Updated: Oct 8, 2018
When the long-running franchise of Mario Kart is discussed, most of the time, fond memories of wild swearing and excitement will fill any Nintendo fan’s mind. This latest rendition of the established franchise fortunately holds true to that tradition. Its racing is fun, frantic and overall a blast to both play and enjoy. Some truly outstanding stages for heated races litter the game, from faithfully nostalgic tracks from the original SNES title to brand-new courses that challenge common tropes of the series. While a lack of worthwhile single-player content may throw some players off, there is no denying that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a terrific experience that is bursting at the seams with both familiar and original content and is also the result of Nintendo’s perfection of their kart-racing gameplay, gameplay that has proven to be a staple of the racing brand.
Like other Nintendo titles, the clear focus for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is its gameplay. Running at a smooth 60 FPS in both handheld and docked, the sheer thrills of a race are always apparent. Never once during my experience did I encounter any noticeable drops in the performance of the title. This is made even more impressive with the beautiful courses and backdrops that are present during the 24 tracks. These courses are lit with a massive attention to detail and creates what is easily the best-looking and running game available for the Nintendo Switch. The technical achievement of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe cannot be understated, especially for such a low-powered console as the Nintendo Switch. However, while it is impressive on its own terms, in relation to its original Wii U release, there is very little noticeable difference. There are some miniscule adjustments to lighting and detail, but they never add anything to the experience that the original was able to create. It is easily the most disappointing aspect of the title’s presentation and portrays the game as just another mere port, a port that never takes full advantage of the enhancements in technical specs that the Nintendo Switch offers over its predecessor. While it may look beautiful for a Nintendo Switch title, there is no denying that it doesn’t even match the shockingly realistic designs of Forza or other current-gen racing titles, to say nothing of how it will look with the next generation.
While the presentation does much to bolster the quality of the experience, the memories that players create from Mario Kart is in its blusterous gameplay. As a result, any new titles in the franchise would be deemed worthless if it didn’t provide the same sense of fun from the tense races. Fortunately, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe proves to be successful on that front. Often times, the races are exciting and momentous for all players involved. Racing down Rainbow Road has never felt better in any previous title in the series.
While there are few additions to the standard gameplay of the franchise, the ones that are implemented prove to be worthy additions. For example, the anti-gravity sections proved to be a blast as they added a brand-new strategic element to the experience and made the game feel more innovative and inspired.
However, as with the presentation, there simply isn’t enough difference in gameplay to warrant a purchase from any players of the original title on the under-performing Wii U. Outside of a somewhat pointless addition in Battle Mode, no new innovations or features are added to compel players of the original title to pay the price of $59.99 for Deluxe. There simply isn’t enough difference in this release to make it worth it.
However, the reason why many players will still pick up the title is due to the local multiplayer. Having tested the mode on a few occasions, I am delighted to say that it works just as any fan would want it to. Being able to have a tense race at any time is a breathtakingly novel idea, even though the puny controllers are less than ideal for big hands. I encountered no technical dips in the local 2-player mode and only had a slight decrease in frame rate when switching over to 4-player. The online mode works just as well, providing players with an ability to challenge players from all over the world. Finding and joining a match is quick and relatively easy. It may be frustrating that chats have to be done via the app on a mobile device, but that annoyance brushes away completely in the sheer heated excitement of a race.
Ultimately, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a worthy addition to any Nintendo Switch player’s library. It is an exciting game that has some beautiful backdrops and scenery that make it easily the best looking game available for the console. Running at a silky smooth 60 fps, there is no other racing game available for any Nintendo console that even rivals the quality that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is able to afford for its $59.99 price. It may never offer anything new for players of the original release on the Wii U, but for anyone else it is a spectacular experience that earns its place as one of the best games for the Nintendo Switch.
Score: 8.2 out of 10