A La Kart
It’s early days for the Switch and its developing games library, but Nintendo are really taking the ‘quality over quantity’ idea very seriously. Launching with Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a game that got more tens than a specialist dress shop that only sells size 10s taking an extra delivery, now we have a polished version of the newest instalment of the game responsible for broken controllers, broken friendships and, perhaps worst of all, Crash Team Racing.
Game: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Reviewed on: Switch
Many are keen to point out that this is a re-release of a Wii U title, and therefore not a ‘new’ game. “Ah yes, I already passed opinion on this three years ago” they mumble into their beards, like tossers from the NME letters section who want everyone to know they saw your new favourite band in a backstreet pub ages ago when they had an extra guitarist and a politically insensitive name. Well here’s the problem; no one bought a Wii U. I mean hardcore Nintendo fans did, but they’d buy anything if you stuck Zelda on it. No one *else* bought one; it never hit that crossover appeal of the PS4 to bring in the casuals and wider audiences.
So to many Switch owners, me included, this is basically a new game. It also includes all of the DLC from the Wii U version, including tracks and characters. There’s been some discussion about whether this should be a valid entry for Game of the Year for 2017 at NGB; because while it may have been released before, it is pretty wonderful.
The thing about Mario Kart is… we should be bored of it. There are points when playing MK8D that you could have told me I was in fact on the 3DS’ previous instalment, imaginatively titled Mario Kart 7, and I couldn’t have argued. By the game’s admission, many of the courses are remastered from previous games and, with the exception of King Boo, the characters have all appeared before in…. y’know, the non-deluxe version. It’s sort of a greatest hits, as they often are in a series that has made all it’s major leaps and bounds but keeps on keeping on, doing what it does and doing it rather well.
There’s a serious array of stuff to try out, here. No longer limited to merely just karts, you can also choose from motorbikes, quads or a lovely car with prancing horses on the front that move when you drive it. Surely in a category of its own. There’s also forty characters (although to be fair about 10 of those are variants of Mario himself). The greatest thing for me as a result of this huge roster was the revelation that one of Bowser’s henchmen is called Roy. Obviously you can also build a Mii to race as, and adding Amiibos to the console gives you various new outfits for your top-heavy creations.
Visually and aurally, it’s exactly as you’d expect by this point of the review. It looks like you’d imagine Mario Kart would look on a current gen console, but incredibly considering how fast the game is by nature, there’s none of the frame-rate issues associated with that other titan of the console, Zelda. Admittedly, those issues on the latter were largely sorted by way of a downloadable patch following launch, but even so it’s impressive how well a game like this runs on a handheld.
But on Switch, Mario Kart has found its home. Everyone has played Mario Kart; it’s designed to be a game that someone with no knowledge of gaming can have a stab at and do alright, something which causes controversy with people who are missing the point entirely. This is not Forza, it’s a racing game anyone can pick up and play. It’s therefore harder to imagine a more perfect console for it than the Switch; portable and with two controllers as standard, this is the game that will convert that console from ‘the Zelda machine’ to the thing you take to your friend’s house every time without hassle or second thought. Indeed, for many non-gamers the simplicity of the Joy Cons will seem less intimidating than a standard PS4 or XBox pad; small and with only one analogue stick, devoid of the touch-pad and share buttons that can seem overwhelming if you’re not used to those consoles.
Not a new game and not an original game, but a delightful one nonetheless. The perfect multiplayer demonstration of Nintendo’s saving grace, it’s rare that a game qualifies as an essential purchase for a console quite as much as this.