Overall score 95

Mario Kart 8 on Wii U was a blast to play. It’s probably the best Mario Kart has been. However, it did lack a proper battle mode, which is what I would probably say is biggest negative the game had. The anti-gravity tracks was a nice change of things and the game was just fun to play online. It was further supported with great DLC too in the form of new tracks and a free update in 200cc. In short, Mario Kart 8 was simply a great game on the Wii U. So if you have yet to play that game due to not owning a Wii U, then I would highly recommend picking it up on the Nintendo Switch with no hesitation. As someone who has already experienced Mario Kart 8, is it worth double-dipping in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?

THE GOOD: Right off the bat, the Mario Kart team solves the biggest issue. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has an actual Battle Mode. Not the poorly designed one featured in the original. This is a separate mode with its own featured stages. If you liked the battle mode of previous Mario Kart games, you’ll enjoy what’s featured here. Not only did they bring back the traditional balloon battle mode, but they even created new modes for it. One exmaple is Shine Thief that will have a lone Shine appear on the field. Once the game starts, it’s a mad dash to grab the Shine and to hold onto it the longest until the countdown timer ends. It’s a fun and fast paced mode and can be quite hectic when you have the whole field trying to knock one person down with items in hopes of getting the Shine for themselves. There’s also a Cops and Robbers mode where one team must capture the other team with Pirahna Plants, but the prisoners can break others out in order to keep the match alive. Overall, it’s a major improvement over what was in the original and fully supports online play just like racing.

In terms of other content, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe includes all the DLC and 200cc mode. Even better, all the tracks, characters and race modes are available from the start. So there’s no need to play through the game on 50cc in order to unlock faster modes. All the kart customization items are still locked though, so you’ll need to gather up coins as you play the game.

One small new addition did make its way to the racing mode too. That’s with the ability to hold two items. Similar to how it was in Mario Kart: Double Dash, there will be double item boxes on the field, and grabbing one will net you two items. Or you can grab one item and hold onto it, and still pick up another item box. Unlike in Double Dash though, you can’t switch between the two, and will have to use the first item before being able to access the second one. That is a little disappointing, but I assume they removed it for balancing reasons. Still, it’s a neat addition to help change things up.

As I mentioned earlier, online play is still present and works for racing and battle modes. Featuring all the same amount of options like creating tournaments or creating lobbies with friends. With this, another small improvement was also made. That’s the ability to change your character and kart without having to leave the lobby. It was a odd thing in the original Mario Kart 8 where you had to exit a game lobby in order to change characters. Now, you just simply do so anytime between races without ever leaving the lobby.

One other neat feature of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has nothing to do with the game at all. It has to do with it being on the Nintendo Switch. Thanks to the Switch’s portability feature, you have a solid-looking Mario Kart that you can play on the go. The last Mario Kart I was really invested in was Mario Kart DS and that was thanks to having that game on-the-go and ready to play whenever. I can already see myself doing that with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Just turning the Switch on and doing some quick races before going on to other things, all without having to worry about turning on a TV and all that. Sure, there was Mario Kart 7 on 3DS, but Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the better experience for what I’m craving. Plus, with the ability to play with a single joy con, you already are well equipped for two player splitscreen at any time.

Also, the game does look slightly better and feels like it runs smoother overall as well. It’s nice to see that the resolution of the game was raised, and was able to maintain its smooth framerate. It is a bit disappointing that the game still reduces in framerate when playing three or four players in splitscreen, but it’s hard to not be pleased with how great and smooth this game runs.

THE BAD: Not much to complain about here since this is mostly the same from the original Mario Kart 8. Still, there are some odd issues and worries to be aware of. First of which is the online play. Most of my experience with the game has been rather smooth, from both wired and wifi play. I still encountered a couple communication errors, so it’s still not perfect. This is mainly just a worry since we will be getting more online featured games in the future on Switch, and if they have these same issues it’s gonna be a major problem. Especially since Nintendo is planning to charge a fee for online functions. Like I said though, hasn’t been too big a problem for me for the most part, but I’m hoping the issue become non-existant once their paid subscription comes around.

This next one is something not many will run into, but is an odd inclusion. That has to do with the game’s local wireless mode. You can connect with another Switch locally and play multiplayer with others in the same room. Once again, the portable nature of the Switch makes this a neat and easier thing to pull off than with console. Unfortunately, some weirdness goes on with the control availability when doing splitscreen on any of the Switch systems when in local play. When in splitscreen during local play, you can’t chooose to play with a paired joy con setup, meaning you can only play with a Switch Pro Controller or with a single joy con. So even if you’re playing wireless with three people on two Switch systems, the person alone on one system will still need to play with a single joy con, if they don’t have a Switch Pro Controller. An odd thing to have, and I’m not sure if it’s a system restriction more than a game one. Whichever the case, players will need to be aware of that.

My final issue is a hopeful wish rather than a huge complaint with the game. That’s with the lack of new race tracks. Though, I’m a bit conflicted about it since there’s already so much available. Future DLC would be nice for the game, but I’m also hoping that we get a proper Mario Kart sequel instead. Just know that no new tracks were added, which I don’t think is entirely a bad thing, but I felt the need to at least bring it up.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: Mario Kart 8 was a great game, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still manages to make improvements to it to make the game even better. Solving the biggest issue by not only adding in a traditional battle mode, but also creating new modes and stages for it. I would say that alone makes it worth the double-dip on Switch. It’s even easier to get back into since all the tracks and modes are already unlocked, so you can just jump into online racing or battle. Whether you’ve already played it before or looking to jump into it for the first time, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a necessity to play if you own a Nintendo Switch.

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