Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review - Start Your Engines

Published: May 25, 2017 11:00 AM /

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Mario Kart 8 Preview Image

As the Nintendo Switch's library continues to expand, it was expected that some of the larger Wii U titles would end up making their way to Nintendo's new hybrid console. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe brings the complete package of Mario Kart 8 for Wii U to the Nintendo Switch, including all released DLC as well as some additional features exclusive to the Nintendo Switch version of the game. With the transition of DLC to the new game, some items and features are available from the start while others have been integrated into the games unlocking mechanic.

There are a variety of single player game modes in Mario Kart 8 allowing you a chance to test your skills and practice before facing off against other real racers. Grand Prix mode, the one that you'll likely be spending the most time in gives players to 12 choices of cup, the four ones standard in all Mario Kart games, four comprised of remakes of tracks from previous Mario Kart titles and four cups that were added to Mario Kart 8 as part of the Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing DLC packs. This means that there is a total of 48 playable tracks, including multiple variants of Rainbow Road! Each of these cups you'll be able to play at the different speed levels; 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, Mirror Mode, and the new 200cc mode. Each of these game modes also acts as the difficulty level of the CPU players starting with easy at 50cc before becoming increasingly difficult. You might rarely need to powerslide when racing at 50cc, whereas in 200cc not only is powerslide crucial but as is braking during corners otherwise you will fall off. There are no requirements for unlocking different courses so for seasoned players or those who want to jump into the deep end you can go straight to a cup that will challenge you. This tends to remove some sense of progression from the game with no real goal to playing other than collecting coins.

As well as Grand Prix there is also time trials where you can race against yourself fighting for your own best time, there are also ghosts left by the developers that you can use not only as a guide to finding the best racing line but also to give yourself a goal to beat. This can also be a great opportunity to really learn the racetrack and the variety of twists and turns, finding the best path in this mode might just help you get an edge on the competition coming back to Grand Prix mode or even online. In VS race you're able to create your own Grand Prix by selecting any track from any of the different cups, just like in Grand Prix as you cross the finish line you'll earn points based on your position in the race, complete four tracks and you can see whether you're standing on the finishers podium or if you're watching from the crowd.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Battle Mode
Better keep an eye out behind you, who knows when a shell is going to appear!

The final of the single player modes in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the battle mode which wasn't included in the Wii U version of the game. In battle mode you get to choose between eight stages; five brand new stages and ones based upon 3DS, Gamecube, and SNES battle mode maps. In Balloon Battle you need to keep your own balloons safe while hurling a variety of weapons at your opponents, you get a point for each balloon you score but once you've lost all your balloons your score gets reduced and you respawn ready to keep going. Bomb-omb Blast from Double Dash returns, this game is basically the same as Balloon Battle but item boxes only contain Bomb-ombs allowing each player to be carrying up to ten bombs at a time. In Coin Runners it's simply your aim to collect as many coins as possible within the time limit, getting hit by items though will cause you to drop them. Whether you want to focus on keeping everyone else down or try to steer clear of danger and collect as fast as possible is up to you. Shine Thief has also returned from Double Dash, this king of the hill mode has players collecting a Shine Sprite and hold onto it for 20 seconds, if you get hit by an item then you will drop the shine sprite. Lastly, Renegade Roundup is a brand new battle mode that is inspired by the game cops and robbers, the Authorities will be driving around the course with piranha plants attached to the front of their vehicles. Each time they get a Renegade the Renegade will get locked up in a cage above the stage, it's up to their team members to hit the key switches under their cages to free them. In this mode, the Authorities win if they manage to capture all of the Renegades, though if any is still loose by the time the clock runs out then they lose the game.

It's great to see battle mode back in Mario Kart, modes like Balloon Battle and Bomb-omb Blast with a full roster seem more up to luck than anything else. You will manage to plan to hit opponents with homing weapons and banana peels but you'll mostly find yourself lining up attacks only to miss as the small size of the arenas isn't as helpful for the line of sight weapons. If playing online expect to seem items flying every direction as players hope for a connection, this is even worse in Bomb-omb Blast as chain reactions will be a frequent occurrence. Coin Runners and Shine Thief perform well and give players a chance to really show off their skills, but the real star of the show though is Renegade Roundup. This game always serves to build up suspense for the everyone involved regardless of you're trying to free a friend, about to finally catch up to the person you've been tailing, or even if you're locked up feverishly honking your horn hoping someone takes pity on you and comes to your rescue.

Mario Kart 8 Online
Once you feel you've shown up your friends enough, hit the globe and find out you're really not as good as you thought...

