Mario Kart 8 Deluxe ReviewPrice:
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is sublime.
If you've got a Switch, and the idea of a frenetic arcade racer starring a heap of Nintendo characters sounds appealing, then go and order the game right now. It's okay; I'll wait.
Okay, now you're back, let's talk about why you've made the right choice.
Reviewing re-releases is always interesting, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is one of these: a second chance for Mario Kart 8, which had the poor fortune of being released just as interest in Nintendo's underperforming Wii U had started to wane. Meanwhile, interest in the Nintendo Switch is at a high, and Nintendo has claimed it's its fastest-selling console ever, with 2.7m consoles shifted in the first month.
With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the game has a rare second chance to make a first impression, and my first impression is that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best kart racer I've ever played and an unlikely entry into the pantheon of arcade racers.
It's a beautiful game with everyone and everything polished to a high shine. The first races are joyous, although the character selection and vehicle customisation are complications that are initially hard to get to grips with and take a bit of time to settle. The first thing to learn is that pressing the + key allows you to see how your vehicle will be affected by each change, something that the game never explains itself.
This confusion applies to a lot of Mario Kart 8 when you start. There are scores of systems layered over each other impacting each second of your race. Every shell bounced down the course, every turbo boost, and every time your vehicle effortlessly changes to handle flying, anti-gravity, or underwater sections bring with them interesting complexities. Wonderfully, nearly all of these can be entirely ignored, and you can play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe without any knowledge, and it's still riotous fun. It just feels right, and from the very first race it's hard not to be charmed by the sheer vibrancy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: The bright colours, recognisable characters, and detailed tracks are all immediately impressive.
By the time familiarity has taken the shine off of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's wide selection of content — here bolstered with the addition of all of Mario Kart 8's DLC but also a Splatoon course and characters, too — most players will be fairly deep into the complex mechanics that underpin the game.
There are a wealth of tiny tricks, none of them essential for a victory but all exploitable for a small advantage, whether it's holding the accelerator ahead of race start for a boost, power sliding around corners, or even using another player's slipstream to slingshot past them, there's a lot to learn for those seeking extra depth. Excellently, though, none of these additional benefits and techniques will stop a novice with a red shell blasting you and taking your spot.