Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review

At launch, the Nintendo Switch was all about Zelda: Breath of the Wild but there's finally a new major franchise game in town and it's part of one of the most liked series to date. Here we review the exciting Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

First things first, this edition of Mario Kart is not a completely new game. Although we were perhaps a little bit disappointed when it was announced for the Switch, Nintendo hasn't made out like it's a whole new title.

The name tells you what you need to know really and while we're keen to get racing on Mario Kart 9, this Deluxe edition of the Wii U Mario Kart is well worth getting to tide you over thanks to plenty of tweaks and new content. Read next: Best Nintendo Switch games

Playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch

One of the major things about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is not so much the game itself, but the way the new Switch console allows you to play it.

The game is essentially the same as before in TV Mode, but the portable and versatile console means you can take Mario Kart anywhere you go using Handheld Mode. You're unlikely to feel the need to take your DS and Mario Kart 7 any longer.

It really comes into its own using Tabletop Mode, though, as you can play two-player anywhere with the Joy-cons. The screen is a little bit small but it's totally doable and hardly something you can do on other devices. We, along with a bunch of friends, had a great time playing in this mode at the pub – just be careful with your drinks!

That's not all as the Switch can wirelessly connect to other consoles, meaning you can play with up to eight people using four devices – in TV or Tabletop modes. If you connect over LAN (Ethernet adapters required) you can have up to 12.

It's pretty tricky playing with the Joy-cons on their own so it'll be worth spending a few quid on the official Jon-Con Wheels (just £13.99 for a pair), even if you don't use gyro steering, or something like Gioteck's Duo Grips.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Switch modes

What's new in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?

Although Deluxe is a new version of the Wii U Mario Kart 8, it often feels like a new game thanks to a shed load of new content and features. Before we launch into it all, you won't need to spend time unlocking tracks, characters and modes – it's all available from the off. You can still unlock more vehicles and wheels etc. See also: Switch vs Wii U comparison.

That means Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers a whopping 42 characters and 48 tracks so you can jump straight into that glorious (or outrageously frustrating) action. The game includes all the DLC content from the Wii U such as four extra cups (16 tracks), characters and vehicles.

New characters include Dry Bones, Bowser Jr., King Boo and Inklings from Splatoon. There are also new vehicles, weapons and more.

Here are some of the key new features in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, most of which we'll talk about in more detail:

• 200cc Time Trial
• New weapons: Boo and Feather
• Double weapons
• Double item boxes
• Smart Steering
• Auto-acceleration
• Lvl 3 mini-turbo (pink)
• Yellow countdown bar for certain weapons (eg Golden Mushroom)
• Blueshell appears on mini-map
• Battle mode
• U-turn manoeuvre

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe new items

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Battle Modes

By far the biggest, and best, thing about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the revamped Battle Mode. Our biggest disappointment about the Wii U version was having to play battles on tracks – a decision we still can't get our heads round following the legendary battles we all had on Mario Kart 64.

It's with great joy we can say that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe fixes this flaw with a whopping five battle modes to choose from and eight arenas in which play them. Read next: Switch vs Xbox One.

Here's an overview of the five modes:

• Balloon Battle  Essentially the classic battle mode
• Renegade Roundup – Cops and robbers with Piranha Plants and jails
• Bob-omb Blast – Classic battle with bombs flying left, right and centre
• Coin runners – Collect all the coins, more coins means slower speed
• Shine Thief – Get the Spite and keep it for 20 seconds to win

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Battle Mode

It would take us too long to go through each of the modes but they're all great in different ways and will suit different styles of play - some work better on certain arenas. We particularly like Renegade Roundup and the extremely stressful Shine Thief modes.

Many can be played in either teams or individually and with plenty of control over other settings such as which vehicles and weapons are allowed. One of our only complains is the inability to choose 4v4 in battle – particularly when you want all-human players verses CPU in modes like Renegade Roundup.

As mentioned earlier one of the two new weapons is the Feather and this will only be found in battle games. It allows you to jump over objects or players and takes some skill to master with the latter but you'll be rewarded if you can pull it off.

You'll also want to make use of the new U-turn manoeuver in battles which is like a handbrake turn on ice. To perform this, simply slam the brakes on and turn.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Racing

Regular racing isn't half as dramatically different compared to battle but there are still a few things to mention here.

The biggest tweak is being able to hold two weapons at the same time, although you can't switch between them at will like Double Dash. You can fill both slots in one go by driving through the double staked item boxes on courses. The other new item alongside the Feather is Boo who can steal an item from another player at random and turns you invisible to avoid getting hit.

This makes racing more fun at times, providing you with the opportunity to get further up the field with potentially six red shells. We do feel, however, that perhaps the player in first place should be limited to one weapon as they can end up with a bit too much protection at times.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Smart Steering

For skilled racers, there's now a third level of mini-turbo so if you can drift tight enough you'll get a pink boost and be off like a rocket.

If you're not even at the stage of drifting then Nintendo has added some features for you too. It can be frustrating playing experienced drivers so Smart Steering and Auto-acceleration mean that beginners won't end up rage quitting due to falling off Rainbow Road 100 times in one race.

A handy antenna lights up at the back of your vehicle to let you know it's kicking in so you can improve.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Specs

  • Nintendo Switch
  • 1-12 players
  • Nintendo Switch
  • 1-12 players

SHOULD I BUY MARIO KART 8 DELUXE?

Although we're slightly pining for a completely new Mario Kart, this Deluxe version of the Wii U game is worth picking up whether you've played its predecessor to death or you're completely new to the series. While racing isn't hugely changed by the addition of double weapons, the new battle modes and arenas fix the biggest problem with Mario Kart 8.