Let’s get this out of the way first: if you didn’t own a Wii U or you never played Mario Kart 8, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a must-buy on the Nintendo Switch. This is easily the best Mario Kart game we’ve had in years, and all of the improvements make it pretty close to perfect.
I’ll argue, though, that even if you owned the game on Wii U (*raises hand*) and pumped more than 100 hours into it (*raises hand higher*), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still worth a double-dip at the $59.99 price Nintendo’s asking.
Really, it boils down to three factors. One of them is unique to the Nintendo Switch, while the other two were changes made to the original Mario Kart 8 as it was brought to its deluxe form.
The Nintendo Switch’s portability is huge
What’s had me playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe almost constantly since last Friday? The Switch’s hardware itself. Potentially even more than The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I’ve had my Switch and Mario Kart with me whenever I’m home since the game dropped.
The console’s designed ability to go from my big screen TV to a handheld that’s actually pretty powerful in an instant is undeniably fantastic. I dug Zelda portably, sure, but Mario Kart 8 is brilliant both ways. Zelda felt big and seemed at home on a large scale on my TV. Going portable with it felt like a compromise, especially as I used the Switch’s less than stellarly positioned right analog stick to move the camera. I have a Pro controller on the big screen, so this feels just fine.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks incredible on the Switch’s screen, and it feels tight and right, too. Smaller? Obviously. But I don’t feel like I’m really sacrificing anything as I bump down in size.
Two items at once is deceptively important
If you played the original Mario Kart 8, you know that the Coins item was sort of a nuisance. As you take first place, you naturally receive less useful items. Banana Peels, Green Shells and Coins. Those three are a constant, with Coins seeming to get the most play.
Coins are great, initially. Building up to 10 is important because it increases your engine’s, let’s say, efficiency. You want 10 at all times. Once you have 10? Coins are relatively useless.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers players two items at once. Run over a double box or a second box, and you’ll get two items in your upper-left corner. This makes the middle of the pack way more chaotic (a point that I’ll concede as debatably problematic for some), but it also gives the 1st place racer more room for more defensive items. Keeping first place seems more fair now, and that’s a hugely beneficial change that makes this a more pleasant game.
Battle Mode, baby!
The third reason I think it’s totally worth double-dipping for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe? Battle Mode. Battle Mode is back, complete with multiple types of play within. The first go around with Mario Kart 8 offered a “Battle Mode” that was simply open racing with balloons on the game’s standard race tracks. It was half-hearted at best, and it felt like a last minute addition to appease fans.
It didn’t. The lack of a true Battle Mode was the weakest point in Mario Kart 8. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Battle Mode is present, playable online and a whole lot of fun.
If you’ve been considering Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch but haven’t committed because you owned it on the Wii U, I’d say go for it. I loved the game the first time around. On the Switch? I adore it.
If this thing gets more DLC, I’m in. 100%.