Both the VS. Mode and Battle Mode can be completed in single player as well as in multiplayer, whether local or online. Locally you can play with up to four people on the Nintendo Switch, this can be each player having their own full controller or you can each use a horizontal Joy-Con. When playing locally you're able to compete in these events with only the player characters or choose to also include NPC racers filling out the roster. With practically everything in the game unlocked from the very beginning, this is most likely where you will spend your time. If you have friends with their own Nintendo Switch consoles then you're also able to connect together to have up to two players on each Switch console with a maximum of 8 Switches connected at a time. As in local multiplayer, you can set up both VS Mode races and Battle Mode matches. If multiplayer locally or connected with other consoles wasn't enough there is also a ranked online mode that two local players can join an online lobby, picking between worldwide, regionally, or with friends only, to race head to head. Each profile will start with a rank of 1000 points and depending on where they place in a race will earn more points, as you progress your points will make sure that you get matched against others of similar skill levels.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Character Selection
Getting closer and closer to Super Smash Kart

Of everything that is automatically available, there are still some things like different vehicle parts and a single unlockable character in the game. For all of the vehicle parts, this is where the coins that you collect while racing factor in. After a certain amount of collected coins you will receive a vehicle part at random; a frame, tires, or a glider. Each of these different parts of your kart (as well as your racer's weight) have an effect on how you handle on the course. This adds an extra level of depth and competitiveness to Mario Kart 8 as you seek to find the kart with just the right stats for you. The character weight is a stat that you're never able to properly view but judging from the size, Bowser is going to be heavier than a Shy Guy, you can use this weight to your advantage by knocking other players around when you have the speed. The flip side of this is the lighter characters able to go faster and having higher maneuverability. The full list of stats that you can customize include Speed, Acceleration, Weight, Handling, and Traction. This isn't to mean that stats are everything of course as the rubberbanding of the items ensures to try to keep every race as close as possible with the skill levels of the players and the NPCs. It's this light balance of competitive stat selection with the fun of items that can help you win back that lead that make Mario Kart 8 a great game to play with friends and create friendly rivalries. Character selection is also not something to be laughed at as with all of the characters from Mario Kart 8 for Wii U an additional six characters have been added to the port. These new characters include King Boo, Dry Bones, Bowser Jr., Inkling Girl, Inkling Boy, and Gold Mario, the last of which is the unlockable replacement for Metal Mario. The addition of these characters brings the new total up to 42, counting the ability to pick a Mii with a custom costume as one.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Extra Control Options
Settings that might seem odd at first glance, but with deeper thought show how inclusive Nintendo wanted this game.

There are also a variety of different options that you can toggle at any point in a race that can help you if you're having any difficulties and are perfect for those who might be too young to get behind the wheel of a standard Mario Kart. Smart Steering allows an antenna to be attached to the player's kart that will activate when they are about to run off the course, activating and steering players back onto the tarmac. Auto-acceleration means that even when you're not holding down the accelerate button your kart will continue moving forwards, again for those who might need a bit of an easier experience. Tilt Controls also make their return giving players the option to enable or disable them, this means like Mario Kart Wii you're able to steer just by turning your controller in the direction you want. While a lot of players might not ever even think about these options it's these kinds of considerations that will make sure that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is able to be picked up by anyone to have a fun time. When playing in multiplayer each character is able to individually enable and disable each of these options.

Overall Mario Kart 8 takes the experience and immediately puts you in a place to get racing with friends, those who enjoy clearing cups to unlock more cups might find the single-player portion of the game slightly lacking but at the end of the day the ability to race and attempt to complete all of the cups at their different levels is still very present. The addition of Battle Mode is one that players will have fun with but with some hit or miss game types like balloon battle and Bomb-omb Blast could be a frustrating experience. As a port of Mario Kart 8 for Wii U it does exactly as you'd hope for, brings the full game with a couple of new additions to Nintendo's new system to give players more of a chance to keep playing this entertaining kart racer.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a copy purchased by the reviewer.

Review Summary


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe gives players the full package right from the starting line. With an enormous roster of both characters and raceways to select from MK8 Deluxe brings over all of the content from the Wii U edition of the game and then goes and adds more content. While those wanting the single player experience might not find too much to race for, as a multiplayer title this is a great one to challenge your friends to.

(Review Policy)


  • Plenty Of Courses
  • Plenty Of Characters
  • New Battle Modes


  • Returning Battle Types Underwhelming
  • Limited Unlocks

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| Senior Content Manager

Andrew has written Video Game and Entertainment news, reviews, and guides for 10+ years. As Senior Content Manager, he assists in creating and editing… More about Andrew