Is the most content-filled Mario Kart game worth double-dipping for?
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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, an enhanced port of the Wii U version, comes roughly three years after the release of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, and roughly two months after the launch of the Nintendo Switch. Fans have voiced concern over “double dipping” on this enhanced game. Is it worth a rebuy for owners of the original?
As the game already looked gorgeous on the Wii U, it comes as no surprise that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks just as great on the Nintendo Switch. The game runs at a gorgeous 1080p when docked, and equal to the Wii U at 720p when undocked. It runs at a smooth 60fps at all times, though when split screened into three or four players, it drops to 30fps.
There are various control options available for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, including a single Joy-Con, both Joy-Cons detached from the console or in the grip, Handheld mode, or using the Pro Controller. Several options for multiplayer are available, including split-screen local play, and 2-player online, both of which return from the original Mario Kart 8. New to this game, however, is the Wireless play option, where, like the handheld games in the series, players can make a local room for other players with the game to connect to. The functionality of this is very similar to creating a friend room online, but this can be done without the need for an internet connection.
A minor gripe I have with Mario Kart 8: Deluxe is the fact that all characters (minus a single costume) are unlocked from the beginning, as well as all of the courses. I personally enjoy unlocking everything in a game, though I don’t really mind this all that much, given that I already unlocked everything in the original. Vehicle parts still need to be unlocked, however, so that mostly makes up for this by giving a reason to play the various Grand Prix. I’m also a little upset that there are no new Grand Prix or courses added to the game, but I don’t believe the lack of those hinders from the experience with this game, as the game already feels complete and filled to the brim with exciting content, especially to those who missed out on the DLC of the first game, since it’s included in the base game here.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is presented beautifully, taking everything that was great from the original game, and adding even more fantastic content on top of it.
The gameplay from the original Mario Kart 8 is present here in this enhanced port, with some special additions added to it, such as some new characters and a brand new battle mode. There are now three tiers to drifting, starting with the blue “Mini-Turbo,” then moving to the orange “Super Mini-Turbo,” and now the new “Ultra-Mini Turbo” being added in the form of pinkish…purple sparks. The boost given from achieving them is very satisfying, almost as if a mushroom item was used.
Another major mechanic change is the inclusion of a second item slot, allowing players to hold a second item in storage, much like previous entries in the series such as Mario Kart Wii. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t much like Mario Kart: Double Dash!! except for the feature of double item boxes, as you cannot actually switch between these items.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe can actually be deemed the most accessible game in the series due to the addition of two settings: Smart Steering and Auto Accelerate. Smart Steering attaches an antenna to the player’s vehicle, which prevent the player from falling off the course, and from driving off the road. Even using a mushroom directly aimed at the edge of the road will be redirected. It’s pretty useful for players who have trouble staying on the road. Auto Accelerate allows for players to race without having to hold down the A button, or push up on the right stick. The player will automatically accelerate forward, but must still be steered by the player. If Smart Steering and Auto Accelerate are combined, technically, a player need not even touch their controller as the AI can play the race, but it isn’t guaranteed to do well at all.
An overall major change from the original Mario Kart 8 is the inclusion of an entirely new, revamped Battle Mode. Rather than having some refurbished courses looping to battle on, the game comes packaged with eight battle track that are entirely new to the game, three of which are returning from previous entries of Mario Kart. Each battle track feels different and interesting, some having a more flat, basic layout, while others allow for more vertical movement, potentially striking from above with an item. There are five battle modes, the most of any game in the series.
Balloon Battle is mostly unchanged from previous entries. There is no “last man standing” such as in previous versions, and losing all of your balloons results in Lakitu placing you back at a spawn point with half of your points.
Coin Runners is also mostly unchanged from its previous entries. Seemingly though, it is a decent way to farm coins for unlockable vehicle parts.
Bob-Omb Blast returns from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, allowing players to hold up to 10 Bob-Ombs to launch at their opponents. This mode is essentially Balloon Battle, but with only Bob-Ombs available to use. Luckily, you can’t be hurt by your own Bob-Omb, or this mode would be a lot more difficult. The physics to throwing your bombs is different from the rest of the game, however. In any other mode, it’s easy to throw a bomb rather far away. In this mode though, it’s easier to drop the bomb right in front of you.
Renegade Roundup is a brand new battle mode exclusive to this entry of Mario Kart. Players are divided into two teams, the Renegades, and the Authorities. The Authorities are equipped with everlasting potted-Piranha Plants, which have a cute little light on their heads akin to that on a police car. Renegades must scour the battle track, avoiding being captured by the Authorities’ Piranha Plants, while also freeing their captured allies. Renegades free their allies, who become locked in cages that get placed on the track, by running into the button beneath the cages. Authorities win if all Renegades get captured, while Renegades win if they can avoid being captured until time runs out.
My personal favorite of the five battle modes is Shine Thief, returning from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. A single Shine Sprite is placed on the battlefield, and players must scramble to hold it as long as possible. When holding the Shine Sprite, a countdown appears, initially counting down from 20, and decreasing each second. If a player can hold the Shine Sprite until the countdown reaches 0, they win. Even if they do not hold it until the countdown reaches 0, players earn more points the longer they are able to hold the Shine Sprite. After five minutes, the round ends, and the player who had held the Shine Sprite the longest is deemed the winner.
The gameplay of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is just as great as it was in the original, only to be enhanced by the inclusion of new mechanics and an entirely revamped battle mode.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an enhanced port that expands upon the original game in new and creative games. Yet another crossover in the form of Splatoon, more accessibility to players through Smart Steering and Auto Accelerate, a completely revamped battle mode, complete with brand new tracks and five different game modes, as well as some new characters and vehicle parts. I find all of the new content to make Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a refreshing experience from the original, giving me more fun in a variety of ways, and I can tell I’ll be playing this game at home and on the go for many months and years to come.
Mains: Link (64), Peach & Young Link (Melee), Toon Link & Peach (Brawl), Toon Link, Peach & Lucas (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)
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