18th May2017

‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

mario-kart-8-dlx-cover

Let’s be honest. When Nintendo announced the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it was met with a less than stellar response. After all, technially this “new” Nintendo Switch game is anything but new… Instead the Switch iteration is a port of the existing Wii U game, with a few new bells and whistles and a boat-load of DLC included from the get go. Surely nothing to rave about right?

Wrong.

This new Nintendo Switch iteration is THE definitive version of Mario Kart 8; and best of all the game is really suited to the Switch, especially single player handheld, plus it just looks damn good on the Switch’s screen. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also includes all 16 DLC tracks and all 36 characters from the Wii U version… AND there are new characters joining the roster too: Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl from Splatoon, King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr.

All the favourite tracks and characters from the WiiU version return, plus the Battle Mode has been revamped: including new game modes Balloon Battle and Bob-omb Blast, all-new courses such as Urchin Underpass and Battle Stadium, and returning ones like Luigi’s Mansion and the original Super Nintendo level, Battle Course 1.

Of course we COULD have had an all-new Mario Kart game on the Switch – and we may will in the future – but there’s no doubting why Nintendo decided to port the eighth installment to the Switch. After all, Mario Kart 8 was one of the best games on the WiiU, only the WiiU was unfortunatley one of the worst performing of Nintendo’s consoles in terms of hardware sales (not including the likes of the Virtual Boy of course). So it makes sense to take the tact that many gamers probably wouldn’t have actually experienced this game the first time round. Plus adding the DLC makes this more of a “Game of the Year” style release, and gamers are well-versed in rebuying game of that nature to get all the DLC in one chunk (having physical DLC never hurts either).

If you have played the WiiU version of the game, you’ll notice that there have been a number of tweaks to the game beyond the graphical upadte and added DLC. In particular, opponents feel more balanced, the cars and bikes actually feel like different vehicles on the track. Small tweaks yes, but ones that make a surprising difference to the overall gameplay. Of course Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still supports amiibo’s – going back as far as the very first wave in fact, as Fireball Mario unlocks a cool Mario-esque costumes for you Mii should you wish to race in the game a “yourself” (though my personal favourite character to race as is Tanooki Mario TBH).

The only real issue I had with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the item boxes and in particular the double boxes (a nod to the Gamecube iteration of the franchise). 9 times out of 10, at least in the 50cc and 100cc classes, I got a useful item such as green shell or a super horn; and then I got a coin, which is pretty much useless. Apparently – and I wasn’t aware of this till recently – a lack of decent items in boxes are a result of being constantly in first place. Something I wish I knew BEFORE I’d spent hours playing… I thought the game was flawed but no, it’s actually Nintendo’s idea of weighting the game in favour of the other players trying to catch up to you!

As someone who’s played each and every iteration of Mario Kart – from the SNES and Gamecube through the more recent 3DS and WiiU releases, I can safely say that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best version of the game by far. Combining ideas from each and every franchise and tweaking the game to (almost) perfection, there’s a VERY good reason this is the fastest and best-selling Nintendo release in years!

***** 5/5

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