Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Mario Kart, the racing franchise that made it so I can never play a realistic racing game ever. I followed the franchise all the way back to when I got the very first game on the SNES and ever since then I would look at racing games set around real cars and went “why would anyone play this when they can throw explosives at each other aswell while avoiding fire balls in a castle IN SPACE!”
For anyone worrying that this being the 8th (technically 9th since this is an upgraded version of the one of the Wii U) in the franchise that it would be difficult to get into, worry not, this is probably the most welcoming Mario Kart out there. Nintendo brought out features to help new or physically challenged players to play the game, and though some elitists have complained about these features they have opened up one of the best racers out there to new people, so (profanity) you who doesn’t want our wheel chair bound friends to play Mario Kart, this game is for everyone.
The game is split into various different modes which can be played single or multi player, as well as online. Initially you had 8 different Cups each with 4 tracks, 4 of the cups containing brand new race tracks and the other 4 containing reworks of classic tracks from the previous 7 Mario games ( last time I checked Mario Circuit didn’t have anti gravity segment) however since this is the deluxe version for the Switch you also have the 4 additional cups that were originally dlc in the Wii U version (yeah I got both). These 4 cups contain mixes of classic and new races plus a few based on other Nintendo licenses.
These tracks are as I indicated above, absolutely nuts. I don’t know how many formula 1 races go through a super villain’s (and gaming’s best dad) volcano castle? or fire the racers out of a canon into a giant cake, or race against oncoming planes? or (goes on about how insane some of the race tracks are) before LITERALLY the final track is racing on top of a magical rainbow in space! and that’s not saying anything about the racing hazards, yes it’s not just the other racers throw weaponry at you (we will come to that later). Many of the tracks have hazards that mean you can’t just follow the exact same path and have to avoid, or in some cases take advantage of them. These can range from cows running over the track (which occurs on Moo Moo Farm, hmm wonder how it got the name?) to a giant moving statue smashing the race track and an active volcano destroying parts of the road!
The roster of racers is from all over the Mario games, you have your usual Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser (name one other game where the hero’s arch-enemy regularly attends sporting occasions with him) while also having less prominent ones like Shy Guy, the Koopa Kids and Daisy. The original game annoyed a lot of people by the inclusion of a Pink Gold Peach which EVERYONE HATED! since characters like Bowser jr were left out, not helped when one of the dlc characters was another form of Peach and yet still no Bowser jr. However with the deluxe version Bowser jr, King Boo and Dry Bones have returned to Mario Kart, and they brought the Inklings from Splatoon with them (stay fresh). The character you choose will affect how your cart performs, Mario and Luigi usually not affecting it, some characters being much lighter, while Bowser is clearly heavy. This effects your acceleration, max speed and how you take turns, so going from Rosalina to Baby Rosalina can take a few moments for you to click to how you take turns now lest you veer off the road into the waterfall you were driving up.
To help you (or be thrown at you) in each race are a number of weapons, these all have different effects from mushrooms which give you a burst of speed (which is vital to help you get a short cut), green and red shells which hit your opponents stopping them in their tracks allowing you to take their lead, and the now infamous blue shell which will seek out who ever is in the front and explode (and has been the bane of Mario Kart players since its invention) though it has since been offset thanks to the Mega Horn, a tool that destroys all incoming objects even the blue shell (in fact they advertised it doing just that). The deluxe version also brings back some old friends in the form of the Ghost and the Jump Feather (though I think the latter is only in battle mode) and allows you to hold more than one weapon at a time. Its a rule of thumb that with Mario Kart weapons the further back you are, the better the weapons you get so if you’re in the lead you will mainly be getting bananas and coins (and that’s good as a well-timed banana can stop a red shell) while those at the back will get bullet bills, lightning and the occasional blue shell.( It would be rather odd for someone in the lead to get a weapon that specifically targets the person in the lead now wouldnt it?)
The different modes in the game are Grand Prix, Time Trial, Versus and Battle. Grand Prix has you play through all the courses of a chosen cup, racing against 15 other racers to take the gold (or silver and bronze if you get hit by a bunch of red shells right after a blue shell hits you moments before crossing the finishing line, YES THIS HAS HAPPENED TO ME). Time trial has you alone on the race track going for the quickest time to completion, though you are given 3 mushrooms best used to take advantage of short cuts in the track. Once completed you can save a ghost of your time allowing you while racing on it again to improve on it, you also can download other players’ ghosts and also face against a staff ghost, which is very useful to find out hidden short cuts and tricks. Versus simply has you and your friends race against one another on any track you choose.
Battle mode is one of the main selling points of the Deluxe version. The original Mario Kart 8 just used altered versions of pre-existing tracks and.. people hated it. But with Deluxe Battle Mode arenas have returned (including one based on Splatoon, once again people, stay fresh!). There are several different modes to battle in, the classic one where each player has balloons tied to their cart and getting hit causes it to pop is there, though now if you jump over them with a feather or drive through them with a mushroom you steal one (basically giving you an extra life). There is a variant of the classic which now everyone is armed with bombs which by stacking up your supply you can mini gun them out. Finally a weird one where you are split into teams of 2 one team has pirannha plants and has to capture the opposing team.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is great fun and thanks to the new inclusive features (which can be turned off if you don’t need them) allows people to enjoy the series that never could before. However if you already have Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U you will want to think hard whether the improvements to the game are worth enough to buying it, even more so if you got the dlc already. If you didn’t, GET THIS GAME it has all the stuff from the first version, all its dlc and more.