Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review
Mario Kart is as iconic and appealing as ever in this repackaged and buffed version for the Nintendo Switch Console, but is it something that is a necessity to own or is it possible to give this release a skip instead?
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe rocks! I just needed to get that statement out of the way so I could continue writing this review before I burst from excitement. As mentioned, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a repackage of the Original Wii U Mario Kart 8, but also comes bundled with brand new Nintendo Switch exclusive content, making this a semi-new experience for Mario Kart 8 fans and a whole lot of Adrenalin fun for experienced fans and newcomers to the hype-train. In all honesty, this release could easily have been called Mario Kart: Definitive Edition.
An Advanced Port (…and some!)
I think it would be extremely hard to find a gamer that does not honestly enjoy a kart-racer or at least to find a gamer that has not launched a volley of wacky weaponry at another gamer or NPC (Non-Player Character) before and sneered at the position they gained through their cartoonistic violence.
The first kart-racer I remember playing as a child was called Wacky Wheels for MS-DOS (PC), and not a lot has changed for kart-racers other than graphics, network capabilities and franchise hooks. The recipe for a successful kart-racer is simple, effective and in it’s ability to withstand the test of time. Mario Kart is a prime example of this success, as the first Mario Kart title hails back from 1992 on the SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) Console. At the time, Mario Kart could be considered as an “experiment” to see how the public would respond to Mario Spin-offs, but following the obvious positive reception, many more Mario Franchise branches were developed and launched.
With the recent launch of the Nintendo Switch Console, it only made sense to get one of the most recognized and popular Nintendo titles “ported” to a more modern platform that boasts it’s portability perks. Now you can enjoy Mario Kart on a TV Screen and mid race, grab the console, connect your Joy-Con Controllers and resume your race on the go without a lot of interruption. An additional bonus to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the reintroduction of Battle Mode, which the Wii U Version (Mario Kart 8) does not have, neatly complimenting the robust 42 Character Selection (New Racers include Bowser Jr., Dry Bowser, King Boo, and the Inkling Boys and Girls from Splatoon) and also the 48 Insane Grand Prix Tracks you can to choose from. In Battle Mode, there are Five Battle Types, namely: Balloon Battle, Bob-omb Blast, Shine Runners, Coin Thief and Renegade Roundup. The weapon items also see the return of “The Boo” and “The Feather”, plus the ability for players to carry two items at once, paving the way for real competitive carnage!
New or Very Young Players will greatly benefit from the Control Assists, “Smart Steering” and “Auto Accelerate” which can be accessed when Selecting Characters or at any time in the Pause Menu. Smart Steering is pretty much an “Auto Pilot” that will keep you on the Track at all times if you are battling to maintain your Hand-Eye Co-ordination, and if you are exceptionally lazy (or Four Years Old like my Youngest), Auto Accelerate will keep your kart in motion at all times as well, leaving you with only one job… shooting weapon items at your opponents!
More Than A Cliché
The Solo and Multiplayer Modes have so much to offer, with Tournaments ranging from “slow” to the ridiculously fast paced 200cc Cup Tournament, where Drifting becomes a Cornering Standard and Braking is Regularly required as a Change of Pace (horrible pun, I know). Time Trials become habitual addictions, where shaving even a few seconds off your best time consumes your every thought. Local Multiplayer is available for you to set up LAN Tournaments with up to Eight Players by using Four Nintendo Switch Consoles (Two Players Per Console) and Online Multiplayer facilitates Tournaments with up to Twelve Players.
When it comes to the Multiplayer Mode, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe performs like a champ, with loading times drastically improved upon that of Mario Kart 8’s loading time, but it is worth mentioning that the more players hop onto a Single Console (Maximum 4 Players Per Console), the slower the Frame Rate becomes, really putting the Nintendo Switch Console through it’s processing paces. The performance drop is not unbearable though, but does exist due to the rich textures, colours and graphics for a title of this genre. That being said, the graphics are magnificent, and stay magnificent between the TV to Table-Top or Handheld Mode switch, even with Split Screen Multiplayer.
The Sound Track is fun and the Sound Effects are playful, sticking to the traditional sounds we know, love and cherish. Going cross title as well in it’s accuracy, as an example with Link from The Legend of Zelda, who’s grunts are the same as in his native titles. I have been spending most of my time in Solo Play, collecting Cups and Kart Customization Items through Time Trial Runs, but my boys have obviously been playing the Local Multiplayer the most. The Controls are simple to grasp and master, and can be played in one of three ways: Handheld Mode with the Joy-Con Controllers connected to the Console; Table-Top Mode or TV Mode with the Joy-Con Controllers either in or out of Joy-Con Steering Wheel Adapters; and lastly, with the Joy-Con Pro Controller, depending on your preference. The Mechanics are challenging, but are also easy to get used to or figure out as you encounter specific settings and environments. These experiences apply to both myself and that of my children, even my youngest son, adding a great deal of value to the game’ ability to being “accessible” for all ages to enjoy.
Developed and Published by Nintendo, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was released globally on 28 April 2017, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch Console. At the time of this review, you could pick up a physical copy from BT Games for R799.00 or a digital version from the Nintendo Store at a low price of R669.00, but be prepared to download 7.3GB for a digital copy. Within the first three days of release, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe had sold over 1.2 Million copies around the world, making this the record breaking title for fastest selling in the franchise’ history. Rightly so, because the entertainment value, replay value and fan service value combined, easily position Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as the Second Best title for the Nintendo Switch, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild taking first place (in my opinion). The game is affordable, insanely fun and a really great addition to any Mario or kart-racer fan’s library, so do not delay any further, you can safely spend your money on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and not suffer from any Buyer’s Remorse.