Mario Kart 8 Deluxe releases exclusively for the Switch by the end of the month (April 28th) and some journalists already received their review copy from the Nintendo teams. Ditching them may polarize fans who appreciate the challenge, but Mario Kart 8 Deluxe becomes a stronger experience by removing the wall that separates the players from the full game.
As shoppers walk through the doors to the store, motion sensors fire up flashing lights and play Mario's catchy theme song. It's no other than Mario Kart 8, and so far, everything's been moonlight and roses.
Rich Stanton of Kotaku writes that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remains the same Mario Kart 8 that everyone loves, putting "fun above fairness". Make no mistake, playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as a handheld game is a transformative experience.
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 Battle Mode has been ridiculously revamped too, with new special customised arenas giving you a much tighter, frenetic multiplayer mode.
Five modes are playable over eight maps - three of which are revivals of past classics, including Super Mario Kart's Battle Course 1 which comes complete with a delicious rendition of its theme tune - all of which helps restore some glory to a side of Mario Kart that's gone unloved in recent iterations.
There are inherent advantages that the Nintendo Switch version includes that can't be matched by the Wii U or the 3DS' Mario Kart 7. Fortunately, the company also saw it fit to breathe new life into the game with a number of heavily desired gameplay additions, which makes revisiting the title an absolute must for Switch owners.
The "Boo" option is also back, which not only renders you invisible during Battle Modes (enabling you to get a jump on your opponent), but also enables you to steal power-ups from them that you can use over the course of the event.
It's not unusual to get a sense of familiarity when playing a Nintendo game.
Mario Kart 8 introduced subtle but ridiculously effective mid-race antigravity transformations, meaning that parts of the track would have you driving up walls and on ceilings. 200cc was originally added as free DLC for the Wii U version of the game. New additions to the roster come in returning favourites King Boo, Dry Bones and Bowser Jr., Splatoon's Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl, and Gold Mario - with the metallic moustachioed hero being the only unlockable character. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remedies the problem. Still, Breath of the Wild has proven to be a sandbox, while franchises like Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. are not. Single and two-player modes stick to 60fps in the Switch version but, much like the Wii U version, we see a drop to 30fps for more than two players.
"Mario Kart 8 Deluxe" makes the 2014 release of "Mario Kart 8" for the Wii U look like a beta.
After 25 years, Mario Kart has deservedly earned a legendary status in the videogames pantheon, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best version of the game Nintendo has ever made. You can bring your Switch to work and race a co-worker in the break room. Coin Runners, Shine Thief and Bob-omb Blast (in which everyone gets their own explosion-colour, so you can see who is blowing up whom) are all great fun to play and all the modes are flawless for post-pub party action. You'll know who is using the auto-modes thanks to a little antenna on the back on their karts. Otherwise, if that's not your thing there's a LAN option for up to 12 players, something we couldn't test for the review but will no doubt come in handy at tournaments and events. This means up to four people can play the game split-screen on the one Switch.
While Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn't revolutionary - in fact, it's more of the same - it can't be understated that what is here is actually a fantastic package.