Games: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is perfectly brilliant and a revelation on the move

This bells and whistles do-over is the perfect stop-gap until Mario Odyssey this Christmas
Neil McGreevy

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)

By: Nintendo

THE Switch is undoubtedly a triumph of hardware design, but then so are all of Nintendo's consoles. The difference this time is that people are actually buying the thing, meaning a lot of hungry mouths needing sated post-Zelda.

Breaking the tradition of a fresh Mario Kart for every new console, Nintendo have decided to just rerelease a perfectly brilliant one that nobody played in the first place with a suped-up port of Mario Kart 8.

Released three years ago on the beleaguered Wii U, it's a fair bet that most Switch owners have never experienced the racer's finest hour, making this bells and whistles do-over the perfect stop-gap until Mario Odyssey this Christmas.

If you've ever played a Mario Kart you'll know the drill as Italian sinksmiths, oafish gorillas and anthropomorphic mushrooms fight for glory in tiny jalopies. A fiercely competitive racer that mixes breakneck arcade racing with cutesy-pie characters and retina-searing courses, MK8's cutthroat chicanery has players chucking bombs and banana skins at rivals while blasting through kaleidoscopic circuits, only to get screwed over by random chance inches from the line.

It's multiplayer that lends Mario Kart such notoriety and eighth time around embraces both local and online competition, all wrapped up in insanely high production values and fully orchestrated remixes of your wasted 90s.

So what's “deluxe”? The original was no slouch in the visuals department, but it now runs in glorious 1080p and adds lashings of shiny stuff, most of it unlocked from the get-go. All of the Wii U's DLC is here, including 16 extra tracks, six characters, mirror mode and the breakneck 200cc racing class. There are also some Switch exclusive treats, with Splatoon's Inkling kids, Dry Bones, King Boo and Bowser Jr joining the fray along with new courses, Battle Stadium and Urchin Underpass.

It all adds up to a whopping 42 characters and 48 tracks of unbridled joy. Best of all is the return of classic battle mode, which cocks a snook at traditional tracks in favour of the arenas of old, where players can face off across eight oily citadels. All grist to the mill for fans, though Deluxe's only subtle gameplay tweak is truly game-changing – the ability to hold a second attack item in reserve, which means leaders are no longer resigned to fending off attacks with a banana.

For Switch owners who've finished journeying through Hyrule, next stop The Mushroom Kingdom. They say you can't take it with you. But now you can – and on the move, Mario Kart 8 is a revelation.

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: