Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Review: Hands down the best portable racing experience


There is something special about Mario Kart that resonates with fanboys of Nintendo, and while I was not a hardcore fanboy of the series, things have changed now. I remember playing Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U and having a blast, so when the Switch's library of games dwindled, all hope in the console relied on a port. I have never been so happy to play a port in my life as I was playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I happened to be in the New York Nintendo Store on launch day, and the hype was beyond anything I have experienced in my life. Fans of the game screaming and shouting, lines so long it took me an hour to pay for a shirt, and the local in-store tournament was heated as two players went head to head in the battle mode.

This experience awakened my Nintendo fanboy inside me, as there was just nothing I could say to ruin the day. To be in the only Nintendo Store in the world, on the day one of your favorite games launched, was a once in a lifetime experience. The only issue I had, was that my game was all the way in SA, but I did get a few hours hands on in the store to curb my appetite. When I got back to SA however, jet lagged and all, I was determined to play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. 


The Deluxe version of Mario Kart 8 is much more than just a port however, as it feels like the definitive version of the game. Sure, Nintendo has not gone as far as and drastic as the port seen in 2014's Wind Waker, but the move up to a crisper 1080p while docked, and a solid 720p 60fps in portable mode, makes it one of the most gorgeous games on the Switch. Dare I say even prettier than Breath of the Wild. 48 tracks to race across, makes it the complete package, that includes the previous DLC packs in the Wii U version. With 42 racers, we also see some new faces never released before like the Inklings from Splatoon. The Deluxe version includes, and probably my favorite addition, the 200cc cup, which boost the speed of the karts beyond anything seen in the series. Trust me, it is an intense game mode that adds so much fun to the game. 

While these new additions are all good, the most questionable new feature is the Smart Steering, which is just a hot mess. I think Nintendo wanted new users to be able to play the game with some sort of autopilot, but in turn added a feature that does not do well with anyone. A friend of mine was over who has never played Mario Kart before, and even they were interrupted by the awkward control takeover that comes into play when using this mode. You cannot turn corners and drift properly to activate turbo, and shortcuts are often missed due to the steering pushing in the “correct” path. If you have ever played a racing game before, then please turn this off. 


What makes Mario Kart 8 Deluxe so epically awesome (yes bad journalism there), is the fact that it makes use of the Switch's hardware so darn well. In a world where PS4 Pro ports are still at 1080p, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a gorgeous example of how to make use of your hardware. The Joy-Con acts as two separate controllers for multiplayer, and the game is just gorgeous from top to bottom. Playing on a TV in docked mode resulted in a crisp 1080p 60FPS, with details and colour that was washed out in the Wii U version. The portable mode also delivers stunning visual quality beyond anything I have ever seen in a portable gaming device. The shakes from the haptic feedback in the Joy-Cons are on point, and the overall console is comfortable even after a dozen races. 

From the TV to the airport, I am sure Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the next reason to invest in a Nintendo Switch. Most of all the new additional features make it feel like more than just a port. The Battle Mode, in particular, has seen quite the new set of additions with five new modes added across a wide selection of eight maps. From popping balloons to tossing bombs at other players in the Bob-bomb blast mode. The Battle Mode has gone from the most lackluster mode in the game, to one that sits side by side next to the great kart racing.


Whatever you do in this lifetime, you have to make sure you grab a Joy-Con and race in Mario Kart 8. Be it on the portable mode, on a TV, or even using the device in its kickstand mode. The game is a jewel, and Nintendo has yet proved that the Switch has so much potential, and they are determined to push the device to the limit.

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Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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