Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best showcase 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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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