The latest version of this classic game is a good time had by all, once you get past some of the snippy controller issues.
From Mario to Baby Mario, King Boo to Rosalina, Bowser, Luigi, and everyone in between, the gang’s all here for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, one of the latest titles to hit the Nintendo Switch. The premise is just like every other Mario Kart game you’ve played, with a few new goodies. Plus, you’re playing on the Switch, which, yes – does change the experience.
The game is straightforward: your usual buttons are used to accelerate, reverse and steer (for most, that would be A and B if you’re using a normal controller; the console will guide you on the screen if you’re using a JoyCon). If you’ve played previous Mario Kart titles, you should be able to pick this game up no problem. You can use all the controller options for this game and when you’re playing with the JoyCon you actually have the option to steer without hitting buttons.
I started playing the game in tabletop mode, which I actually didn’t like. Consider me spoiled, but I thought I saw a bit of a slowdown in the frame rate when comparing to dock/TV play. This is actually because the game is rendering in 720p vs. the 1080p you’ll get with the dock/TV combo. It can actually make for a bit of a challenging experience if you’re sitting too far away from the screen; I was about three-and-a-half feet away. I was also playing in split screen (two player) which made things smaller. However, I have to say the quality you get on the go while playing tabletop is nothing to sneeze at.
I’m a massive fan of the game rendering in 1080p on TV, as gameplay looks and feels flawless. I tried both battle mode and racing, and it was great! I feel as if Nintendo utilized the JoyCon controller to its full potential here, with controller vibrations coming on pretty strong if you’re hit by a shell or slip on a banana.
Items, drifting and battle mode
I love that I’m able to carry two items. However, if you play with the default buttons, you’ll have to get used to your top left bumper button being your item hold/release button when playing on the JoyCon. Your right bumper button is your drift/hop button, and there are no problems there. Favourite item at this point: the feather – yes, it’s back from Super Mario Kart, and yes, it’s been that long.
Battle mode is actually great! Classic Balloon Battles now have five balloons for each player instead of just the three, and when you ‘die’ you don’t become a ghost – you come back for a second go with three balloons. My least favourite is Bob-Omb Blast, which is pretty dull. Shine Thief and Coin Runners are a-okay, but the most fun comes out of Renegade Round-up. It’s a cops-and-robbers version of battle mode, with one team on the lam while the other team tries to round up all the opposing group’s members with piranha plants. If you’re a ‘Renegade,’ and even one of your team members is free by the end of the round, then your team wins. If you’re one of the folks with a piranha plant, and you manage to round everyone up by the time the clock is up, then your team wins.
At the end of the day, this is a lot of fun, but be warned: the price is steep. You’re looking at just under $90 for the game, but I think it’s worth it if you’re a big Mario Kart fan. Once you get past some of the crap default controls on the JoyCon, I still think this is worth the price. This title is one of the most anticipated to hit the Switch, and anyone can pick up the basic controls. If you’re not into simple, colourful racing games, then this is not for you. At its heart, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is what a video game for everyone should be: fun.
4.5 out of 5.
Be sure to catch Ria’s review of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the next episode of Just the Tip.