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5 big changes that make Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a must-play update

The Mario Kart series has long been a staple of Nintendo consoles, and the new Nintendo Switch is racing to fill the quota faster than usual with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which launches on April 28. As the name implies, this latest version of the kart racer draws most of its content from Mario Kart 8, but it also delivers plenty of extra surprises of its own. We’ve broken down five of the biggest additions and changes that make the Nintendo kart racer worth picking up on Switch, whether you’ve already played the original Wii U version or not.

1.  On the go or at home

Perhaps the biggest change coming with the enhanced port is the nature of how you’ll play the game. Thanks to the Switch’s ability to function as either a home console or a portable, players will be able to take Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with them on the go. The game supports up to eight friends on local multiplayer across a few different configurations. You’ll be able to hand a friend one Joy-Con controller to compete one-on-one on a single Switch console. Want a bigger race? Everyone can bring their own console and link them all together wirelessly.

Of course, if you can’t meet up in person, you can still take advantage of the Switch’s console configuration but placing it into the dock. Then you’ll be able play at full 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, and you can still compete against your friends in 12-person online multiplayer online modes.

2.  Battle ready

Perhaps the biggest change in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the complete overhaul to Battle Mode. The updated version marks a return to the series’ roots with the addition of Balloon Battle and Bob-Omb Blast modes. In the revamped Balloon Battle mode, your aim is to keep all of your balloons intact while popping your opponents’ balloons. Unlike past versions of this mode, when you lose all your balloons, you won’t be eliminated—but your score will be cut in half. The chaos is upped in Bob-Omb Blast, where all players must race around the map to collect bombs to hurl at your opponents.

3.  All-in-one

Though it’s an approach that has become more or less standard among ports and reissues of popular games, gamers will be happy to know that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe includes all the downloadable content ever released for the original Mario Kart 8. That’s a whopping 16 tracks and six playable characters players on Wii U had to shell out extra money for are part of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe by default.

What’s more, nearly all of the content in this version is unlocked right from the start. That means returning players won’t need to retread old ground to nab the same courses and characters they earned the last go around, and newcomers will see everything the game has to offer right off of the starting line.

4.  Challengers approaching

In addition to the previously released content, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe includes five new playable characters and three new vehicles. The roster of new faces includes King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr., all villains from the Super Mario Bros. games, as well as the Inkling Girl and Inkling Boy from Nintendo’s popular third-person shooter, Splatoon. The new characters span a variety of weight classes, adding even more diversity to the lineup. Plus, when pulling off tricks, the guest stars from Splatoon can even transform into their squid forms, just like they do in their own game.

5.  Mechanical tune-up

The new content may be the flashiest thing about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but Nintendo has also tweaked some of the underlying mechanics to add both depth and accessibility to the experience. Racers can now carry two of the game’s icon power-up items at once, rather than just one, offering more strategic options. Now you can keep a powerful item like the Blue Shell in your back pocket while still using other boosts and attacks to move up the pack. In fact, there are even a pair of new items on offer, each exclusive to one of the main modes. In race mode, the Boo lets you steal items from another player, while in battle mode the Feather allows you to jump.

Finally, a pair of features called Auto-accelerate and Smart Steering make the game easier for young players or novices to pick up and play. The first keeps the kart moving forward without any button presses, while the second prevents players from falling off track with precipitous drops. Think of it as the kart-racing equivalent of bumper bowling.


Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Release Date: 4.28.2017