During PAX East this past weekend MonterVine had the chance to demo Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and check out what’s new as Nintendo brings the Wii U title to the Nintendo Switch, and how it plays.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, like each previous game in the series, is a combination of various racing modes for single and multiplayer, along with select battle modes, primarily featuring Mushroom Kingdom characters. For the Nintendo Switch version all the downloadable content that was offered on Wii U is built-in from the get-go, and also now supports LAN and WLAN play up to twelve players, meaning each player can have their own screen if so many Switches were to be in one place with a network.
Along with the DLC and LAN additions, the game now runs in 1080p, and adds in two characters from Splatoon, along with King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr., plus four totally-new battle arenas, and four battle arenas revamped from previous Mario Kart titles.
The new battle arenas compliment the new battle modes, now totalling five different modes: Balloon Battle, Bob-omb Blast, Renegade Roundup, Coin Runners, and Shine Thief. These new modes were the focus of Nintendo’s PAX East demonstration of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Of the modes, two that got the fellow members of the press and the MonsterVine team on hand really laughing and enjoying themselves were Coin Runners, and Shine Thief. Both are quite simple, taking place on battle maps. Coin Runners features appearing and disappearing coins for players to collect, along with the usual selection of battle item pick-ups to use against other players, causing them to drop their coins when hit. The current coin-leader is marked for players to target, and at the end of the timer the player with the most coins wins (which, for the record, was this writer by a magnitude of five).
Shine Thief presents one ‘shine’ for players to fight over. At first it is a mad-dash to be the first to pick up the shine, and from there whomever is able to hold on to the single shine for 20 seconds wins. However, as there is only one shine in the entire match, the player holding the shine is targeted by all fellow players, and whatever battle items they pick up and launch your way. With fairly matched players the PAX East demonstration of this particular mode, the match became a rave of a good time with countless last-moment turn-arounds and change ups. We came away surprised how much we enjoyed the Coin Runners and Shine Thief modes in particular.
Racing is as well crafted as it was in Mario Kart 8, and the other battle modes were enjoyable, however far less so than Coin Runners and Shine Thief turned out to be. Balloon Battle sets characters against each other to pop the most balloons off of each other’s karts; Bob-omb blast is similar to Balloon Battle but with only one item type–bob-ombs–which players can hold up to 10 of; and finally Renegade RoundUp, which pits players into a team of authority (cops) and renegades (robbers), with authority players locking up renegades, and renegades busting other renegades out of jail as they try to outlast the clock.
Other gameplay additions include a more advanced boost when cornering, and the ability to hold two item pick-ups instead of the usual one. For players who have mastered Mario Kart 8 and don’t often play battle modes, it really comes down to how much you want to replay the game in 1080p. For anyone looks for another reliable multiplayer Nintendo game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks to be joining the ranks of other replayable multiplayer games.