Porting Mario Kart 8 within the first 2 months of the Switch’s life was a no brainer for Nintendo. The racing series has always been a smash hit with fans. It's one that brings massive doses of nostalgia and endless hours of fun for everyone behind the steering wheel.
For those of you who may have missed Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, it introduced a variety of new and fresh mechanics. Karters experienced bigger tracks that enabled you to cling to ceilings and fly through the air with a paraglider. Thankfully, all was available on day one with the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe back in 2017, along with every DLC package from the original.
5 years on, is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still thriving? And is it as good as its predecessor?
Ready, Set, Go!!!!
42 characters and 48 tracks are at your disposal. Two of which include the new additions of Inkling Boy and Girl from Splatoon (another of Nintendo’s franchises). Everything is instantly accessible. However, you will still need to grind your way through the stages to unlock more karts and bikes with body, wheels and glider. It may seem like a fruitless task, but unlocking, and then matching the right vehicle to coincide with your chosen character is pivotal. Aligning the right Weight, Handling, Speed and Acceleration with your own playstyle is the only way to ensure your 1st place spot. Although the beauty of this game lies in you getting everything right, yet still finding yourself in 9th place or below by the end.
Beginners to veterans, kids to grandparents, Mario Kart has always found a way to create a world accessible to everyone. This iteration is no different. The standard 100cc and 150cc arcade modes provide the main way to have fun with players of all abilities. A classic for family nights in or a massive gathering.
For Veterans or people with a higher competitive ability, 200cc or time trials are the ones for you. And for previous players, they have added a new 200cc Time Trial mode to give you another challenge to master. You can hold 2 items at once, which makes for a bit more of a tactical shift. The position you are in and what items you have will completely change your outcome. For example, if you are first and have a horn item as your second item, and there's a blue shell coming straight for you, you’ll want to ditch that first item as quick as possible to repel the incoming shell!
Other helpful inclusions are there to assist those who maybe need a bit of a boost to catch up to others. Smart steering will automatically guide your kart to stay on the track, away from any pitfalls or edges. Auto accelerate will give you the freedom of not holding down the go button for the whole map. You can use the motion controls for a less competitive and more enjoyable time. With motion controls, trying to navigate the courses can prove a challenge. But it provides more laughter for most of your race. Finally, the last little addition to the gameplay is another gear to the drifting mechanic. Instead of two stages, there are now 3. This comes in the form of a final purple flame, giving players an added boost at the end of their drift.
Switch It Up
Mario Kart has always meant to be instantly playable. For that reason, the Switch is the perfect console for this franchise. In the past, depending on what game you had, you were either limited to home gaming or playing on the go. With the Switch, you get the best of both worlds. At home and fancy a game? Slot the switch into its dock. Travelling? Take out the joy-cons and play portably. You will have to play split-screen whilst in portable mode, but it really isn't a problem at all. Especially with the newest, bigger Switch now available.
To top it all off, Nintendo has already set you up with a two-player game. When releasing the joy-cons from the switch, you can either play with both controllers on single-player mode or turn them both sideways to create a two-player situation. So there is no need to buy additional accessories for the switch until you want a 3 or 4 player game on one console. Pro Controllers and non-brand controllers feel more comfortable for me, although the sideway joy-con has every button you need to excel to the top ranks.
Smash Brawl… On Vehicles
Potentially the biggest addition to the port is the 4 new battle game modes. Previously in Mario Kart 8’s one and only battle mode, players used items to blast away at others' balloons, bursting them all until you were the last standing. I’m not going to burst your bubble, as this has stayed due to its popularity. Instead, they have added 4 extra modes, Coin runner, Shine Thief, Bob-omb Blast, and Renegade Roundup.
As expected, Coin Runner requires you to drive around the course collecting and stealing coins from all the other players. Shine Thief involves players fighting over the sacred Shine Sprite, trying to hold on to it until the timer hits 0. Bob-omb Blast is an exact replica of the original battle mode, except all the items are bombs. Arguably, the most fun out of them all is Renegade Roundup, which has a stylistic theme of Cops and Robbers. As the only team battle mode, one team uses their piranha plants to catch and lock up the other team. The other team hide or drive away as fast as they can, earning points by freeing their captured teammates.
Racin’ All Over The World
The online multiplayer is a simple yet addictive aspect of the game. There isn’t much I can say about it other than telling you some people online are Wizards. I have spent hours upon hours trying to beat some people on this game, staying in the same lobby only to fail time and time again. Does that sound frustrating? 100%. Would I put myself through it again? Without a doubt. Even when you have a red shell crack you on the back just before you finish in 1st place, it's still a thoroughly endearing time.
I’d compare it to an episode of friends. You may have watched it over 1000 times, but that won't stop you from flicking it on again. Whether its in the background or you’re watching it with friends or family, the magnetism of the show is too strong. The same can be said for this game. You can be watching anything and have a few casual games by yourself, or be fully invested with a group of people. Either way, you’ll never stop asking the question: ‘Fancy a Quick Game of Mario Kart?’
To answer my aforementioned question simply, Yes! Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is even better than its predecessor and it is still thriving. Although Mario Kart’s sole purpose is to entertain, it still provides a beautiful graphic style. One that adds to the delight of driving around the courses.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a game for all players and all occasions. I think most people would agree in saying that if you don’t have this game in your collection, you are seriously missing out.