Review – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

This may seem hyperbolic, but Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, not Breath of the Wild, is the absolute best reason to own the Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the pinnacle of Mario Kart, a way to show off the Switch and the perfect game for playing on the go. Or at home.

Or anywhere really. It’s just that good.

Mario Kart 8 on Wii U was nearly flawless. It had all the hallmarks of an incredible Mario Kart. Speed? Check. Great tracks? Check. Customisation out the wazoo? Check.

Battle Mode? Unfortunately, no. No check.

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Mario Kart 8’s Battle Mode was pitiful at best. Having players drive around the existing tracks, collecting coins and weapons to pop each other’s balloons just wasn’t very much fun. All that’s changed in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe though.

Now, there are dedicated Battle Arenas and Modes. The eight new arenas are just total win and when you include the return of the Boo and Feather items, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe feels closer to classic Mario Kart Battle than ever before.

Instead of just including the standard Balloon Battle, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also features four other Battle Modes; Shine Thief, Renegade Roundup, Coin Runners and Bob-Omb Blast.  Some of these modes have appeared in Mario Kart before, but they’re even better now and the ‘cops and robbers’ style Renegade Roundup is a real highlight.

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Players use Piranha Plant power ups to try to capture the opposing team’s players and put them in jail. It’s absolute chaos, but in the good, Mario Kart kind of way.

Also included in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is absolutely everything from the Wii U version’s DLC, 200cc unlocked from the very beginning as well as five new characters; King Boo, Bowser Jr. Dry Bones and the Inkling Girl and Boy from Splatoon. Players can now carry two items at a time, a change that adds a surprising amount of strategy and depth to the madness of Grand Prix.

Before, you’d have to hang onto that Horn just in case a Blue Shell was headed your way. Now, you can get lucky and have a Shell or Banana trailing behind you with a Horn in reserve. Choosing when to use an item can make or break a race. Unfortunately you can’t switch items like with Double Dash, but it’s still a welcome change.

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Basically, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an absolute stellar package, including everything fans could possibly want. The fact that it’s on the Switch just makes it even better.

Mario Kart 8’s gameplay makes it perfect for gaming on the go as well as the big screen. That’s why Mario Kart 7 was such a success. But with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, there are so many ways to play it’s almost silly.

First, you can play with your Switch docked with players either using one Joy-Con each, a Joy-Con Grip, Pro Controller or any combination of the three. You can also play with the Switch in tabletop mode with players huddling around the Switch and using any of the above control methods. And finally, you can play in handheld mode. Let me tell you, I’m fairly confident that Mario Kart 8 is the best game to play on a commute ever.

Since I’ve been playing it on my Switch, I’ve missed my Tram and Train stops not once or twice, but about a dozen times. I don’t even mind! It just means I get to squeeze one more game in before I get home. It really is totally and utterly addictive.

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To help new players get involved, Nintendo has included some Nintendo-esque features, but they’re far less intrusive than previous efforts; ahem, Super Guide.

Before (and during) a race, players can choose whether to enable or disable Auto Drive, Steer Assist and Motion Controls. I personally prefer them all to be turned off, but if you’ve got younger players having a go, the Steer Assist is a big help. Probably not at 200cc, but if you’re racing your kids or younger siblings at 200cc, then you’re probably a monster.

Just saying.

If you get tired of walloping your friends and neighbours then the online multiplayer will definitely keep you going. As with the Wii U version, you can select a region and race type and head off to try to become the best. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be excited for middle of the road. It’s really tough, but still a ridiculously good time.

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Nintendo has wisely kept the Wii U chat system in place, allowing players to select pre-filled phrases. If not for this, I’m sure quite a few people would be on the receiving end of furious tirades. They work better in person anyway.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the reason to own the Switch and the best way to convince naysayers to buy one. It’s perfect for your trip into work, a boozy party with friends or for showing your kids how much better you are at video games than them.

Perfectly Mario Kart, perfectly Nintendo, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the complete package and as close to perfection as it gets.


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was reviewed using a retail copy provided to PowerUp! by Nintendo.

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Leo Stevensonhttps://powerup-gaming.com/
I've been playing games for the past 27 years and have been writing for almost as long. Combining two passions in the way I'm able is a true privilege. PowerUp! is a labour of love and one I am so excited to share.

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