Available on: Switch
Reviewed by: Joseph Yaden
Even after 50 hours into this arcade kart racer, I still look forward to playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It says a lot about the game that it keeps me coming back, especially since racing games are not my favorite by a long shot.
The main hook of this game is that it's fast and can easily be picked up and played. With all the different game modes, I found myself saying, "One more match", more often than not.
The original game already had a generous amount of tracks, but with the Deluxe version, all of the DLC from the original is available, including racers, tracks, and items. With the addition of a proper battle mode, this package has all the ingredients for a perfect Mario Kart game.
On the topic of tracks, these levels are BEAUTIFUL. The whole game is beautiful. This is the best looking Mario Kart game by far. It got to the point where every time I'd play the candy level, I'd start craving sweets and candy just because of how good it looks. A game with this aesthetic will age well, too, and I wouldn't be surprised if this game is being played even several years later.
It's hard to believe anything in this game could top the visuals, but the music does just that. The upbeat, jazzy tracks are ones that I kept humming to myself, even when I was not playing the game. This is music that I would actually listen to, even outside the context of playing. The artists that perform these songs are talented individuals and I love the splash of Japanese jazz that can be found in all the songs.
The gameplay itself is, at its heart, a kart racer, but the way the levels are designed make the act of racing less traditional and more exciting. Some tracks have obstacles to dodge, like a giant, flaming Bowser, lasers, or Thwomps trying to crash down on the player. In addition to obstacles, the levels all have shortcuts that can be taken. A lot of these shortcuts are ones that are high risk/high reward. Things like this will reward skillful players, which adds a sense of balance to the competitive nature of the game.
The only gripe in terms of gameplay is the item frequency. Don't get me wrong, the items are pretty varied and interesting, but the main issue is that if a player is in first place, only a small portion of the items will ever be seen. And I get why: this is to make the game more balanced. But a part of me wishes the items would be more randomized to make it so that first place players can experience all items. (As long as it's not the blue shell because that thing is so overpowered.)
Like most local multiplayer games on the Switch, this feels right at home on the platform. It's so easy to just pick up and do a few races with a buddy split between two Joy Con. Many friendships will be crushed over slight victories.
The online multiplayer mode is great too. I didn't experience any lag or connection issues that hindered me. Each player has a rank so it's always apparent who the veterans are. Having an online mode like this makes for almost infinite replay-ability, which many games these days lack.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a hefty, generous package that comes with a ton of modes, characters, and tracks that will never get old. The art style is beautiful, the music is catchy and fantastic, and the multiplayer mode gave me some of the most fun I've had with a Nintendo game in years. I cannot recommend this game enough.
Consider playing if:
- You're looking for a casual experience
- Vibrant colors and upbeat jazz are your thing
- You like arcadey racing games
Consider skipping if:
- You're looking for a game with a story mode
- The racing game loop bores you
- You like more simulation-style racing games
This game is a quality experience and is recommended.