One of the myriad complaints levelled at Nintendo’s last console, the Wii U, was that many of the games shunted onto it were ports of games already available on consoles that preceded it.
The fear surrounding the Switch was that Nintendo would continue with this trend – especially since the console’s launch trailer featured footage from games that were launched on the last gen. Included in that list was Mario Kart 8, which first landed on the Wii U back in 2014.
It’s a game that most hardcore Nintendo fans would likely have played to death by now, so what’s it doing on the Switch? Is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (a slightly expanded port for the Switch of Mario Kart 8) money for old rope as far as the Nintendo faithful are concerned? Nope, that’s not even likely the case. In fact, it’s a rather canny move on Nintendo’s part.
Given that the Wii U woefully underperformed in the market during its lifespan, it’s likely that only the hardest of the hardcore Nintendo fan invested in it.
This same audience jumped on the Switch like sharks on meat in a tank filled with chum, so its members will have no problem snapping up a copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe; due to Nintendo ditching discs for cartridges, there’s no chance of the Switch offering the same backwards compatibility the Xbox One does and it’d be a genuine loss if one of the best entries in this series wasn’t liberated from the Wii U.
Those who bought a Switch but didn’t bother with a Wii U are in for a treat; Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive racing title for your console. Well, until the next Mario Kart title comes along…
But this goes deeper than being a great racing game. Its unique selling point is that it successfully straddles the line between both the noob and veteran camps by being an amazing showcase for the Switch.
Nintendo’s new console banks its appeal it flexibility. This is a console that functions as a traditional home gaming hub, but that players can also enjoy on the go, whether solo or with a pack of friends. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe plays to those strengths; yes, you can sit in front of your big screen TV and torment your mates on the track at home, but you can also take this baby to the park and – depending on how many Joy-Cons you own – turn a picnic into a pissing contest.
That last sentence may sound like something one would pull off a PR statement (albeit one that would get its author fired), but it also happens to be true. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a title that’s as eminently enjoyable across the Switch’s different interfaces – a claim not all Switch titles can make – and the fact the game was absurdly good on the last gen makes it all the more impressive.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe manages a first in gaming; it provides enough tweaks and tuck to its committed core while throwing a huge slab of appeal to casual gamers and newbies, while putting them all on a level playing field. To wit, new players will be helped through the game’s auto-steering that helps them stay on the track.
At the other end of the spectrum, experienced players will be aided by the expanded weapons and third level boost; while these might sound inconsequential, noobs heading into the multiplayer mode will find that they make all the difference (read: you’ll be finishing last).
Veterans have a few more reasons to feel smug. First off, the Battle Mode offers more here; now there are eight tracks to hammer around in, which include some classics and some neat variations to boot. Then there’s the new Renegade Roundup, which is arguably the best mode this series has seen; it’s essentially PVP in which one side tries to sling the other into cages while the other works on freeing them. It’s a chaotic riot and probably the most innovative mode made for driving game in ages.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Verdict
In short, Nintendo has created one of the best ports ever made. Mario Kart 8 fans have enough here to justify buying the core game once again and as for you newbies… well, you’re in for one hell of a ride.
- Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was reviewed on a Switch. A retail copy was provided by the publisher.