Nintendo knows what they’re doing when it comes to revamping flagships, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is no exception. They brought back the best of old games, added it to the stellar graphics and soundtrack of Mario Kart 8, and managed to make it friendlier for beginners.

Now that friend who always loses has a slightly higher chance of making the top four! Don’t worry, you can still crush their pitiful hopes and dreams.

New Additions

In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you’ll see some neat additions to the game that just add to the previous fun. We should mention that this rendition is the same Mario Kart 8 that was released on the Wii U with a few extra goodies. Not only was the game completely rendered to match the power of the Nintendo Switch but the developers also added six new lovable characters were introduced this time around: King Boo, Bowser Jr., Dry Bones, Inkling Boy, and Inkling Girl. The Splatoon family decided to make a showing! You’ll also unlock the new Gold Mario, but only if you complete the game in 200cc mode (or as I like to call it “This is stupid fast” mode). There were a few kart additions as well, such as the Splat Buggy and Super Glider.

Gameplay Changes

While I believe that the new characters and karts were nifty, the important changes were the new gameplay features that were added to the game.

Auto Acceleration: No more achy thumb! Yes, that’s right, Auto acceleration causes the vehicle to automatically accelerate. This function is super nifty because, now, instead of the player having to hold down the acceleration button the entire time your kart will do that for you. While I found this feature to not be my cup of tea, it is great for people learning how to play.

Smart Steering: Smart steering is another great addition for beginners! Smart steering keeps your player from going off the edges of the track. Again for more experienced players this almost feels a little babyish but those of you that have little ones that you want to introduce them to the world of Mario Kart can have them experience the game in a little less torturous world.

Ultra Mini-Turbo: If there is anything that the third installment of Fast and the Furious has taught me it is “Never stop drifting.” Ever. While drifting pay close attention to the color of the sparks. The sparks will turn blue, then orange, and lastly pink. Once they hit light purple you know that you have maximized the speed boost that drifting gives you. let go of the button and you be zooming off, hopefully, to take the lead.

Double Item Capacity: You can now hold two items at a time… That means DOUBLE the red shells and ruined friendships. Hurray!

No More Fire Hopping: If you were one of those people, you can’t be anymore. I don’t feel bad for you. For those of you that don’t know what that is, Fire Hopping (or Frogging) is done by performing a Drift ending with a speed boost, and immediately hopping left and right while the fire is spewing out the exhaust, hence the name (well not Frogging, that’s dumb). If this is connected correctly a player will increase the speed and distance of the Drift Boost, this is because you lose less speed while airborne, and a successful Fire Hop can give you an extended boost. Since this was cut out of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe version though I suppose it’s a mute point.

Battle Mode: While Battle Mode is nothing new to the Mario Kart world, it did get some neat tweaks and additions, which spice up that old style of gameplay a bit. Each player now starts with five balloons (as oppose to four) and zero points. Another little irksome thing added; you are now told which character hit who, further ruining friendships. A few of your favorite modes were brought back like Balloon Battle, Bob-omb Blast, Coin Runners, and Shine Thief. Renegade Roundup is a new game mode that was added this time around, where you divide into two teams and use Potted Piranha Plants to capture the opposing team. Renegade Roundup has a very familiar feel to a  cops-and-robbers style chase meets Freeze tag, since one of those two teams are trying apprehends members of the opposing team while preventing foes from freeing locked up suspects.

Graphics and Handling

The graphics in this game are fabulous, as always. It brings the perfect mix of cartoonish whimsy and “Hey, this really looks like a racetrack.” I was really impressed with how crystal clear the Switch was on my huge TV. While nothing jumped out that ‘wowed’ me, I have zero complaints.

The biggest change for myself was the handling. I used one of the tiny Joy-Con controllers and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it handled. After a couple race or two, it felt perfectly normal to me. I did notice, however, that you have a slight advantage with the pro controller. It felt as if you had better steering abilities with it. Is there any truth to this claim? I think so. Am I perhaps just bitter that the person with the pro controller won almost every time? Definitely.

The Verdict

I have always enjoyed Mario Kart games, and this one was no exception. I was thoroughly impressed with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It felt true to the previous games yet offered those small details that made it feel refreshed. The graphics were fabulous, the soundtrack was enjoyable, and the tracks were challenging. Just throw in some friends that don’t mind being yelled at and you have a solid game night!

One of my favorite parts about this upgrade is how beginner friendly it is. I am atrocious at racing games, and very seldom play them, so playing the first race with their new ‘training wheel’ features really helped me. Once I had the hang of it the auto acceleration and steering were easy to turn off.

I never thought I’d say this, but after playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, I am actually contemplating buying a Switch. GG, Nintendo.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review
The Good
  • Fun new content
  • Same classic feel
  • Training wheels
The Bad
  • Still a family and friend ruiner (totally sarcastic)
9Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

About The Author

Lexie P.
Editorial/Review Staff

Lexie's love for video games started early when she was rarely seen without her GameBoy, and traded Oreos with the neighbor kid to play his N64. Throughout the years Lexie has developed into a PC gamer, specializing in horror and MOBAs. She has been a game writer for a few years now and has previously worked at PAX West.