Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
When it first launched in May 2014, Mario Kart 8 was championed as one of the Wii U's most entertaining titles, but also as the apex of the entire Mario Kart series. Now, nearly three years later, an enhanced version of the mascot racer is making its way to Nintendo's latest console, the Switch, with a ton of new features in tow. Most of these additions have already been revealed, but this serves as a nice round-up for everything that will be new.
Right off the bat, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe comes packaged with all of the Wii U version's DLC, from Link and his home stage of Hyrule Circuit, to the endearingly wacky Mercedes-Benz kart bodies. On top of the baked-in DLC, Deluxe will also include a wealth of new content, including five new racers, bringing the grand total of playable characters to a series-high of 42 (but still no Birdo, who has been sadly missing in action since Mario Kart Wii). The new challengers are Dry Bones, King Boo, Bowser Jr., and Splatoon characters Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl. In addition, Splatoon-themed amiibos can now be used to unlock outfits for Mii racers.
No new courses are being developed for the traditional races, but the original release's oft-derided take on Battle Mode is getting a complete overhaul. Mario Kart 8 tried to shake up the classic Battle Mode formula by removing the traditional enclosed arenas and having the action take place on the normal circuits. Ultimately, the fandom unanimously rejected this approach, and Nintendo noticed. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe completely replaces the Wii U's Battle Mode, setting the action on eight arenas (five new, three from classic Mario Kart titles) and bringing back fan-favorite modes like Bob-Omb Blast, Shine Thief, and Coin Runners. A brand new mode, Renegade Roundup, has players attempting to capture one another with potted Piranha Plants.
Rounding out the package are a series of small, but significant, improvements: a new Smart Steering control setting will keep less experienced players from constantly falling out of bounds and falling hopelessly behind the pack; characters will be able to carry two items instead of just one, allowing for more action-packed races; when played in the Switch's Docked Mode, the game runs at 1080p, a marked boost from the Wii U's 720p mode.
LAN support allows for large-scale portable competition; of course, classic four-player split-screen mode in Docked Mode is still being supported. Additionally, two-player split-screen is possible in Portable Mode with sideways Joy-Con controllers.
All told, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe aims to be the definitive edition of the crown jewel of the Wii U library, with the same classic gameplay and personality of the original Mario Kart 8, but with a slew of improvements, refinements, and enhancements.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe launches on Nintendo Switch on April 28 for $59.99. A new Joy-Con Wheel accessory will launch alongside the game for $14.99, allowing players to hold their Joy-Con controllers like a car's steering wheel, as was the case in Mario Kart Wii. For more on Mario Kart 8, check out GI's original review here.