Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is now just one day away, and despite what you may have heard or seen regarding the game (spoiler: it’s all good things), there may still be Switch owners not completely sure if they want to take the full-priced plunge. Switch’s Mario Kart is a game that, while certainly “deluxe” as advertised, was already released on Wii U, and as such it may not be the right choice for every last Switch owner. Still, unless you bought every scrap of DLC on Wii U and don’t care about the new Battle mode, odds are Deluxe’s offering is going to be pretty tempting. Compiled Wii U content aside, there are new characters, items, and gameplay enhancements to be had.
The volume of content in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is about as dizzying as a race at 200cc, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Below we’ve detailed the game’s changes, both minor and major, and organized them into categories for your purchase-analysis convenience. There’s also our formal review, which recaps the information below and reaches a final verdict. Notably, the review assumes the original Mario Kart 8 has been played – if you’ve not kart-raced since Mario Kart 7 or earlier, there’s little reason to pass this up.
Without further ado, here’s everything new in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
General and Gameplay Changes
You can now carry two items at once. It’s true – back from the dead (and from Double Dash!!, but with differences), item hoarding returns via a second item slot. This allows for strategic storage of draggable items for future protection, or simply lets you launch more firepower when trying to move up in the ranks. The Double Item Box is back as well, which instantly fills two-item capacity.
Smart Steering and Auto-accelerate. For the most part these are optional toggles for newcomers, but as most Mario Kart players know, you don’t have to be a newcomer to fall off of Rainbow Road. Smart Steering automatically keeps you on the straight and narrow while still allowing free movement, while Auto-accelerate eliminates the need to hold down the A button to go. As noted in our review, Joy-Cons are a bit more fatiguing than Wii U controllers, so you may be surprised to find yourself turning this on.
Kart and driver stats have been tweaked. Given that several new drivers have been introduced (and hindsight since 2014 has been acquired), both driver weight classes and kart-part statistics have been adjusted for Deluxe. Just like before, you can view stats by pressing the plus button during kart and character selection, and the changes shouldn’t throw off your groove in any substantial way. Still, it’s worth noting (full details here).
There’s a third stage of Mini-Turbo called Ultra Mini-Turbo. In other words, the boost you can achieve while drifting can now be taken a step further, and you’ll know you’ve achieved it when pink sparks start flying from your wheels. The new stage of turbo is so substantial that it’s only fair those using Smart Steering don’t have access to it.
The graphics have been given a facelift. The main change is the jump to native 1080p, but there's also a more consistent 60fps (Wii U's single frame drop bug has been dealt with), subtle improvements to shadows and texturing, and improved detail during multiplayer and online modes to better match the single-player experience.
Every base and DLC character from the original Mario Kart 8 returns with Deluxe, but there’s also an installment of new racers exclusive to the Switch version of the game. Those new racers are:
- King Boo
- Dry Bones
- Bowser Jr.
- Inkling Girl
- Inkling Boy
- Gold Mario
Each new character is available from the start of the game, with the exception of Gold Mario who is unlockable. There are also kart parts that correspond with these characters, such as the Splat Buggy and Inkstriker ATV-style karts derived from Splatoon. There’s also Bowser Jr.’s Koopa Clown, seen previously in Mario Kart 7, Super Smash Bros., and pretty much any time Bowser Jr. appears.
Item additions to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe aren’t drastic, but the game does bring back a couple of favorites, one of which is specifically usable in Battle Mode.
Feather allows your kart to leap over obstacles and barriers, or to swipe balloons from opponents with proper timing.
Boo immediately steals the nearest player’s item, and swaps it for your current item.
And finally, the main event: Battle Mode. The style of battle in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe mimics that of renditions prior to Mario Kart 8, with arena-style maps instead of full circuits and hectic balloon-based gameplay. There are also brand new battle sub-modes, as well as several brought back from previous Mario Kart games.
Battle is covered extensively in our review of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but is recapped below.
Balloon Battle: Players compete to pop each other’s balloons, and victory is determined via a points system (as opposed to “last man standing” from the pre-Wii titles).
Renegade Roundup: A timed “cops and robbers” mode where Authorities pursue Renegades using massive Piranha Plants. The objective of the Authorities is to put all of the Renegades in jail, while the Renegades’ aim is to remain uncaptured. Renegades can also free each other from jail.
Bob-omb Blast: This mode is essentially Balloon Battle with Bob-ombs, up to ten of them to be exact. This mode previously appeared in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Coin Runners: Players collect coins strewn across the chosen course, and the player with the most coins when time expires wins. Unlike some previous renditions of Coin Runners, there’s no soft cap on how many coins can be collected.
Shine Thief: Also from Double Dash!!, this mode is all about chasing and capturing a single Shine Sprite, and holding onto it until time expires. Other players attack the Shine-holder to acquire the Sprite themselves, and attempt to do the same.
Cups and Courses
There are five new Battle courses, as well as three retro courses returning from previous Mario Kart games. The new and returning Battle courses are listed below. Regarding Grand Prix, all 48 courses (across 12 cups) from the original Mario Kart 8 (including all DLC courses) are available immediately in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
New Battle courses
- Urchin Underpass (from Splatoon)
- Battle Stadium
- Sweet Sweet Kingdom
- Dragon Palace
- Lunar Colony
Returning Battle courses
- Battle Course 1 (SNES)
- Luigi’s Mansion (GCN)
- Wuhu Town (3DS)