It’s a universal fact that Mario Kart is one of the most fun games out there. No matter what console or generation, it’s always been something you can pick up and play. When the Nintendo Switch was first even mentioned I was sure that we would get a new Mario Kart game. While I was a little disappointed that the Switch game would be a port of the WiiU version, I was still happy to welcome the slightly better visuals and overall performance of the console. I’ve owned the game since release so I’ve had a long time with the game.
I can skip any sort of story discussion as this is Mario Kart for crying out loud! Single player has the usual league based gameplay where you take on 4 courses to try win a trophy. On the Switch the environments are very pretty to say the least. Colours bounce across the screen with such vibrancy it forces you to feel the fun. There is a great variety of tracks both old and new brought into this beautiful game. You’ll see classics like Cheep Cheep Beach, Toads Turnpike and of course Rainbow Road. As this game is created with other Nintendo IP’s in mind you’ll even get an Animal Crossing and Zelda map along with all the relevant characters to race as. There’s also a 200CC mode which adds some well needed difficulty spike as I have always been a 150 master!
The typical Mario Kart formula is changed up again, with these sort of anti-gravity sections where the wheels transform and allow you to drive on the roof. Also continuing from past iterations is boost on a ramp and air-gliding sections over the map. To accommodate for these, some of the old maps have been re-imagined to add in functionality. I’ve always appreciated that this game has assist tools to help younger or less experienced players. Most of the fun comes out the 48 courses you have to take on either on your own or with friends. While it is also a ton of fun to go online, nothing beats having some friends round to prove who can beat rainbow road. The item balance also works in favours of all the players, as I’ve never felt that someone got an item that was unfair to the position they were currently in.
While the game was on the WiiU I couldn’t help but think things had a certain blur to them, I wasn’t satisfied visually. On the Switch however, the game looks and performs beautifully on docked & handheld mode. Making toilet breaks a lot prettier than they usually are. The game runs at 60fps, however playing locally with 3 or 4 will cut that in half. I however don’t see this as an issue when the racing is just made so well. It’s smooth and fast making this game the best kart racing game from Nintendo in my eyes.
It’s not all just a solid copy of the WiiU however, as the Switch version revamps battle mode. This is where you have multiple competitive based modes across a range of arena maps. There’s some really intense modes as well as some just for fun (I’m looking at you bomb blast). There’s even a cops & robbers type mode which is insane, especially online! It adds another layer to playing with friends over just racing a course together.
The online good for the purpose of the game, however Nintendo is still pretty bare when it comes to it’s service. You still have to use external means to communicate with any friends, and the in game chat is boiled down to pre-determined messages. I will give them the benefit though, there are some really cocky things to say that just make me laugh for saying them. One of them being “I’m using motion controls!” it just seems really out of place.
Nintendo have succeeded again at creating an addicting gameplay experience that is just a blast to do with friends. I’ve invited my brother around to just chill and play this game with and it always puts a smile on our faces. Thanks to this being on the Switch I’ve had a lot of opportunity to use the handheld mode (yes one of those places being the toilet). It’s just so exciting to play a HD game like Mario Kart on the train without any sacrifices made towards performance or visuals. Overall this game brings forward the existing formula onto a platform that’s begging for it. I’ve put a ton of use into it and there’s never really anything negative to say towards the actual game itself. It’s always just been the online that Nintendo struggles to improve.
This is why I’m giving Mario Kart 8 a 9/10