Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review – Bigger, Brighter and Better

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review

Polish those shells, start your engines and Lets-a Go! Mario Kart 8 returns with the Deluxe version for the Nintendo Switch. Fall in love once again with everyone’s favorite kart racer while taking advantage of the fully mobile playability of the Switch to crush your opponents on the go.

If you played Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U then you already know the basics; players race across a multitude of brightly colored and exciting tracks through various Nintendo kingdoms while choosing from a generous selection of riders. Many players were disappointed when Mario Kart 8 dropped a number of drivers from the previous iteration, but the Switch version more than makes up for it with all of the previous DLC included as well as new additions like Dry Bowser, King Boo, and the Inklings of Splatoon fame. Kart customization returns and tweaking your vehicle to best suit your style – as well as selecting your rider by weight class – is a great little feature that adds much needed customization to the series yet is simple enough for a novice.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Top Screen

Battle mode, a sorely missed feature, returns with a bang. I had initially expected Battle mode to be the same Balloon Battle mode of old with a facelift, but I was greatly mistaken. Balloon Battle does return, of course, with karting enthusiasts frantically trying to shoot each other down being just as amazingly hectic as you remember, and yet it’s still only the tip of the iceberg in what Battle mode has to offer.


“It is absolute chaos and sure to bring about hours of trash talking and flying elbows on the couch.”

If you’re looking for the most challenging and frantic game mode available, look no further than Shine Thief. Each player has a 20-second countdown timer, in which they must individually hold the Shine Sprite (which many players will recognize from Super Mario Sunshine). While carrying the Shine Sprite, all other players will be homing in and frantically trying to force you to release it, launching it far from the karts and creating yet another mad scramble. The first person to hold it for 20 seconds wins. It is absolute chaos and sure to bring about hours of trash talking and flying elbows on the couch. Not to mention the similarly challenging Renegade Roundup, Bob-omb Blast, and Coin Runners.

Mario Kart Deluxe 8 does allow you to play in the relaxed mode of using only the joycons but I found it much easier to use the joycon grip. The smaller joycons feel clumsy when loose with the grip option providing a much more controlled experience. While I don’t have access to a Pro Controller, I can definitely see it being the best option for this game.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Pic

Playing multiplayer with just the joycon will be painful for those with larger hands. While in principle it should by fine, it will take a fair bit of practice before being able to drive adequately – and forget using motion controls without having Nintendo’s wheel peripheral. While the wrist strap does add button extenders which help drastically with the Drift/Item buttons as well as the general size of the controller, I found my hands cramping up pretty easily between races.

Mario Kart 8 also includes some features that greatly increase its accessibility for the younger gamers in your family. Players not only have the option of toggling motion control off and on, but the options to have the accelerator constantly pressed for you as well as a steering assist mode. This means you can hand a joycon to your little brother and he actually has a fighting chance of winning… if you let him. While the CPU won’t use items, it can still hold its own on pure driving skill. I tried out a few races with it in the second player spot and was amazed to see it pull off fourth place on the first track. These driving assistance options can be over-ridden with controller input but simply putting the controller down will have the game take over. It really is a considerate and rather adorable feature for Nintendo to include.


“Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the greatest multiplayer experiences Nintendo has produced in a long time.” 

Now, let’s get back to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s biggest perk, fully mobile gaming. You can bring your Switch to work and race a co-worker in the break room. You can go virtually anywhere and play two player split screen on the console at the drop of a hat and for those with a busy life style it is absolutely worth it to be able to pump out a few laps to pass the time. While a game like Breath of the Wild is nice to have the mobile option, sometimes you only have 15 minutes to kill which happens to be the perfect time to complete a Championship Cup. It is seamless and chaotic fun no matter how you choose to play and it was a smart move on the part of Nintendo to transfer this much loved title to the Switch.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Screen

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of the greatest multiplayer experiences Nintendo has produced in a long time. With enhanced graphics, all previous DLC included as well as bonus characters, and the return of the Battle mode, this is a party game for any occasion. It is fantastic family fun for all ages, especially with Nintendo including drive-assist features for those new to gaming. While playing with joycons will be awkward to those with larger hands, the multiple gameplay options and fully mobile capabilities of the Switch make this an absolute must have in every gamer’s library.

***A Switch code was provided by Nintendo Canada***

The Good

  • Mobile Multiplayer
  • Family Friendly Controls
  • Battle Mode
  • Classic Fun

The Bad

  • Joycon Cramps