May 12, 2017 by Sean McCole
Blue shells — the bane of every Mario Kart player’s existence.
Countless numbers of men and women on the race track have been lost to these monstrosities. I’ve lost too many friends to the destruction caused by the blue shell and it pains me every time I see its spikes flying down the course.
And now, thanks to “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” you can suffer the pain they inflict upon you and your friends anywhere on your brand-new Nintendo Switch.
“Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is the definitive edition of “Mario Kart 8” on the Wii U, but this is not your typical re-release. Nintendo had done all in its effort to make this the best version of “Mario Kart” to date.
“Deluxe” includes all characters and tracks from the original game, and all of its downloadable content, for a total of 48 race tracks. Five new characters have also been added, including King Boo, Bowser Jr. and the Splatoon Inklings, bringing the character to over 40 racers. And thankfully if you are a returning player all courses, characters and engine classes are unlocked from the jump.
But that isn’t all “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” adds to the experience.
The most exciting addition to the game is the revamped battle mode. The battle mode in the original “Mario Kart 8” was uninteresting to say the least. You could only play on the race courses, which didn’t work for battle mode at all, and the only mode was Balloon Battle. While Balloon Battle is a classic, it didn’t make sense on the racing tracks, and made the mode unplayable.
This time around, the experience is greatly improved. It has eight brand new battle arenas, including three remastered from older games, and a total of five modes.
Shine Thief returns from “Mario Kart: Double Dash!” along with the new disappointing coin Runners and Balloon Battle is still present but not as good as in the past. Instead of Balloon Battle being elimination based, it is now points-based, which is a disappointment.
But the highlight of these modes is the new team-based 16-player Renegade Roundup, “Mario Kart’s” take on cops and robbers. The idea is that one team is the cops, with a piranha plant on their kart, and they must catch the other team, the renegades, by eating them with their piranha plant before the time expires. If the renegades get caught, they get placed into a cage where they must be freed by fellow teammates, who hit a button underneath their cage to put them back into play.
This mode has been the most fun I have had with “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” so far. While I love racing, time trials and classic battle modes, this surpasses them all. If you can get four friends in a room and play this mode it is chaotic, competitive and most of all fun. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and by the end you will be yelling at both your teammates and enemies. The adrenaline rush you get from freeing everyone on your team or catching the last renegade is rewarding and will keep you coming back for more. It is also fantastic online getting even seemingly more ridiculous and challenging.
My only issue with the mode is the fact that matches can only be played in even numbers, like best of four. Because of this, most matches go to draw. Nobody wants to end in a draw,; and yes, while it is possible to win, why not make it best of five to ensure there will be a winner every time?
From a gameplay perspective, there have been a bunch of minor changes, but overall it feels very much the same. It is the same responsive, and tight gameplay that you come to expect out of “Mario Kart.” The most major mechanical changes are the ability to hold two items at the same time, a la “Mario Kart: Double Dash!” and the addition of features such as Auto Acceleration and Smart Steering.
The dual items are cool, but they require a bit of getting used to. The first time you play a few races on “Deluxe,” you will notice a lot more items on the playing field. While this could cause some classic “Mario Kart” frustration, you eventually get used to it.
The Smart Steering and Auto Acceleration features are more geared toward novice players. Both the features help inexperienced drivers stay off the grass and not fall off the course. The feature is great for any younger children that want to enjoy the fun with the frustration but experienced players will turn these features off immediately.
Some other small tweaks that were made to gameplay include the addition of a third level to drift boost called super drift boost, which serves as a new tool for experienced racers. Two other items have also been added to the game: boo and feather. Boo is a returning item from the series that allows you to steal another driver’s item, while the feather item allows you to jump at any time, which especially comes in handy during Renegade Roundup.
Technically, the game is still a beauty as well. The cartoony graphics and brilliant track design really make the game’s visual pop. The game looks great running at 1080p on the TV,and just as good at 720p on the Switch tablet.
The game runs great at both resolutions, and never drops frames even with hectic 4four player games and the load times even are improved. Plus, the portability of the Switch is a major upside for the game. You can complete a few quick matches while waiting for class to start, or take your Switch outside with friends on a nice day for multiplayer fun.
“Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is not just the definitive edition of “Mario Kart 8,” it is the best “Mario Kart” we have seen yet. With its rebuilt Battle Mode, a plethora of new content and portability on Nintendo Switch, “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” is a hard package to beat. There is enough content here even those who played tons of “Mario Kart 8” will still finds many new things to do either alone or with friends. “Mario Kart 8” is a must-own if you love local multiplayer and is a great addition to any Nintendo Switch library.