Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best showcase of the Switch’s potential

Mario Kart Deluxe is the best examples of the Switch’s potential.

The Nintendo Switch has been enjoying some serious attention and demand since its March 3rd launch. Selling “2.74 million units” within less than two months on the markets, the console handheld hybrid device has been successful so far (Peckham, Time.com). The demand for the machine has been high, the device seems to rarely be in stock anywhere and when the Switch is available, units are snapped up faster than you can almost refresh your internet browser. Right now, the Nintendo Switch is the hot new device on the market, but there isn’t a huge number of games to play on it. Currently, there are two notable Nintendo created titles that have been extremely successful for the Switch: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, a dual launch for the dying Wii-U and brand new Switch, was released to overwhelming critical praise and has sold an impressive total “3.84 million units” with 2.76 million units sold for the Switch. This is an impressive attach-rate for a launch game and the game has been a massive draw, especially considering the tiny launch library.

Another success story for the Nintendo Switch was the recently released Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Launched two weeks ago, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an upgraded port of the Wii-U’s Mario Kart 8. Shipped with a new and improved battle mode, as well as some visual and gameplay improvements, the game has been a huge success. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sold 495,000 copies in its first day on the market. This is an impressive number for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which has had an equally impressive critical reception. In this article, I will illustrate several reasons why I believe Mario Kart 8 Deluxe shows off so many of the Nintendo Switch’s strengths and showcases many of Nintendo’s best ideas.

For the Record: I bought my Switch on launch day and own a variety of titles including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Multiplayer Madness

The Switch has a built in potential for multiplayer experiences,

Nintendo took a calculated risk when designing the Switch and its Joy Con controllers. In creating the Joy Cons, Nintendo packaged two, abeit small, controllers with their new device. This makes the Nintendo Switch one of the only consoles in recent memory to be packaged with two controllers. While the joy cons may not be as comfortable as the well respected Dual Shock 4 or Xbox One controller, the joy cons are functional and effective as controllers for many multiplayer games, especially for kids and adults with smaller hands. The decision to package the Switch with two controllers sets up an immediate expectation for multiplayer gaming. This choice has been an intentional gamble by Nintendo, especially when you examine the Switch’s marketing campaign, where there are shots of people playing the device together in almost every Switch ad.

While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was a once in a generation event in the gaming community and one of the best launch titles in recent history, it was a deep single player game, one which did not take advantage of the Switch’s potential for multiplayer experiences. There were several multiplayer games available at launch including 1,2 Switch!, Snipperclips, and Bomberman R, but none of these games can compete with Mario Kart’s massive draw. In an article for Verge.com Chaim Gartenberg asserted that the ability to “pop off two controllers and use the tablet as a shared screen. There’s no need to find a TV or buy an extra controller. The multiplayer experience is practically frictionless” (Gartenberg, Verge.com). The brilliance of buying a Switch in a post Mario Kart 8 Deluxe world is that it would take you less than 10 minutes to go from setting up your switch to playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with a partner.

Pick up and Play Fun

“The Switch’s interface makes its easy to jump in and out of matches of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

The Switch’s UI was an immense upgrade over the sluggish Wii-U’s interface. One of the most brilliant design choices was the speed of moving in and out of the software. With the Switch, you can instantly press the home button to move out of your software. Your game will remain loaded and waiting for you while you play around in the home menu or put the device in sleep mode. At any time, you can wake your device up and get back to your game. It’s that easy. This was an awesome feature for games like Zelda, where you could pause in the middle of a shrine, dungeon, or long quest, but it’s even more helpful in a game like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which is aimed at a wider audience. Giving you the ability to pause and return to a game at almost any time is a elegant and insightful feature of the Switch, one of its most underrated features. In comparing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Forbes’ Dave Thier asserted that the “ability to play single-player games with a handheld device isn’t new, but the ability to play a local multiplayer game on the scale of Mario Kart on a mobile device is” (Thier, Forbes.com).

While Snipperclips was the best multiplayer game at launch (350,000 downloads on the Nintendo Eshop is no small feat for small scale game), it never had the clout that Mario Kart has. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe encourages you to take out your Switch and play with friends. It’s no mistake that so many of the Switch’s commercial includes groups of people playing games together. It’s a core part of the experience that Nintendo has been pushing its first reveal in October. The Switch has the ability market itself “by getting out there in the wild and demanding attention, and Mario Kart may be one of the best games possible for doing that” (Thier, Forbes.com).

Beautiful Visuals

Mario Kart 8 Runs is visually stunning, whether running on the TV or on the small Switch screen.

I will reiterate: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my favorite Switch game and one of my favorite games of all time. But if Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is any indication of what a Nintendo developed Switch game will look like, then Breath of the Wild will probably end up visually being on the middle to low end of what Switch games to look at, which sometimes happens with launch titles. While The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is no slouch, its art style is one of the most effective and gorgeous in any modern game, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looks amazing, regardless of whether its 1080p on the T.V. or on the 720P Switch screen. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it looks strikingly beautiful on the Switch screen, with crisp visuals and amazing detail. It is amazing to compare the game to Mario Kart 7 for the 3Ds, which illustrates just how much of a leap the Switch is for handheld gaming.

