Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review: What’s Old is New Again

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So the new Nintendo Switch console came out lately, and a new Nintendo console calls naturally for a new Mario Kart, although to be fair this is the fastest turn around time in the series; a month and a half as opposed to one or two years. Although that might be because Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is actually just a re-release of the original Mario Kart 8 for Wii U but with some bells and whistles added. But does it actually justify a re-release or should they have moved on.

Presentation

Given that Mario Kart has no story mode, we’re skipping straight to presentation and I must say that this game is downright gorgeous. It can be a bit hard to tell the difference sometimes but Deluxe got a bump from 720p to 1080p when using the Switch dock. A change like that might be minor and to be fair it’s not the real star in terms of changes Deluxe makes. On that note the audio is also unchanged from the original 8 and by that I mean it’s still one of the best Soundtracks in gaming. Themes like N64 Rainbow Road or Excitebike make my ears orgasm everytime and I love listening to them every chance I get.

Design

The biggest change to Deluxe in terms of design is the overhauled battle mode. This mode scrapped the racing, put you in more up close maps, gave you a bunch of items, and told you to wreck the other guy’s day. It’s a time honored idea but the original release of 8 had a terrible Battle Mode. Balloon Battle was the only mode available and there weren’t even new maps like the other games in the series, it was all on racetracks and it just did not work.

Thankfully Deluxe bought back the spirit of the original Battle mode. New arena maps specific to the mode were made and new modes like Shine Thief and Renegade Roundup were added. In all I’d say it’s the best edition of Battle mode in the series and when you get friends together, boy you’re gonna have some fun. Swear laden, controller gripping fun, but fun nonetheless.

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On top of that all the DLC from 8 is available out of the box: you can play the other 4 cups that were released as DLC; the insane 200cc mode is available, characters like Link, Isabelle, and Villager are playable; and all the DLC karts are added, even the Mercedes DLC.  On top of that new characters like the Inklings from Splatoon, King Boo, and Gold Mario were bought in for Deluxe. The Deluxe exclusives don’t make the game a must buy but they’re nice either way.

Gameplay

Have you played a Mario Kart game? Good, then you know how Deluxe plays; race, get items, wreck shit up. Of course the new thing the original 8 bought was anti-gravity and yep it’s still here and yep it does result in the most creative course design in the series now that gravity isn’t a mitigating factor. Suck it, Newton. On top of that I still hold 8 as the best in the series in terms of gameplay and Deluxe just adds kindling to that fire of love.

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The biggest change made is the return of the second item slot from Mario Kart Double Dash. You can’t swap between items, but the addition does change how you strategize in races, so it doesn’t feel like a cheapo gimmick. That would be the new smart steering and auto acceleration gimmicks, AKA the game plays itself mode. These ensure that if you don’t mind losing then feel free to not even pick up the controller. Not only do these not add to Deluxe, they actually take away as smart steering means you can’t use the offroad strategies. Thankfully, you can turn it off so it’s not too bad, it just feels unnecessary.

Verdict

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a fun Mario Kart game but if you bought the original release of 8 and the DLC, you can skip this installment. But for those who haven’t (which is most folks given that the Wii U failed) this is perhaps the best in the series and one you owe it to yourself to pick up. And the fact that it’s portable? *chucks Mario Kart 7 out the window*

9/10 Amazing

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