Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch) Preview

By Jorge Ba-oh 24.01.2017 1

Review for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch

The ultimate party game and family favourite is coming to Nintendo Switch this April. The bringer of arguments and heated photo finishes: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Instead of an all new entry in the Japanese game maker's long-running series, Nintendo is opting for a spruced up version of the Wii U edition with bonus content. How does the flagship racer perform on the new Switch hardware? Cubed3 took the racer for a spin during a recent Nintendo Switch Premiere event.

Mario Kart 8 represents one of the company's biggest instalments to date - a lengthy number of courses, more characters than you could shake a blue shell at, and a comprehensive online mode. It is perhaps also one of Nintendo's most striking projects to date, with lush, vibrant visuals and gravity-defying course designs. So good is it, in fact, that it is still one of the Wii U's best titles. The prospect of replicating this on the move is one tempting offer indeed.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch

Mario Kart 8 was an ambitious title that, despite solid reviews across the board, was plagued by some peculiar balancing issues and a lukewarm battle mode. Nintendo, being Nintendo, tried to shake up the formula with tweaks to the core formula to reinvigorate a franchise that could have grown stale. These minor changes did leave a sour taste, especially where a little RNG and lack of defensive items could spoil an otherwise solid dash to first place. DLC patches, packed with additional characters and courses, came and went, but the gameplay issues still remained.

Fortunately, with the Nintendo Switch release, Nintendo has gone in and reworked some of the game's core fundamentals, back to the setup that's been key since Mario Kart 64: being able to hold items and pick up additional ones along the way. This very minor change has aired out the gameplay hindrances from the get-go. In the handful of races sampled during the Switch event, the flow was instantly bathed in instant nineties nostalgia. Mario Kart has returned in fine form. Rubber banding, where computer-controlled characters keep drawing closer, seems to be toned down in the races tried out - allowing for a more skill driven approach, rather than relying primarily on luck.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch

Nintendo has also fiddled with the much criticised Battle Mode from the original Mario Kart 8. The Wii U version was met with raised eyebrows when plopping racers to battle on actual, full-length tracks, rather than arenas designed for competitive balloon popping. The result: long, drawn-out, and tedious battles that never seemed to end. Perhaps when Mario eventually retires, this is how his days will end up, but certainly not for a flagship racer. A failed experiment rectified in the Switch release - the tight corridors, haunted houses, and tiered decks are back and on the attack. For anyone who's played any classic Mario Kart game, it's just as remembered - fluid, tight and utterly rewarding.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch

Since Nintendo revealed the Switch hardware, there has been plenty of speculation as to whether the console was up to the job. Could it run Wii U titles and maintain performance on the move? Can the Nintendo Switch go beyond what its predecessor was capable of? The short answer, at least with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, is that it runs exceptionally well when playing on the TV screen - it almost looks as if Nintendo has sprinkled polish here and there. The all-important question, though, is how the game performs when on the go. Untethered, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe runs at blistering pace, popping out all the intricate details and - thanks to the relatively smaller screen - looks ever so inviting. With the hardware offering instant two-player, thanks to the detachable Joy-Con controllers, it works well when the tablet portion is resting on a table as a portable screen.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch

Final Thoughts

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the most comprehensive release yet, and seems to be one of the Nintendo Switch's most promising titles for its launch period line-up. It is a shame that there appear to be no additional Grand Prix courses or content designed for shorter, on-the-go sessions (think missions from Mario Kart DS), though. However, the revitalised battle mode, additional characters, and solid portable performance make it a good contender for any new Switch owner.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Driving

Players

8

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Whoever hasn't played this on Wii U and picks it up on Switch is in for one hell of a good game. But even with the proper battle mode, which should have been in MK8 (no excuses), with no new GP tracks added, I'm just not going to double-dip on this one. And it kinda makes me worried that MK9 will be a few years away on Switch, as I fear they may use this as the sole MK game on the system. It just wouldn't be right to have two MKs on the same system, with one potentially pulling online users away from the other.

The only thing I can think Nintendo might do is produce a couple more DLC packs like they did for MK8 on Wii U, but even then, I would be hard-pushed to rebuy the game and buy the DLC on top of it unless the game itself goes pretty cheap.

Don't think Nintendo has done the right thing for those that invested heavily into the original game, personally, but newcomers will get something pretty awesome.

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