Nintendo still has several tests coming up, including the launch of Splatoon 2, Arms, and a “make or break” appearance at E3 in June, but Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has had a huge positive impact on Nintendo and is one of the stand out title for the Nintendo Switch. If you own a Nintendo Switch, you need to own Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Work Cited

Gartenberg, Chaim. “Mario Kart is the first game to make good on the Switch’s biggest selling point.” The Verge. The Verge, 03 May 2017. Web. 12 May 2017.

Peckham, Matt. “Nintendo Switch Sales Above Expectations.” Time. Time, n.d. Web. 03 May 2017.

Thier, Dave. “Why ‘Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’ Is Even More Important For The Nintendo Switch Than ‘Zelda'” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 Apr. 2017. Web. 12 May 2017.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Hi, I am an English major, Education minor studying at Cleveland State University. In my free time, I love to watch movies, read comics and books, and listen to music.
Edited by Karen.

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34 Comments

  1. Blevins
    0

    I have fond memories of playing Mario Kart on Game Boy Advance. Just good old fashioned racing with fun power-ups (although there is the inevitable spiny shell that hits you whenever you get to first place).

  2. Parson
    0

    I’ve never gotten where the fun is supposed to be in this series or how the latest is supposed to be the “best” when the gameplay is virtually the same from one to the next – race around the track in a cart, pick up bonuses, use the bonuses, rinse, repeat ad nauseum.

  3. Homer
    0

    This and Zelda are on my list for my kids birthday in August, we skipped the Wii U but the Switch just seems a bit too much fun to pass over. 🙂

  4. bea
    0

    I have never previously bought a console at launch but for the switch I took the plunge (I spend a lot of time commuting so the portability was very tempting, since when I get home I’m far more interested in spending time with my partner, going for a run, having dinner, that sort of thing…).

    So far I am very happy with Zelda and snipperclips for local co-op, but I have not yet played any online multiplayer – primarily because the only options are fast RMX (interesting but not that bothered) and Bomberman (interested but not at the astonishing price! maybe if it comes down to £20-£25). Mario Kart and Splatoon 2 are a big deal for me because a few of my friends have also bought the console, so being able to play online with the ones further away and local multiplayer against those that live closer is really appealing. I didn’t buy a Wii U so although this is a remaster of the older version it is still new to me, and I enjoyed Mario Kart on the Wii, gamecube, N64 and SNES…

  5. Munjeera

    Wii was a disappointment.

  6. AGMacdonald

    My favourite feature of the Switch for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ability to play two player with a single controller. Genius! (especially considering how expensive the controllers actually are).

    • Sean Gadus

      The ability to have multi-player built into the switch without need to buy extra controllers is a key feature of the Switch and i believe it is a key selling point for families looking to buy the Switch.

  7. AGMacdonald

    My favourite feature of the Switch for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the ability to play two player with a single controller. Genius! (especially considering how expensive the controllers actually are).

  8. Joi Amato
    0

    I haven’t played Nintendo games in a long time, but one of my best video game stories was playing the original Mario Kart with some friends. We were playing battle mode, and Friend A and Friend B were both down to one balloon, and Friend A had thrown a banana peel onto the ground. He then told Friend B, “Go get that yellow thing, it’s very helpful.” I’m thinking that he can’t possibly be serious, and that even if he were, there’s no way Friend B would ever fall for it, so I just sit there and don’t say anything. And then what does Friend B do but drive right over the banana peel and sit there in shock as the “you lose”/”game over” screen pops up, while the rest of us bust up laughing.

  9. William
    0

    Great game!

    I wonder if they will bring Hyrule Warriors to Switch. Another awesome Wii U game.

  10. Byrne
    0

    Not played Nintendo since SNES days, so whilst everyone raves about the new Zelda and Mario Kart, they’ll never beat Link to the Past and original Mario Kart for me! 🙂

    • john k
      0

      I promise – the people raving about the new Zelda really aren’t wrong.

      I had a SNES, and I’ve been playing games since then. I had Mario Kart and A Link To The Past too…my favourite games all date from the mid-to-late nineties, probably in part because of nostalgia. I think I long ago stopped expecting games to blow me away anymore. I definitely wasn’t expecting that much from the latest Zelda as I haven’t enjoyed any of the Zeldas released since the N64 days.

