Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Is a Near-Perfect Port of an Already Exceptional Game

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Making its way to the Nintendo Switch is something that is more than just a port of one of my favorite Wii U games. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe keeps all of the things that made it great on the Wii U but updates the few things that were frustrating for fans of the game to create something that is as close to perfect as you can get for the Mario Kart racing franchise.

The gameplay and racing mechanics for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are as tight as ever, and with the wide variety of customization options for your kart any racing style should be able to find a successful combination of wheels, body, and glider. A few of the additions that I am really excited about are the newly added ultra turbo and the return of double items. The ultra turbo makes wider turns from the Wii U version that I would often stay drifting through worth while as you get an added boost that comes in handy, especially in 200 cc when you’re doing a combination of breaking and drifting and need that extra boost to come out of a tighter break drift turn. The return of double items also adds extra defensive capabilities if you’re in the front of the pack. I often try to stock up on shells or bananas in order to ward off any incoming red shells.

A split screen balloon battle showing the battle map and dual item functionality

The one new addition that I was surprised by was the smart steering mechanic. When I first popped in the game, I wasn’t able to make as tight of turns as I could on the Wii U version. Upon more investigation, I noticed this thing called smart steering was set to on in the menu. When I turned it off I was able to race like I could in the Wii U game and I was having much for success and less frustration. I could see this mechanic being very useful for beginning players who are worried about staying on the road, but to have it set to on as the default threw me off right away.

If you see the antenna on the back of your kart lighting up, Smart Steering is on.

The graphics are still as spectacular, clean, and magical as they were when the Wii U version came out. I find myself getting lost in each individual track and trying to pick up on the details that I didn’t notice before. Nintendo did not spare a single detail in the reconstruction and redesign of some of these tracks. I recently played MK8D with a full group of my friends, and the game still looked quite good despite the dip in frame rate that occurs when you have more than 2 players at one time. I am also a big fan of how this game runs in handheld mode, and I really love that an HD Mario Kart game with this much content is portable.

Since this element didn’t change at all, I will only touch on it briefly, but one of my favorite elements of this game is the soundtrack. When MK8 first came out, it was accompanied by videos of the recording sessions for the various tracks, and I was blown away by the quality. I hope this live music trend is one that Nintendo continues for all of their future games.

The biggest change with MK8D is arguably the one that it needed the most, and that is the redesigned Battle Mode. Making a return to its Battle Mode roots, the karts once again enter the arena to duke it out instead of the regular courses. There are 8 different arenas to battle in, and 5 different modes to compete in. Here’s a brief outline of each one:

  • Balloon Battle – The classic battle mode where the objective is to pop the balloons of your opponents.
  • Renegade Roundup – This is a spin on cops and robbers where you have to avoid the groups with the Piranha Plants until time runs out.
  • Bomb-omb Blast – The return of the double dash classic where you play balloon battle but exclusively with bomb-ombs as the weapons.
  • Coin Runners – Here the objective is to collect as many coins as possible in the time limit, both in the wild and from other players.
  • Shrine Thief – Which is a kart version of keep away where you take a sunshine sprite and keep it away from other teams and racers.
Icons for each of the battle modes: Shrine Thief, Coin Runners, Balloon Battle, Bomb-omb Blast, Renegade Roundup

These enhanced battle modes add a greater variety to the multiplayer capabilities of this game and add to this enhanced port something that the Wii U version didn’t have.

In addition to the redesigned Battle Mode, there are a few new additions to the game that add more content and more customization to an already expansive game:

  • All of the DLC from the Wii U version is included in this game and is accessible right away. This includes all DLC characters, kart pieces, and tracks.
  • The items are expanded to include the classic Boo item that allows your racer to steal another player’s items and also the feather item that allows players to jump over other items and hazards.
  • In addition to all of the racers from MK8, King Boo, Dry Bones, Bowser Jr. and the Inklings from Splatoon make there way to the track! You can also unlock Gold Mario by earning a first place trophy in all of the Grand Prix Cups in 200 cc.
The inklings from Splatoon have joined the race!

One of my favorite parts of this game is playing online. Whether it is versus, battle, or tournament modes, the online mode really isn’t much different from the Wii U version. That being said, it’s still a ton of fun to challenge your skills by playing others from around the world!

Gold Mario is unlocked by earning a first place trophy in every Grand Prix Cup, including 200 cc

CONCLUSION
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Mario Kart franchise, and with the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe the future continues to look bright for this action packed racer. I wouldn’t be surprised if they added even more DLC for this game, and used this near perfect game as a platform for even more new courses and additions.

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