Re-releasing an almost three year-old game on the Nintendo Switch likely struck some as an obvious attempt to flesh out the system’s launch window. Indeed, gamers could be forgiven for initially shrugging off Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as a simple filler, but there is still some merit in playing through the title once more on new hardware. Fortunately, the company also saw it fit to breathe new life into the game with a number of heavily desired gameplay additions, which makes revisiting the title an absolute must for Switch owners.
Those that have weathered the eight cups featured in Mario Kart 8, as well as the four additional cups present via DLC, will still find drifting around every familiar twist and turn is as enjoyable as ever. Despite the racing aspect of the game instilling a serious sense of deja vu, this does little to change the fact that the Wii U original was a great game to begin with. With that said, the lack of any new tracks is sure to sour the experience of those that like to stick strictly to the raceways, but Nintendo opted to spend resources fixing up another aspect of the game – Battle.
One of the few issues brought up in our initial review of Mario Kart 8 was the lackluster Battle mode included in that iteration, but the house of Mario heard the voices of loyal consumers and has completely revamped it in order to give players a more traditional take on the tried and true options. Now there are a total of five different game types for players to dive into: Balloon Battle; Renegade Roundup; Bob-omb Blast; Coin Runners; and Shine Thief. Each offers a different way to play, with the Cops N’ Robbers mantra of Renegade Roundup being a very nice change of pace, and a total of three retro battleground and five brand new maps to play through.
It’s clear that there was a substantial focus placed on reviving Battle mode this time around, and Nintendo handily succeeded on this front. Each new area and mode is well worth checking out for players, and the completely redone option is sure to suck in hours of play time. It’s unquestionably the main selling point for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and it’s only further improved through the shareable nature and portability of the Nintendo Switch console itself.
Unwilling to call it quits there, the developers also added a handful of new characters that only further cement Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as the definitive version of the software. The newest racers that are joining the already expansive roster are none other than Bowser Jr., Dry Bones, King Boo, and Splatoon‘s boy and girl Inklings. The latter guest characters were a little out of left field when first announced, while the other three were some of the most wanted additions following the launch of the Wii U original. All in all, though, they help to round out what’s already a massive character select screen and they add a little more variety to the game.
Alongside these playable additions are three new karts for players to use in the form of the Koopa Clown, Splatbuggy, and Inkstriker. While these do little to mix up the gameplay, the addition of two new items whilst cruising around in these new whips is noteworthy enough to have an impact on both Battle and Grand Prix modes. These items are Boo and the Feather, the latter of which is locked exclusively to the game’s Battle mode, and they add a little more variety to the game – as does the new ability to hold two items instead of one at any given time.
From a visual perspective, the docked mode also provides gamers with the best looking iteration of Mario Kart 8. On Switch, the game clocks in at a resolution of 1080p with 60FPS, which is a decent changeup when compared to the 720p featured on the Wii U. Gamers will be hard fought to deny that this is a nice bonus for those that have an affinity for such graphical fluidity, and they’ll be happy to know that this smoothness carries over into the title’s online mode – which operated flawlessly during my hands-on time with it.
All in all, Nintendo could have just thrown Mario Kart 8 on the Nintendo Switch as was, but it didn’t. The company instead opted to help justify the purchase to those that have already experienced the original by adding a slew of new features. Meanwhile, those that own a Switch and missed out on this game’s initial debut have absolutely nothing holding them back now. This isn’t just the definitive version of Mario Kart 8, it’s the the measuring stick that all future franchise installments will be compared to.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is available exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on April 28, 2017. Game Rant was provided with a physical copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch for this review.