      Anyway, I got Zelda: Breath Of The Wild for my Wii-U (I’m not getting a Switch until Mario Odyssey arrives) and I haven’t played anything else since. It is absolutely, singularly brilliant. It takes everything every open-world game has tried to do over the last decade and a half and effortlessly improves on them all, while retaining that indefinable Nintendo ‘feel’. It’s the most fascinating, tactile, mysterious game world I’ve ever seen, it’s ridiculously big and it’s pocked with personality and idiosyncrasy. There isn’t a hint of check-list game design, the kind that sticks identical collectibles and mission types around a game’s map in order that it can have some impressive figures for the back of the box. I’m slowly coming to realise that it’s probably the best game I’ve ever played. If you can play one game from the last twenty years I would say you should play Breath Of The Wild.

  11. Ray
    0

    Thank goodness. Was starting to regret investing in a switch as there is only one game currently worth playing (VC is still destitute of anything good).

    Just need a new 3D metroid and mario and I won’t feel like such a numpty.

  12. Erwin
    0

    Awesome. Now to convince a mate buy a Switch…

  13. Kander
    0

    If you skipped the WiiU (like I did) the Switch is warming up nicely… they should port everything over to it…. though will wait to see the thirds party support before committing fully, if the likes of the sh*t hot Japanese games the ps4 has been getting recently (Nier and Persona especially) were on it it’d be a no brainer. Needs a price drop too like.

  14. vor
    0

    Totally agree on everything in this article… loved loved loved it on wiiu, day 1 on the switch now there is a proper battle mode, one of the best local mutiplayer games ever!

  15. Picard
    0

    Mario Cart on the SNES was the pinnacle. Battle mode, course 4. Me and my flatmate, at the time, could be playing one game of that for hours. It was like a game of chess, just waiting for someone to make a mistake.

    We’ve both already made plans to buy the mini SNES that’s been rumoured and start up the old rivalry again.

    • Gene
      0

      That was a great game. I never could win the toughest tournament at the highest difficulty level – it had a final course that was made entirely of thin roads suspended in the air with all kinds of crazy stuff happening to knock you off, and falling off the course just once or twice was usually enough to leave you insurmountably behind.

      Battle mode with friends was usually a lot of fun. In addition to the banana peel story I shared above, I remember pulling some tough tricks with red turtle shells – if you timed it just right, you could get a red shell to follow somebody around a corner or even do a U-turn and hit somebody behind you. I think one time a red shell followed somebody for almost an entire lap – it was zig-zagging right behind the guy the whole time. I can’t remember if it eventually hit him or not.

    • Alpha
      0

      I’m really looking forward to the SNES mini. The SNES and MEGA DRIVE were my childhood, i just hope Nintendo make enough this time after the NES mini.

  16. Estefano
    0

    Mario Kart is an imitation of a racing game for people who actually don’t like racing games. It’s also the same every time and this is already the eight iteration.

    In every other field, whether it’s books or movies or music, critics tend to reward things that are challenging, creative and that have some artistic depth/complexity. But many video game “critics” don’t seem to understand that.

    The one recent racing game that would’ve deserved the accolades would be Assetto Corsa with its advanced car handling and physics simulation and uncompromising level of challenge.

  17. Buckingham
    0

    I’m still on the fence with the Switch. It sounds like a riot with friends (Mario kart was always more fun with fellow players) but not all that enticing to those of us without many friends (let alone those who still like games) and play mainly solo.

    Might stick to the Vita on the tube for now, at least until the Switches library is a bit bigger.

    • Chand
      0

      Zelda really is that good. Writing as someone who bought it expecting very little. If ever there was a game worth buying a console for BOTW really is it.

  18. lazy
    0

    The series has got worse which each new game, the SNES and N64 versions were fantastic and the Gamecube one average. The rest are garbage.

    • Bed
      0

      I still love MK64, but Double Dash is exceptionally tight and much more playable now than its predecessor. It benefits from having the best controller they’ve ever designed, obviously…

  19. Etsuko
    0

    I have never been a fan of mario kart… I just never got the appeal. After a few games it just got a bit tedious….

  20. Spellman
    0

    MarioKart 64 will probably always be my most played game ever just for all the 2player races after college. Although it was very under played on my part I really loved Double Dash on the GameCube and was a clear evolution and the last MaroKart I played was 7 on 3DS which is a fantastic little game with lots of innovations and a real joy after the not so great Wii version of MK. Getting very tempted to buy a Switch now have to admit!

    • Pilar
      0

      Always felt battlemode lost some of its purity in the 3D incarnations.

      And get one – obviously with Zelda – it’s incredible.

    • Pilar
      0

      Nah, Mariokart on the Snes was way better than on the 64. The 64 version was a big disappointment.

  21. robertgillings
    0

    I miss the original Mario Kart – the new stuff is good though

  22. Mario Kart is the series that shows a perfect example of simplistic evolution. The core game play has remained the same, you drive karts around a track and pick up power ups, yet with each iterations they add a new mechanic or level and update the art and software to match the new generation.

    If you were to look at the first game compared to the latest game, you would think they weren’t in anyway the same series except for perhaps the characters or maps. Yet from one game to the next, you can see much of the similarities save for a fresh new idea here and there.

  23. Love Nintendo!

  24. Totally agree with you on this!

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