NWR staff take one more lap around the definitive version of Mario Kart 8.
Mario Kart is one of the most popular franchises in Nintendo’s history, so it’s not that big of a suprise that soon after the launch of the Nintendo Switch, we’d get some sort of entry in the long running series fairly quickly. With a fully revamped battle mode, new characters and a bevy of DLC content from the original game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would give people plenty of reason to come back for another spin.
Back in April, Daan Koopman gave the game an 8.5, citing “If variety is the spice of life, 8 Deluxe has a lot of extra kick to it”. Site director Neal Ronaghan gave the same score, but was a bit more critical, saying “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe makes for a great representation of the multiplayer potential of the Switch, but it still doesn’t add too much content to be a simple, slam-dunk purchase for owners of the Wii U version”.
There’s plenty of reasons to back to Mario Kart 8, but in the end, are they worth it? A number of NWR staff have played the game, and are ready to give their own thoughts on the latest in Mario Kart madness.
Justin Nation, Contributing Writer:I have to admit when I first heard the details on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, as someone who had Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U and had bought the DLC packs for it, I wasn’t necessarily thrilled. Though Mario Kart has been a game my family has consistently enjoyed playing together, and the staggering number of tracks available for it keep things very fresh, I wasn’t sure about buying the “same game” I already had. In addition, though I could enjoy Battle Mode in previous incarnations to some extent I also wasn’t a huge fan. However, since the family would all play it, and the prospect of taking that experience anywhere was a fairly strong draw, I took the plunge.
The great news is that I absolutely haven’t had any regrets about that decision. While I haven’t been able to play it as much as I’d like (games everywhere to play and write previews for) it has been played very consistently by my kids and family as a whole. Even better, MK8D has really sold me on Battle Mode as it is a ton of fun! In particular Renegade Round-Up always manages to put a smile on my face, and I’ve played that online with my youngest daughter numerous times. When you add in features like the speed and steering assist (no matter how much people complain about them defaulting to “on”) this is absolutely, on every level, the best game ever made for the “whole family”.
I really respect what Nintendo has done with the title, and look forward to seeing how they can continue to find ways to make deep titles with challenge and nuance but that have mechanisms in place to cater to the less savvy gamers when necessary. It’s part of their magic and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe demonstrates their philosophy in the most effective way possible.
David Lloyd, Associate Editor: Two months in the books and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe shows no signs of being taken out of my game rotation. I’m convinced that Mario Kart was released on Switch as a bridge between flagship games as it’s the perfect casual online environment.
My biggest pet peeve with online multiplayer games is that they are often dominated by players who devote many hours a day to developing their skills and strategies. The beauty of Mario Kart is that the game is structured so that even the worst of players still have a chance at success. The emotional high of getting a Bullet Bill and rocketing to the head of the pack is contrasted with the sheer disappointment of being hit with a blue shell within eyesight of the finish line. This homogeneity between players allows for Mario Kart to continue to be the perfect game for groups of friends looking for a game that allows all an equal chance to win.
The inclusion of the battle mode is a welcome addition, as it adds a new layer to the game with the ability to play in teams. With the multiple play modes and thousands of permutations of cars and characters, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is able to avoid becoming stale and continues to be the yardstick for Nintendo’s focus on bringing friends together via the Nintendo Switch.
Perry Burkum, Associate Editor:Mario Kart 8 Deluxe completely took me by surprise. I liked the Wii U original, but I didn't love it -- so you can imagine that a second version didn't exactly excite me. My first impressions of the game were soured by the driving assist "feature" that made the game feel out of control. Being a Battle Mode fan, I was even let down by the plethora of modes and maps provided, there still felt like something was missing.
Weirdly enough, as I continued to play I grew to absolutely love the game. The minor changes made for Deluxe ended up being the missing parts I wished for in the original. The ability to hold two items and the addition of the pink sparks adds the variability and strategy sorely missed in the modern oh-so-polished Mario Kart formula, and the Battle Mode ended up being a bonus. Add in 48 beautifully crafted tracks, an extended character selection, and with the general portability of the Switch you have yourself a genuinely excellent game, and an absolute must-have for the system.
Matt West, Associate Editor:Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is probably the best overall game in the series, at least in the franchise’s current formula. While it’s missing any kind of substantial single player content, it does have 48 tracks, a battle mode, and plenty of ways to play multiplayer both on and offline. It’s these kinds of modes where Mario Kart has always been a crowd pleaser, and Deluxe does them better than any of the past titles in the series.
The 48 tracks included in this package are some of the greatest and most beautiful courses Mario Kart has ever seen. The game is absolutely gorgeous both on the TV and in handheld mode. The return of a proper battle mode, with several rule variants to choose from, takes what felt like a huge void from the Wii U version and turns it into a great strength. Online modes mostly run smoothly, although there are more disconnections than I would like. Most of the things other MK games have done in the past, however, Deluxe can do better.
That is, except for single player. While no Mario Kart game has truly given us a meaningful single player campaign, other games have given us mission modes that, in my view, gave players a reason to boot up the game even when they didn’t feel like playing multiplayer. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s one miss is that there’s nothing like that here, and therefore single player feels rather hollow. And since you can unlock almost everything in the game by simply gaining coins online, there really isn’t a reason to care about trying out the grand prix. MK8D may be the greatest multiplayer racer of all time, but its lack of meaningful single player content keep it from a perfect score.