Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Preview – Nintendo’s First GOTY Edition?

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Jan 25, 2017
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It’s not often we see something akin to a Game of the Year edition from Nintendo, but this is the closest to it they’ve ever come before. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe isn’t really a significant expansion of any kind, but there is more content, new characters, an overhauled Battle Mode, better performance… And three years on from the Wii U release of Mario Kart 8 we have to ask, is it worth it? Well…

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The first thing you notice when you pick up Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is how beautiful it looks on the Switch screen. Mario Kart 8 ran on Wii U at 720p at all times, with an odd micro-stutter caused by the game not being sure whether it should run at 60FPS or 59FPS. For the most part, this was absolutely fine, and if you ask fans if the micro-stutter or low resolution ever bothered them, your queries will be met with a resounding no. The game looked utterly gorgeous, one of the best looking games of the generation at the time, and possibly still high on that list – indeed, in my opinion, Mario Kart 8 might be the very best that Mario Kart has ever been.

Then we move onto Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which brings over all the positive points of Mario Kart 8, and fixes a lot of the bad. That 59FPS is now rounded up to a solid 60FPS, the 720p resolution looks incredibly sharp on the Switch screen, and docking the device will see the resolution essentially doubled up to a native 1080p, offering more clarity than the game ever has before – it even sticks to 60FPS, instead of dropping down to 30FPS, when handling 4 player split-screen – pretty impressive for a small tablet console!

Indeed, even the primary complaint from many upon Mario Kart 8’s launch was the lack of unique Battle Mode courses, which are now finally implemented, and are exactly what fans have been asking for since the launch of the original. Couple that with the two hefty DLC packs released for Mario Kart 8 – which are included in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – and you’ve got a massive package, boasting much more content than when Mario Kart 8 originally launched on Wii U.

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However, this, for me especially, is a bitter pill to swallow. I’m one of those people who adored Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U, and happily bought both DLC packs, and played for hours upon end – even the dreaded 200cc mode, adding a significant burst of speed to the game and finally necessitating the brake, was entirely completed, with Gold trophies and 3 stars on every cup. So, for someone like me who bought and played most of this content already, what is there?

There’s Battle Mode, yes, with new courses, a few new characters, a handful of karts and bikes… But is that really it? Is that enough to warrant anyone who played and bought the DLC for the original to buy the entire thing again? To be honest, I’m not so sure, and I really struggle to justify the purchase – until I think of playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on my lunch break, getting jealous look from a friend, and being able to pass them a JoyCon so we can play absolutely anywhere. Do I want to pay for this game again? Absolutely not. Is the allure of a portable version of one of the best Kart racers really, really strong? Damn right it is.

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