Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review

May 5, 2017

Growing up with PlayStation consoles in my house, I didn’t get my first taste of Mario Kart until Mario Kart DS. While it certainly wasn’t the best game to begin flirting with the Mario Kart series, it did enough to get me interested enough to buy Mario Kart 8 for my Wii U. The shifts in gravity, the tight controls and excellent DLC more than made up for the lack of a compelling battle mode, which was the game’s only real failing. Now, swap in a great battle mode, include all the DLC in the base package and make the game portable and you have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch which is one of the most compelling racing packages around.

Once upon a time I used to buy remasters of my favourite games, but after quickly realising that I didn’t have the time to play too many games, I set them aside for new experiences. That thought was at the forefront of my mind when I first booted Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on my Nintendo Switch, but I can safely say that I was quickly convinced that it was well worth my time to play. While a large portion of the gameplay is identical to what I remember, the portable nature of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe makes the game truly amazing. Remember the original Switch reveal video, with people crowding around a console in tabletop mode at a party? That quickly became my life, as I took my Switch around to friends’ houses, work and parties, always sure to find people to play and have a good time with. While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is certainly an amazing game to play, I believe that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the game that truly shows off the Switch’s unique hybrid nature. Effortlessly switching from handheld mode on the bus to TV mode and being able to continue the race against my friends is amazing and this alone makes Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a compelling purchase if you like to play locally with friends.

If, like me, you bought Mario Kart 8 on Wii U you’ll already be familiar with most the content in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Along with the game’s original 32 courses, the package also includes the 16 courses that were released as DLC. All of these courses feel just as colourful and creative as before, with them also looking just a tad sharper to my eye. While you may have raced these courses before, the sheer number of them means that the game always feel fresh and interesting when you play it. Along with those DLC courses, the game also includes a number of characters that never appeared in Mario Kart 8. King Boo, Dry Bones and Bowser Jr. return, and Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl make their debut to the series. As with all characters, each one has their own strengths and weaknesses and add more variety and customisation to how you play the game. That all of these courses and characters are unlocked as soon as you boot the game means that you’ll be trying new characters and courses for quite a long time.

The large variety of courses and characters are put to great use over the many different modes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, including Grand Prix, VS. Race and Time Trial. There is even a new speed classification for those who want a bigger challenge than ever before, 250CC. If this sounds like too much for you, even with the excellent controls in the game, you can take advantage of two brand new assists in the game. Auto-accelerate does exactly what you think, but the more important addition is smart steering. Smart steering helps to prevent you from driving off courses, righting your kart at the last possible moment. You’ll still lose speed, so it isn’t going to instantly make you a winner, but it does mean that players that aren’t as familiar with gaming can have a great time with everybody else. This is one of the most inclusive features I have found in a game, and it is a wonderful thing to see.

The biggest addition to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, however, is the brand new Battle Mode. While the original Mario Kart 8’s Battle Mode was laughable at best, this latest incarnation is nothing short of fantastic. My personal favourite of the new Battle Mode games is Renegade Roundup, a cops and robbers-style mode where two teams face off. One team permanently has Piranha Plants attached to the fronts of their karts that they use to capture and detain their opponents. The other team has to stay out of reach, while also swooping in to bust their team mates out of jail after they’re captured. It creates an interesting push and pull, as you weigh up the dangers of making a run to release your friends as the piranha police bear down on you. This and the other Battle Mode games are supported by some excellent map design, with a collection of visually interesting maps full of twists and turns.

All of these modes, characters, courses and vehicles are playable solo against CPU characters, as well as locally and online with up to 3 friends on a single console. While the game does dip to 30fps when playing with 3 or more people on the one console, it’s an understandable concession and doesn’t hamper the experience at all. I was able to find matches online within a minute whenever I played and I never had any issues with lag or latency, which can’t be said for a lot of other games that I play online.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is all about letting you play the way you want, where you want and how you want and it certainly excels at all of those. The massive amount of content, some new but mostly old, the new inclusive features and the ability to play anywhere make the game a must buy. If you want a game that shows off the Switch’s unique hybrid nature while also being incredible to play, then Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the perfect choice.


- Smart steering is amazingly inclusive
- Switch's best use of different play modes so far
- New Battle Mode is incredibly fun
- Massive number of course and characters to play


- Most content is the same as the original release

Overall Score: