Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Family Fun Racing for the Nintendo Switch
Released in April 2017 for the Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a fitting addition to one of the best-loved racing series ever made. Featuring all of your favourite characters from the Super Mario universe, and a few more besides, it offers family-friendly racing action, multiplayer thrills, and the kind of colourful, cartoony visuals Nintendo fans have come to adore.
This buyer's guide will introduce everything you need to know about the Switch's finest racer, along with a few buying tips for fans who want to accessorise their experience. So strap yourself in, and get ready for the race of a lifetime.
A Quick History of the Mario Kart: One of Gaming's Greatest Racers
Mario Kart has become a staple of the Nintendo collection, seeing new versions for pretty much every console the Japanese giants have produced. And when you play the original version (released for the SNES in 1992), it's easy to see why.
The first Mario Kart title introduced almost all of the elements that still make these games a joy to play. The cartoon graphics, famous personalities, easy to race and creatively designed circuits, and simple dynamics made Mario Kart an instant hit, and spawned a whole genre of karting titles.
After the SNES version, further instalments arrived in 1996 (for the Nintendo 64), followed by Super Circuit for the Gameboy Advance in 2001, and Double Dash!! for the Gamecube in 2003. After that, the DS received an updated version in 2005, before the Wii version landed in 2008, then the 3DS in 2011, and Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U in 2014.
Not much changed with the gameplay basics during those 20 years, although there have been a few innovations. For instance, Mario Kart 8 introduced “anti-gravity” segments where karts could flip onto the ceiling, while Mario Kart 7 introduced “hang-gliding” elements to enhance certain vehicles. But the developers have obviously stuck to the maxim that “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”, because the latest Mario Kart title is a direct descendant of the SNES version, and as far as sheer enjoyment goes, that's a very good thing.
How Has Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Updated the Classic Mario Kart Action?
Having said that, fans of previous Mario Kart titles will certainly notice a few changes. This is obviously most obvious in the visual department. The Switch is more powerful than any previous Nintendo console, allowing the developers to pack in more action and immerse the player even more deeply in each race.
Compared to Mario Kart 8, the frame rate has been increased considerably, to 60fps at 1080p, fitting the Switch's graphical power relative to the Wii U. There are more circuits to race as well, while older features such as "Boos" and "Feathers" have been reinstated due to popular demand. As we'll see, the character roster has been increased to include some familiar faces, there are new suits to unlock, and everything just feels more complete than the 2014 title.
And Nintendo have also revisited the basic controls, bringing in a novice setting to ease newbies into the action. Thanks to Smart Steering, anyone can take control and win races, before graduating to grown-up modes.
For those who haven't played Mario Kart 8, the action is pretty simple. Basically, players take control of personalities from the Mario universe, racing them around circuits in championship and battle modes.
As races proceed, players can enhance their vehicles with pick-ups, including speed boosts and weapons, and vehicles can be converted into hang-gliders, motorbikes or submarines for certain circuits.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Items, Weapons, and Coins
One of the major limitations of Mario Kart 8 was being able to only one item at a time. Mario Kart 8 has addressed this and players now have the ability to have two items at a time! Throughout the race, players can either pick up two separate single item boxes individually or pick up a new double item box! In these boxes, there are a range of items, including:
Boos – Ghosts from Super Mario titles, Boos allow players to become invisible for short periods of time.
Feathers – Allow players to perform leaps, which can let them steal items from other players if they time the move right.
Boomerang Flowers – A throwable weapon that lets you take out competitors three times before the flower disappears.
Piranha Plants – Another way to take out other racers, the Piranha Plant also delivers a turbo boost every time you use it.
Super Horns – When you honk this horn, the shock wave takes out any players in its path.
Green Shells – The old favourite from way back, green shells are like torpedos, knocking out any karts they come across.
Red Shells – Like green shells, but more powerful, thanks to their homing abilities.
Triple Green Shells – Provide a handy shield for a limited time, as well as the ability to throw three green shells.
Banana – When trailed behind your kart, bananas head off sneaky attacks, and you can drop them as well, causing carnage for players directly behind you.
Mushrooms – Eat these 'shrooms and your kart will whiz into the distance, thanks to their short term turbo boost. Look out for golden mushrooms for the longest speed boost of all.
Stars – Provide invincibility for a limited period, as in all Mario titles.
Bob-omb – Act like grenades, sitting on the track for a few seconds, before blowing up anything in its vicinity.
Bloopers – Ghost-like pickups that spurt ink on karts ahead of you, making them much harder to pilot.
Spiny Shells – A killer pick-up if you're lagging behind, spiny shells zero in on the race leader.
Lightning – Resets the pick-ups for everyone, which can be handy if you're out of weapons.
Bullet Bill – Another powerful pick-up, this converts the player into Bullet Bill, who acts like a battering ram, propelling their kart through the rankings.
Item Boxes – Act as a lucky dip item. Anything could come out of these, adding an exciting random element to every race.
In addition to those pick-ups, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also revolves around currency. To succeed, racers will need to accumulate coins while they race, which can be used to enhance your kart and buy power-ups. They allow you to upgrade your kart body to more powerful varieties, and also have an effect during races, boosting your speed appreciably the more you collect.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Characters
One of the most enjoyable aspects of any Mario Kart title is being able to play as personalities from Nintendo's gaming universe, and that's certainly the case with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Here are some of the superstars available to race as, and against:
Baby Daisy and Baby Peach – The lightest, but not the fastest racers, the baby princesses corner like demons and are really easy to handle. They are joined in this class by other diminutive racers like Lemmy Koopa, Baby Luigi, Baby Mario, and Dry Bones.
Yoshi and the Adult Princesses – Moving up the weight category, you'll find Mario's sidekick Yoshi, as well as Daisy and Peach in adult form.
Mario and Luigi – In the middle of the cast, Mario and Luigi offer the best of both worlds, providing acceleration, handling, and speed.
Donkey Kong – Slightly heavier, Donkey Kong is resilient and fast (when he gets to top speed, which takes a while). He's joined in the same weight division by Roy Koopa and Rosalina.
Bowser and Wario – Some of the Mario world's worst villains occupy the heaviest niches.
Each of these racers has subtly different statistics, which you can check out as this Mario Kart 8 Deluxe wiki. It's also a good source of beginners tips, which should help you get to grips with the powerups, courses, and ways to improve your lap times.
Different Modes in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Along with different racers, powerups and vehicles, the final element in Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are its modes. This time around, the options are as follows:
Battle Mode – Not present in the original Mario Kart 8, Battle Mode has been resurrected for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The main battle mode is Balloon Blast. In this fight to the finish, racers start with 5 powerup balloons and gain points by taking out their competitors. The player with the most points when the time runs out is the winner.
Renegade Roundup – A variant of Battle Mode, in this mode players divide into teams. One team has to use potted piranha powerups to “capture” those in the opposing side, while the renegades have to try to keep as many players free as they can, within a preset timescale.
Bob-omb Blast – Similar to Balloon Blast, Bob-omb Blast sees players blasting away with Bob-ombs, in a much more destructive experience.
Coin Runners – Within a certain time limit, players need to frantically collect as many coins as possible. The richest racer when the time runs out is declared the champion.
Shine Thief – Similar to capture the flag games, in Shine Thief players have to capture and control the “Shine Spirit” for a period of 20 seconds while everyone else tries to knock it out of their possession.
Grand Prix – Not part of Battle Mode, in Grand Prix, racers just compete for places during “Cups”, all lasting 4 races.
Time Trials – More of a single player mode, in Time Trials, players race against the clock, or against a “Ghost” version of their vehicle which represents their best ever run.
Vs – A simple one on one race, where players can customise the racing conditions. Great fun for 2 players.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Tracks
Before moving on, we have to mention the vast variety of courses available with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. There are 48 in total, enough to keep players going for months until they work out the intricacies of each circuit.
The sheer number of courses is matched by their diversity and the attention to detail, which clearly went into designing them. For instance, courses vary from Yoshi Valley and the Royal Raceway (which should be familiar to all N64 racers), to Rainbow Road, the Zelda-inspired Wild Woods, F-Zero's Mute City, and Bowser's Castle.
When they play through the various circuits, Nintendo fans will be delighted by the scenery, with nods to Zelda's Hyrule and almost all of the Mario series' iconic locations. And if you aren't too worried about video gaming heritage, they all play pretty well, too.
How Do Amiibo's Work In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?
As with almost all current Nintendo titles, you can enhance the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe experience via Amiibos, the little figurines that Nintendo sell, and which interface with Switch or Wii U consoles.
In the case of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Amiibos allow you to unlock Mii suits that dramatically extend the personalities available to play. For example, you can unlock Mega Man, Sonic, or Samus from Metroid.
Most Amiibos should be catered for, but if you aren't sure, you can find a full list here.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Ad: The Biggest Mario Kart Game Yet!
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Critics Reviews
No Mario Kart titles have been a flop with critics, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe didn't buck the trend. To take a representative review, IGN gave the title 9.3 out of 10 and praised the extended courses set, a wider range of character options, as well as additions like “smart steering” to help beginners learn the rules of the road.
The Guardian awarded the title a full 5/5, calling it “an absolutely fantastic racing” experience. As with other reviewers, their expert liked the way the Wii U's DLC packs had been incorporated into the Switch title, as well as tweaks to the action such as anti-gravity. They were also enthused by new racers like the cast of Splatoon, a neat cross reference from another excellent Switch title.
Overall, the verdict was extremely positive, as a Metacritic rating of 92 suggests. Unlike some titles, the player ratings for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe almost matched the critics, with very few unfavourable responses. So there's no room to doubt, this is a serious videogame with plenty of appeal.
Buy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Editions
If you want to add Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to your Switch collection, you have a few ways to do so:
The Standalone Title - The first option is to buy the title itself as a standalone purchase. If you choose this route, you can either purchase the physical or digital version. Bear in mind that digital purchases from the Nintendo store come with added Gold Points, which can be redeemed on future transactions, so Switch fans will probably want to take that option.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with Nintendo Online Subscription – However, many players will prefer to buy Mario Kart and a subscription to Nintendo's online gaming platform. You can do this via Nintendo or retailers like Amazon, and it makes sense. Buying the title and then a subscription separately rarely saves money, and if you want to enjoy online multiplayer Mario Kart, it's a no-brainer.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Bundles – If you don't yet own a Switch, why not buy the console alongside the latest Mario Kart title? The bundle first became available in December 2018, and should be available from merchants like Amazon, Currys, and Argos.
How Does Multiplayer Work in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?
If you want to play locally with friends, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ideal title. Up to four players can gather around a Switch with their Joycons to take part in Battle or race modes. Alternatively, you can link together Switch consoles, allowing as many as eight players to join the action.
And it doesn't end there. Multiple Switches can also be built into Local Area Networks, with as many as 12 consoles. You don't need to be in the same room to do this. All you need is a Switch console, a LAN adapter, and the Mario Kart title downloaded onto your system. That way, you can pack 12 friends onto Battle Arenas.
Then there is online play. With a Nintendo Online subscription, local players can join 10 other human racers in 4 race cups or battles.
Super Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC
As with the original Mario Kart 8, the Deluxe version has been augmented by additional content. Nintendo released a DLC Pack in July 2018 based around Zelda: Breath of the Wild, adding Hyrule-themed courses and vehicles, as well as Zelda-inspired racing personalities. So, if you've ever wanted to face up as Link against Luigi and Mario, now's your chance to do so.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Accessories
When you purchase Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, why not enhance the experience by adding some Switch accessories? There are a number of options to go for and you may save money by bundling them together with the Mario Kart purchase.
Joycon Wheels – Easily the best controller for Mario Kart, the Joycon Wheel is specifically designed for the Switch, turning the basic Joycon controller into a fully featured racing wheel.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Clothing and Apparel – True Mario fans will also love the chance to kit themselves out in Nintendo's official t-shirts.
Carrera Go Mario Kart Racing Sets – Carrera Go's physical racing sets are almost as much fun as the Switch version, and their Mario Kart-themed vehicles are a riot. A great purchase for parents with kids, or anyone who loves to play around with physical racing sets.
How and When to Purchase Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
You're almost on the starting grid, ready to leave Koopa and Donkey Kong in the dust. But how can you make a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe purchase without spending over the odds? And, if you don't have a Switch, how can you get hold of its finest racing title and the console itself for the cheapest price?
The best way to find a Mario Kart bargain is to shop at the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe hotukdeals listings. We feature the latest deals from major UK merchants like Asda, Tesco, Argos, Amazon, Very, ShopTo, CeX, and, of course, the Nintendo store.
If you don't own a Switch, make sure you check for bundles featuring Mario Kart. But before you buy, compare their prices with the cost of a basic Switch console, or a Zelda or Smash Bros box. You may find that buying separately saves cash, especially if you find an unbeatable deal for the Mario Kart download.
And remember, you'll probably want to order a subscription to Nintendo Online, which opens up online multiplayer play. The best way to do this is by partnering a Mario Kart purchase and a 3 month or 1-year subscription. However, again there may be standalone deals from time to time which make it more cost effective to segment your purchases.
Finally, look out for seasonal deals. Black Friday and Cyber Monday in November are great times to shop for Nintendo products, as are the January Sales, and Amazon Prime in mid-summer should deliver savings as well. In any case, keep your eye on the hotukdeals listings, and you're sure to find a great Mario Kart deal.
Make a Bid For Karting Glory with the Best Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Deals from hotukdeals
Adding more tracks, character options, weapons, and game modes than ever before, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ultimate karting experience. Race or battle your way through Hyrule, the Rainbow Road, and plenty of other iconic environments, and smash your friends in one-on-one races. Either way, the finest racing title on the Switch can be purchased for less at the hotukdeals Mario Kart 8 Deluxe listings.