Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review (BUY/WAIT/AVOID?)

Jonathan Birkenstamm reviews Mario Kart 8: Deluxe, the Nintendo Switch’s second must-have game.  But, should you BUY it now, WAIT for a sale, or AVOID?

I loved Mario Kart in my youth.  I played both the original and N64 versions of Mario Kart to death. I played them so much I entered a local tournament in my town.  And won.  Mario Kart was my most played game back then; I had to get first place on every track in every mode, anything less felt like coming last. All that stopped after Mario Kart Double Dash. I guess you could say “I grew out of it.”




After more than ten years of not playing a Mario Kart game, I was really excited to get Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on my Nintendo Switch. For the most part, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the same game released on the Wii U back in 2014, but with some significant enhancements over the original offering. Forty-eight courses are unlocked and ready to play right off the bat, plus all forty-two characters, all modes, and all of the DLC content sold subsequent to the original release.  Pretty much the only unlockables in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are the kart parts, which was a good decision on Nintendo’s part, as it gives players full access to the content immediately.

Nintendo has added a few more modes to this version of the game.  For one, a 200cc mode has been added, adding a new level of challenge. Having been out of the game for more than ten years, the 200cc mode literally kicked my ass. Another new feature is the ability to carry two items instead of just one, reminiscent of Double Dash.  Battle mode has also received a revamp, following negative comments about the mode on the Wii U version.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe runs in 1080P at 60 FPS in docked mode and at 720P undocked in handheld mode; both look amazing.

Switch’s can easily be connected to play locally with friends; 4 players can play locally but unusually when numerous Switch systems are connected, only 2 players can play on a single system.  Therefore, if you connect two Switch’s, only four players can play the game in total.  This is a bizarre decision; I’m not sure whether it is a poor decision by Nintendo, or if there is a limitation with the Switch hardware when connecting systems together.

Things improve when playing online, as you can take on up to twelve other players from around the world.  This worked well for the most part, however, I did experience a few disconnects.  Battle mode works the same way, but the modes are randomized between Classic Battle mode, Renegade Roundup, Bob-omb Blast, Coin Runners, and Shine Thief.  Classic Battle mode is my least favorite, as for whatever reason Nintendo decided to change it from a last-man-standing to a points system. Call me nostalgic, but I prefer the last-man-standing version. The points system felt very unsatisfying. The other modes were fun, but not long or deep enough to keep me invested.

The best feature of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the fact that you can take the game anywhere; that functionality alone is worth picking up the game. Bringing Mario Kart 8 to the Nintendo Switch was an inevitable move by Nintendo, but one that has paid dividends.  I’ve had a blast playing – even when having my ass handed to me in the 200cc mode.

BUY/WAIT/AVOID?

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a brilliant game and a worthy title in the franchise. Even if you bought Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, the ability to play Mario Kart anywhere makes this version a must-buy.  Mario Kart 8: Deluxe is undoubtedly a game worth buying a Nintendo Switch to play.

Final Verdict: BUY