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Video Game Review

Mario Kart 8: Deluxe

By: Gazette Staff

Mario Kart is one of the best selling franchises in Nintendo history, so it’s no wonder why the latest installment for the Nintendo Switch is more polished and enjoyable than ever before. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe builds on the series’ quintessential aspects better than any past Mario Kart, and some neat extras like the unbelievably fast 200cc speed class. Skillful track design, robust tournament and online features, and gorgeous graphics all fall into place here.

As you approach the starting line, you’ll notice the apparent changes Nintendo has made to ease the frustrations from previous installments. Everything moves at a faster pace. Characters and vehicle customization parts unlock quickly, Lakitu helps you recover faster, and new items like the Piranha Plant and Boomerang Flower make for useful additions without throwing off Mario Kart’s delicate balance. And finally, the new Super Horn stops the much-maligned Blue Shell dead in its tracks, allowing skill to prevail more often than ever before.

Mario Kart 8’s unique track designs carefully factor in new obstacles like antigravity. Some tracks, like Wario Stadium, use it to great effect, but retro tracks like Donut Plains 3 rely on good ol’ kart racing skills. The careful layout of boost pads and item boxes provide plenty of opportunities to make comebacks without it feeling cheap or unearned. The deceptively simple shortcuts often felt risky, making me weigh my options mid-race depending on how I was doing rather than blindly jumping into the alternate routes ahead.

The latest roster tops off at 42 characters, and offers a wide selection of mascots to choose from,
including the amazing Koopa kids. However, the overload of babies in this installment floods the roster with smaller racers that feel too similar to their big brother/sister counterparts. Overall, the list is great but more obscure characters would’ve been welcome additions.

Mario Kart 8: Deluxe offers a bunch of modes to engage you in. Nintendo added five smart objective-
based modes, and each one brings its own unique competitive angle to its eight varied arenas. You can play any of these modes against bots of varying intelligence, but the real fun is online. That said, the online suite is still a pretty barebones an experience because you still have to use outside means (like your phone) to communicate with friends. It’s aggravating that there’s no way to invite players to join your matches, also. Considering this is the first major online multiplayer game for Switch, it’s disappointing to see that so little was done to smooth out that experience.

Overall Mario Kart 8: Deluxe is as stunning as it is addictive and the minor setbacks here and there are nothing to fret about when the racing experience is the best that it has ever been. The rest of the game still holds up due to its solid delivery on a 22 year old classic. Returning fans and newcomers alike will find that this game is going to occupy that little cartridge slot on the top of your Switch for a while.