Review: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is worth another lap around the track
Certainly is the Definitive Edition
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Mario Kart 8 is a fantastic game. If you've played, I certainly don't need to tell you that, and if you haven't, allow me to tell you that now. It was a fantastic next step in the kart racing franchise that brought fantastic visuals, buttery smooth gameplay, and some sweet new gameplay mechanics. It's Nintendo's second premiere game on the Switch, with the first being the masterful Breath of the Wild, and after having put a substantial amount of time into it, and having previously played Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, I can safely recommend this as a must buy for anyone that owns Nintendo's new hybrid console.
Since the game is still largely similar to its original Wii U release, I'm going to link the original review below, so give that a read as it will go over the game much more in-depth, and here I'll mostly be discussing what's new.
Remaster? Re-release? Definitive Edition?
For the most part, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is near identical to its Wii U counterpart, meaning everything you've experienced there, you'll get to experience here as well, but with some notable additions. First and foremost, the essential and extremely affordable DLC packs for the Wii U version are now built-in, meaning you get four additional cups, additional characters, and vehicles. Additionally, there are six additional characters in Deluxe, with one needing to be unlocked. Within each cup, you'll have multiple CC variants including a Mirror version, ensuring you're constantly pushing yourself in terms of difficulty.
You also have the ability to pick up two power-ups at a time and hold them both, giving you an extra tactical advantage when taking your opponents down. There were many instances this particular feature saved my ass. For instance, I had a red shell and a horn. The red shell was able to deflect another one hurling towards me, while the horn was immediately after that able to deal with that pesky blue shell. Seriously, the game had it out for me during that race. It's not entirely game changing but it's enough to shake things up a bit.
The game also runs at full 1080p, which contrary to my knowledge, wasn't the case on the Wii U version. Additionally, the framerate stays consistently at 60, whether you play solo, or playing split-screen, another new feature the original game didn't have.
The biggest and most convenient feature though doesn't really have anything to do with the game itself, but rather the console it's on. We can now play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe anywhere, at any time. What's better, organizing races against friends is now easier than ever, whether it's due to the Joy-Cons doubling as two separate controllers, or the ability to easily connect to other Nintendo Switch consoles wirelessly.
That Battle Mode Though!
If there was one mode that was sorely lacking in Mario Kart 8, it was most certainly Battle Mode, or at least, a true Battle Mode. Nintendo was pretty lazy in the original game and reused existing tracks for Battle Mode, which made it feel like a completely throwaway option for those that wanted some more intense head to head action. Deluxe brings that mode back in spectacular fashion.
There are eight completely brand new stages, some of which are Luigi's Mansion, Dragon Palace, and a Splatoon inspired stage called Urchin Underpass. On top of that, we now get additional modes, which completely change up the rules. In Bob-Omb Blast, players are constantly hurling the titular explosives at each other. Coin Runners will have you zooming around the stages trying to collect as many coins as you can. Shine Thief tasks players with collecting a Shine Sprite and holding on to it as long as possible, while trying to keep it away from others.
It's actually pretty crazy how much can be squeezed just out of this mode alone, especially if you have a few friends who are willing to hop in. If you have an extra set of Joy-Cons, that means you have the option to play four-player split screen, even in tablet mode, which is downright impressive. The small screen doesn't really help the situation, given that it's then broken up into four even smaller screens, but the fact that it's possible is certainly impressive.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is absolutely fantastic, and while I would have liked an entirely new entry, I can't fault Nintendo for wanting to beef up their existing racer. I'm a bit disappointed that Nintendo also went for a $60 price point, especially since Mario Kart 8 is now essentially 3 years old. Other games that have gone the "Definitive" route have been priced much lower due to them essentially being re-releases of old games, so it's tough seeing Nintendo not adopting that approach as well.
With the said, there's enough content here even if you've already played Mario Kart 8, thanks to its impressive and addicting new Battle Mode, or even the four additional Cups in case you've never bothered to buy the DLC for the Wii U game.
The fact that I can play this game anywhere, thanks to the Switches brilliant design, makes it a lot more appeal to me specifically and makes setting up matches with others a breeze. Even if I'm not playing multiplayer in tablet mode, setting it up on a TV is always relatively pain-free, and the fact that I'm always carrying at least two controllers (thanks to the brilliant design of the Joy-Con) means that I'm always multiplayer ready. I know that I'm more so gushing about the Switch and its brilliance, but it just adds so much more life to a game that's essentially three years old.
If you have yet to experience the fantastic kart racer, then you should without a doubt be getting Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. If you've perhaps played the original but never indulged in its DLC or always hoped for a more robust Battle Mode, then Deluxe still gets a hearty recommendation. However, the rest of you who have already played the original to death, and don't care much about the new Battle Mode, then you're much better off waiting a few months until a price drop comes around. For you, Deluxe will feel more like deja vu, than a brand new experience, and a few extra characters (with no actual stat differences) don't make much of a difference.