PLOT Go karts, go.
RATED E for Everyone
DETAILS Nintendo Switch; $59.99
BOTTOM LINE A super, souped-up version of a Nintendo gem.
With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Nintendo Switch, the company has delivered the best version of one of its best recent games, as well as a curiously compelling argument for the Switch’s main hardware pitch.
The game is also a natural fit for the Switch, combining the portability of Mario Kart 8 with the impeccable design of MK8. A few old standby items such as the Feather return, and some more vehicles have been added to unlock with coins.
One returning feature, the ability to carry two items at a time, is the real game-changer. The standout addition is Battle Mode, which takes place in bespoke arenas, with fairways and crisscrossing paths that force confrontations. It includes a handful of returning arenas from past games, but five out of the eight are brand-new and well-designed. Battle brings back a wide variety of play modes, too. The classic Balloon Battle is still a frantic mess of shells and bananas, and Coin Runners is about as straightforward a goal as it gets. Shine Thief is all about playing keep-away, while Bob-omb Blast requires ugly, chaotic confrontations with explosions all around you. And in Renegade Roundup, players are split into teams — one group of cops with siren-equipped Piranha Plants permanently affixed to their karts, and the other, “renegades” who are trying to avoid them. When a renegade gets too close to a cop, they’re automatically chomped and placed in jail, a small caged section hovering above the map. But other renegades can free them by driving under the cage.
Mario Kart 8 was already one of the best games in the series. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is even better.