Forgotten titles from the late Wii U's library deserve renewed attention. The first to get some is Mario Kart 8 with the Nintendo Switch's Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. In this re-release, Nintendo has tweaked the design of the Wii U original and crafted the definitive Mario Kart experience.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers players new and improved content with the return of Battle Mode to its former glory and the inclusion of most of the content from the Wii U version, DLC included. For those who didn't pay extra for all of MK8's post-launch content, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has much to offer.
The game has forty-eight tracks to race on. Classic tracks have fresh twists that capitalize on the changes made to the core Kart mechanics through the years and the new tracks are fun to race on and remain some of Nintendo's best Mario Kart content.
The best news for veteran players is that all content is ready to be played from the start. There is no tedious requirement to unlock, for a second time, later cups in order to race on your favorite courses. Newcomers, though, will miss out on the fun of unlocking new content as they progress.
A notable addition in Deluxe is the ability to carry two items, a feature from Double Dash!! that was absent in Mario Kart 8. Picking up and hanging on to two items adds a layer of strategy to the game and increases the odds of random craziness erupting during each race. There are also two-item item blocks, as in Double Dash!!, so there is plenty of chaos as items are thrown constantly that turn big leads into sour defeat.
The most important part of Deluxe is the proper return of Battle Mode. After the awful version in the Wii U original, Nintendo has fixed the one element that held it back by having eight courses specific to Battle available to play on, omitting the use of standard race tracks for Battle. The Battle Mode courses are well designed and allow for the execution of the mode's core mechanics effectively. The newly created courses, such as "Dragon Shrine" or the Splatoon-themed stage, are some of the best to date, and the older courses included are still enjoyable.
Battle Mode includes five modes for players to enjoy. There are the classics - "Balloon Battle", "Bob-omb Blast", "Shine Thief", and "Coin Runners" - and the new "Renegade Roundup."
Bob-omb Blast returns from Double Dash!! and tasks players with throwing bob-ombs to hit each other and earn points. Shine Thief also comes back from Double Dash!!, and in it players have to collect the big Shine and stop other players from getting it. One may steal the Shine by getting items and hitting the carrier to free it for another player to grab. This mode ends when the time runs out or a player holds the Shine for a set period of time that carries over even if they lose the Shine.
Coin Runners is a franchise staple. In it, players collect the most coins before the timer runs out. Renagade Roundup, on the other hand, is a new mode that essentially is a game of cops and robbers. Players are put into teams and one side is armed with piranha plants used to catch opponents. The other side must avoid these and free any team members who have been captured. This is a great new addition to the game and is the most fun when you are fleeing your would-be captors.
Though Battle Mode has returned and is the most fun part of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it isn't perfect. Some of the modes' mechanics are inconsistent with the rest of the game. Bom-omb Blast requires you to hold down the throw button to launch the bob-omb further, which is not present when using bob-ombs in the rest of the game. Balloon Battle is dull because it uses points and there is no option for the classic "deathmatch" style that was so fun in the past.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe includes new options that make the game easier to play. These are tailored for younger players so, finally, you can play with your young child or relative without getting frustrated. "Smart steering" keeps players on the tracks and away from walls and "auto-accelerate" eliminates the need to hold the button to drive. It has never been easier to sit and play a game with a younger family member.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a solid racing game that greatly improves upon the original Wii U version. If you are a Nintendo Switch owner this is another must own game. Come for the solid kart racing and great tracks and stay for the welcome return of Battle Mode. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the definitive Mario Kart experience.
(Check out our review of the Wii U original.)