Also available on Wii U
Having had an extremely unsuccessful console with the Wii U, Nintendo has been doing a fair bit of porting their games to Switch and 3DS. Between Hyrule Warriors, Yoshi's Woolly World, Breath of the Wild, and now Mario Kart 8, former Wii U exclusives are often available on other platforms, sometimes with slight upgrades and sometimes with slight downgrades. So how does Mario Kart 8 Deluxe stack up against the original Wii U release now that it's graced the Switch with its presence? Imagine someone gives you the best birthday present in the world, and when you've finally regained your compose, they shout "BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!" Yeah, it's kind of like that.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is pretty much exactly the same game that you got on the Wii U with the inclusion of all DLC (including the Mercedes-Benz karts) and a few new extras. The resolution (while docked) is a full 1080p rather than the Wii U's upscaled 720p, and - for those who notice such things - the weird dropped frame issue in the Wii U version has been fixed (check out Digital Foundry's video that shows the random drop to 59 fps), keeping this release locked at a solid and (as far as I can tell) unwavering 60 fps. There are six new characters - King Boo, Dry Bones, Bowser Jr, the Inkling boy and girl, and Gold Mario (unlockable by beating all 12 grand prix cups on 200 cc). With the exception of Gold Mario, all drivers are unlocked from the start. There are also a few new kart options and a totally revamped Battle Mode with eight battle courses - three old ones and five all new ones. My favorite addition (aside from Inkling girl; she's my waifu), however, is the return of the double item box and ability to hold two items. It was one of the things I thought made Double Dash the best game in the series until Mario Kart 8, and it was my only real complaint about Mario Kart 8 on Wii U.
What if you're a total scrub and never played Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, though? Well, let me break down for you why this is the best damn Mario Kart game ever made. Making a return from Mario Kart Wii are the bikes in addition to your standard karts, but new to Mario Kart 8 are the ATV class of vehicles. There are also (excluding the four DLC cups) four cups with redesigned tracks from previous Mario Kart games as well as four cups with all new tracks. Throw in local and online play, both of which are extremely smooth and - in case of online - completely devoid of lag or connection issues as far as my experience goes, and you truly have the definitive Mario Kart experience here. Add in the DLC and the few extras and enhancements from the Switch port, and best Mario Kart game ever made gets even bester.
While the racing is super tight and truly superb, the battle mode is possibly the aspect of this game that stands out the most simply because of how much it's been improved over its Wii U counterpart. The added battle arena tracks alone set it far above its original release (especially given how fond I am of the Splatoon themed battle arena). There are now five different game types in battle mode. The tried-and-true Balloon Battle has been altered from the original release of Mario Kart 8; instead of having a last man standing style of battle, it's now based on points with a time limit; if all of your balloons are popped, you respawn, but you lose half of your accumulated points. There's also Renegade Roundup which is basically just cops and robbers cross Mario Kart; Bob-omb Blast which is a spin on Balloon Battle where you just use a shit load of Bob-ombs; Coin Runners which is my least favorite, being just "collect more coins than the other guys;" and Shine Thief in which you much collect the Shine Sprite and hold onto it for 30 seconds. If you're hit and lose the Shine Sprite, your timer doesn't reset, but you have to reacquire it to start counting down again.
Now, of course, it wouldn't be a major first party release without some kind of amiibo functionality, right? Well, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe keeps the same basic amiibo functionality as the original release, but it adds in Splatoon themed Mii outfits that can be unlocked with Splatoon amiibos. It also expands the amiibo compatibility list by allowing you to use amiibo variations (for example, any of the eight Splatoon amiibos can unlock the Splatoon outfit, and any of the gazillion Animal Crossing amiibos or amiibo cards can unlock the Animal Crossing outfit). Personally, I would have liked to see Nintendo add a bit more here - something special for the gold Mario or Mega Man amiibos or the various Zelda or Monster Hunter amiibos, for example - but it's not bad for a little bullshit extra. If nothing else, it gives amiibo collectors a little something cool while not making those without amiibos feel screwed over.
I know I've said it a couple times already, but me reiterate again for those who didn't get it the first however many times - Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch is the greatest Mario Kart release to date. As far as I'm concerned, this is a concrete and indisputable scientific fact. I mean, hell, it sold over a million copies in less than a week and has a 1:2 adoption rate among Switch owners in the United States. There's a TON of fun to be had here both single player and multiplayer, and that multiplayer fun is just as good local as it is online. Set up a LAN party, set up an online game, or battle it out against the CPU at 200 cc. Whatever your preferred flavor, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has something to offer, and that something is basically crack cocaine. You need it. You NEED it. Trust me; you need it.
My Rating - 5 Neps
I'm a teacher.
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach high school history; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.