Game Time — Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
4.5/5 stars

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe follows the recent trend of “complete editions,” games that are less than five-or-so years old, re-released for the latest console, with all of the game’s content unlocked from the get-go, along with a few brand new features tossed in.

It’s hard not to feel like buying a game you already own but for a new system isn’t a colossal waste of money. It’s a flat fact that my wife and I could continue playing the regular version of Mario Kart 8 we already own for our last generation Wii U and get an extremely similar experience to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch. So the question that needs to be asked is simple: does this deluxe version justify its existence? Is it a different enough or improved enough experience on the Switch to justify $60 of your hard-earned dollars?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: If you have a Nintendo Console, Mario Kart 8 (either regular or deluxe) is as essential of a video game as video games get.

First, the most basic analysis. If, like myself, you are privileged enough to own a Switch, it’s worth owning MK8 Deluxe. The Switch is a unique console in that it comes packaged with two (albeit tiny) controllers. With it, you’re able to play the best version of MK8 with a friend while sitting on a plane or in a waiting room—that’s a rather wild experience. My wife and I will be taking a cross-country flight for an upcoming wedding, and we eagerly anticipate whittling away those hours in the air playing one of our favorite games propped up on a little airplane tray table.

MK8 Deluxe fixes a few technical issues from the vanilla MK8—most notably smoother performance and frame-rate when playing multiplayer. It also includes a few new racers, such as the Inkling kids from Splatoon, but the heavy lifter in MK8 Deluxe is the widely fleshed-out battle mode. The new collection of game modes adds countless hours of fun while challenging the player to experiment with new strategies and playstyles. If you owned the original MK8, the portability, playability fixes, and improved battle mode justify this purchase. If you’ve never played or don’t already own MK8 but have a Switch, there is no doubt that this game is a tent pole to this system, and Nintendo games as a whole. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best and most complete version of the best Mario Kart game Nintendo has made so far.

But here’s the thing that I kept thinking about while playing: you will be hard-pressed to find someone who has never enjoyed playing some version of Mario Kart. In terms of video games, it is a solid home-run for family entertainment. It’s almost a textbook example of the easy-to-learn, hard-to-master, and the deluxe version even comes with a series of settings that make the game easier for individual players instead of effecting the entire group. Mom can play at the highest difficulty, and at the same time, a child can have their controller set so that they never fall off the track and only have to worry about steering and using items. The balancing in these games is tuned to a perfect note; racers in first place are given a challenging handicap as an easy target for other items, and racers in last place are boosted with the most effective and devastating items on the track.

It’s got conflict without violence, challenge without exclusion, color and vibrancy without being annoying or overbearing. You are almost guaranteed to enjoy your time with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, as well as any friend you invite to join you. MK8 Deluxe is, in a way, joyful. You have to work hard at walking away from this game unsatisfied.

Kyle Reardon | Southern Territory