Mario Kart 8 is still one of the best in the long-running series. With the recent launch of the Switch, it is no surprise that Nintendo wants to cash in on their most popular franchises. MK8 Deluxe brings everything the original had, adds all the DLC, and revamps the one sore spot in the form of battle mode. It is like the perfect edition of the game. However, there is not a lot here to entice players to make a double dip.
Don’t misunderstand my statement; there is a ton of content in Deluxe. The game boasts 48 courses, all of which are pretty dang good. There are 42 characters to choose from, a handful of which are new, such as King Boo and the Squid Kids from Splatoon. There are new kart customization pieces, and of course plenty of new Battle Mode courses and tweaks. For anyone who never played MK8, this is a dream come true; toss in sharper visuals and a more consistent frame rate, and the game just oozes enjoyment.
Price I’d Pay: $59.99
The revamped Battle Mode remains the biggest change to this version. In the original game, it was an afterthought at best. This time around, Nintendo has created arena-style courses that better suit the mode. They also added five new variants to the mix. Balloon Battle remains the nostalgic choice, but Shine Thief and Bob-Omb Blast are also great. Coin Runners is the least exciting, but Renegade Roundup steals the show. This cooperative mode has players running away from Piranha Plants, and the chaos is addictive.
Online returns for Deluxe, and sadly it is still as bare bones as the original game. There is no defending the online service Nintendo has conjured up for Switch. Having to use outside means to communicate with friends is as bad as it sounds. At least they allowed for switching karts and racers between matches now. There is also a severe lack of modes and features. Mario Kart is the perfect game for customization, and sadly there is little here. At least I was able to get into matches relatively quick, and when I did they always seemed to run smooth, but it is worth noting all tests were done before retail servers went live.
Visually MK8 always looked great, but seeing it at full 1080p makes the track details stand out so much more. Everything is sharp and colorful. The frame rate is also rock solid, at least in single player. Playing split screen is better than on Wii U, but it still dips from time to time.
Playing in handheld mode feels so good though. Finally having a console-level Mario Kart that can be played portably is like a dream. The game runs great in portable mode as well. Masochists can of course play split screen on the tablet, but playing with the Joycons separated is still not something I ever want to do.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a hard game to review. On one hand, the value is insane. The tracks, modes, and sheer amount of content found in the game are unmatched. On the other hand, hardly any of it is new for those of us who bought the game on Wii U. Another factor in the mix is that the Switch simply is lacking another big blockbuster to purchase after Zelda, so MK8 Deluxe is certainly tempting. Either way the game is still just as fun as it was on Wii U, and that is the most important bullet point.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.