bit slower here which means you can actually outrun them in 200cc if you have any kind of speed boost, such as a mushroom. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also features six new characters that weren’t in Mario Kart 8. In terms of vehicles there are three new vehicle body parts and two new items that can be used. Amiibo support is also here and adds compatibility with Splatoon amiibo which will unlock a Mii racing suit that is based on Splatoon. There is also Mario Kart Television (MKTV) where you can watch some of your recent highlights and you can even do some editing.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is definitely the whole package and something that Mario Kart fans will really enjoy. The capabilities of the Nintendo Switch make it even better since now you are no longer confined to just playing it at home. You can take it with you and play it on the plane or on a car trip or wherever the case may be. If you are in the middle of a Grand Prix race and need to leave it is pretty awesome that I can just take the system out of the dock and not miss a beat. If you are a Mario Kart fan then I highly recommend you get this title. If you purchased the Wii U version you will have to decide whether or not all of this justifies buying this game again but for me it is well worth it.

Score: 9/10
Originally posted on Gaming Target

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