Game of the Month

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review

by on April 20, 2017
Reviewed On
Release Date

April 28, 2017.


There’s a temptation for me to just throw a pasted list of new features, then in the largest font the site will allow just put “this game is amazing, bye” and run away to start playing it again. Mario Kart 8 was phenomenal, you know that; we know that; the cat knows that, and while there will be those that find the Switch “deluxe” version to be just a Switch version, I can’t get behind the negativity, because of all the games I’ve played this year, it did the impossible: it got my kids back into Nintendo.

While MK8 looked gorgeous on Wii U, it somehow looks better on Switch. The slight frame hitching from the original is gone (though it does look ever so slightly framey in 3-player and up at times), and whether you’re in TV mode or Handheld mode, it sings with glorious colour and brightness. Let’s face it, Mario Kart is just a true good in this world, and Christ we could all use that right now.

From the meticulously designed tracks to the tiny touches that brought us the infamous Luigi stare. The new characters fit right in (naturally), but as a big lover of Splatoon, the Inklings are my new favourite. They’re close enough to all-rounders, and I’ve always liked the smaller, lighter characters anyway. But again, the detail is magnificent. As you jump and trick in the air, they’ll turn into squid quickly, and it’s just lovely.

MK8 Deluxe inkling boy

Aside from all the Wii U DLC being included, there isn’t an awful lot new that most will notice on the surface: there’s two new weapons (boo will steal weapons, the feather lets you jump and, thus, avoid attacks), and look, I think most people who adored MK8 would kill for some new tracks, but that wasn’t to be. What we do have, though, is a completely new Battle Mode which adds some ways to play that may, in time, become the star of the party.

As ever, simplicity is key, and Renegade Roundup pits two teams against one another: one are cops, the other are robbers. How does that work, you ask? Well, the cops have piranha plants that attack everything nearby, while the “renegades” have to evade capture for a set time limit. Once captured, the runaways can drive over a switch that frees the captured teammates, and it all just plays out in a wonderful, chaotic experience that is both moreish and fun.

Shine Thief is equally fun. Rush to the Shine, grab it by running into it, then evade for as long as possible, trying to succeed by holding it the longest. It’s agonising to knock the current Shine Thief off course only for someone else to swoop in and steal it, but I guess that’s the thief part in action. Bob-omb Blast switches every power-up out for a bomb and you can collect multiple bombs to throw at people. Bursting your opponent’s balloons nets you points, and if you lose all of yours you are reset with less balloons and a point deduction to match.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe screenshot

The arenas are smartly laid out with special mention to the Splatoon themed one (Urchin Underpass) and the SNES Battle Course, which still gives me goosebumps. The modes are fun, and yes, Nintendo has made Battle Mode an actual fun thing to do again, online or offline. Smaller changes like adding a third slide-boost add tactics to all modes, but there’s no question that Battle Mode is back, and the most attention has been lavished upon it.

Elsewhere, then, the biggest change is the fact you can have two power-ups at a time. Because of this, there will be some sections where you can grab two at a time, though it’s fairly easy to slide round a corner and grab two anyway. Everything is unlocked from the start, too, meaning Mirror Mode and 200CC are there along with all the tracks to try them on. This is a bit of a double edged sword, because for new players it’s great, but for those of us returning there’s an ever so slight lack of direction. Part of the fun is unlocking things, but here you’re just unlocking Kart customisations via coins.

MK8 Deluxe screenshot

It’s difficult to really say more than that without ending up sounding like a fawning idiot. This is a brilliant game that runs so well on a new console, and it’s one that you will be so glad to have on Switch – the ability to just play it anywhere, anytime should not be understated for a game like this, because it’s perfect pick up and play material. It’s not going to change your mind on the console, but if you never owned a Wii U then you can now buy the definitive version of the best Mario Kart since the original SNES one. I’m hooked all over again, and so are my boys. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is fantastic. No, it doesn’t have a mass of new content, but the changes it makes and the additions it brings do indeed make for a definitive edition.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a beautiful game that just works for all ages and abilities, this time it even includes smart steering to aid newer players. When we came time to pick our Game of the Year for 2014, I said I had to read my original review to remind myself why I hadn’t given it full marks. I wrote that “the battle mode is truly lazy”, and thus felt it wasn’t quite deserving of that ten out of ten. Now, three years on, Nintendo has listened, and acted accordingly. I’m a man of my word, folks.



Might be the perfect handheld game
Battle Mode is finally complete
Splatoon characters feel great


No new tracks

Editor Rating
Our Score


In Short

Deluxe may be the wrong word for it, but this is the definitive Mario Kart 8 experience, which ultimately makes it one of the best kart-racers ever made.