First things first, this is no remake, with it being more like an 'Ultimate Edition' package, something that is very important to note for anyone considering double-dipping after playing the Wii U version extensively. The Switch edition of Mario Kart 8 does come with shorter loading times, a higher resolution, some new filtering, and a fixed frame-rate (60fps, even for portable mode), but those wondering if there are any specific graphical enhancements, the answer is no, it is still recognisable for being a Wii U title. There is also no voice chat included here, so those with the game on Wii U and willing to grab the DLC (or having already done so) will be wondering what the draw is of Deluxe. Sadly, there is none… so far. Perhaps new DLC will make this more of an enticing package in the long-run, but for now this is purely for newcomers to the eighth iteration of the popular kart racer. Nintendo is indeed clearly aiming this at those that never touched Mario Kart 8 before, polishing the already excellent product until its sheen is blinding.
With that said, then: "Welcome all those that never played Mario Kart 8 before! Where have you been?" Deluxe offers 42 characters (including Inkling Boy and Girl from Splatoon, King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr.), 48 courses (including all the DLC from the Wii U game), 23 weapons (welcoming back the jump Feather for Battle Mode, and item-stealing Boo), five Battle Mode types across eight tracks (that include older, classic courses), 200cc added to the Time Trials section, the chance to hold two items at one time (no switching between them, though), a new third level of boost when sliding round corners, and more vehicle customisation options than you can shake a stick at, with extras unlocking the more you play.
The actual courses, characters (with the exception of Gold Mario that unlocks after beating all cups on 200cc, bringing the total actually to 43 characters), and speed classes (even the 'Mirror Mode') are all unlocked right from the off, so anyone that loved challenging themselves to unlock new modes will be sorely disappointed. The emphasis seems to be more on beating Ghosts in Time Trial, playing with friends online or locally, and having a blast in the battle arena, merely beating cups for sheer self-satisfaction.
Some will be fine with this, whilst others will lament the fact that there is nothing pushing them to actually work through all of the cups on offer, other than that it would be a waste of money not to bother. It is a tough one because this is without a shadow of a doubt the most 'complete' Mario Kart to date, even surpassing the greats of Super Mario Kart (SNES), Mario Kart: Super Circuit (GBA), and actually topping the legendary Mario Kart 64 (N64). Shocking, but true! Will working towards unlocking Gold Mario be enough for people to plug away through all the cups, though?
Whatever the case, for a lot of people this is going to be seen as the next portable entry, and for that fact alone it will be seen as worth the entry fee. Being able to take the pinnacle of Mario Kart action on the road, without sapping anywhere near as much battery life as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild does, means this will become an instant must-buy for any Switch owner desperate for the character-based racing fun this brings to the table.
Ramping up to 200cc also brings with it super-fast speeds, more akin to perhaps the F-Zero series, or Shin'en Multimedia's fantastic Switch release, FAST RMX, so anyone thinking that Mario Kart is a slow-paced, easy ride should think twice. Yes, there are options to help younger gamers, or those less adept at racing, to enjoy the experience (such as "Smart Steering" that helps prevent them falling off tracks, and the wide range of control options, including a pair of Switch wheels that lands at launch on 28th April and allow for the Joy-Con to be slotted neatly in for motion steering), but Nintendo is trying to cater for everyone with Deluxe, and has done a mighty fine job in doing so.
Cubed3 loved Mario Kart 8 back when it launched in 2014, and the staff adored it so much that a second review, basically a love letter to the game, was done over half a year later, expressing how fresh the experience still felt. Both reviews are well worth looking into for the intricacies of the game. Here and now, almost three years after landing on Wii U, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe feels as good as ever, if not more so thanks to being able to play in portable mode, complete with motion steering included. Be it playing online with folk from around the world in Battle Mode, or taking the Nintendo Switch round to a friend's house and huddling around one screen with two Joy-Con, reminiscing about hunching over trying to see one quarter of a small TV screen back in the split-screen Mario Kart 64 heyday, or just sitting back and challenging yourself against 200cc Ghosts from around the world (or flick down to 150cc if it is too tough) and then blasting through Grand Prix mode for fun, mixing and matching the different vehicle types and add-ons with a multitude of various characters, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ultimate way to enjoy the Mario Kart experience.