Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s Battle Mode is a Game Changer

One of the Nintendo Switch games that has caught quite a lot of attention is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an expansion of Mario Kart 8 released for the Wii U back in 2014. This version includes the DLC from the Wii U version, plus new playable characters Inkling Girl and Inkling Boy from Splatoon, Dry Bones, King Boo, Bowser Jr. and an all new and improved Battle Mode. New Karts based on these new characters are also included. My extent of playing the Wii U version was a demo at a GameStop and one night at a friend’s house, so this game in general is new for those like myself who didn’t own the original release.

As far as the racing goes, there’s nothing new to be found other than the inclusion of a new item which is the Boo that allows the player to steal an item from another player or CPU and makes the user invisible for a period of time. There were new tracks revealed, but the racing itself has the same thrill and intensity fans are familiar with. The true height of this experience is the new battle mode. I haven’t owned a Mario Kart game since the SNES, so the redesign of this mode filled me with memories of playing Super Mario Kart with my older brother back in the ’90s.

Battle Mode is now on separate tracks tailored for battle unlike the Wii U version which had the battles take place on the racing tracks. New tracks designed for battles in mind makes all the difference. The chaotic fun of battling with friends and the CPU in close proximity without dealing with the frustrations of navigating a race track is a blessing. The new Splatoon battle arena, Urchin Underpass, is a perfect fit given the nature of Splatoon. Aesthetically, the design of the Splatoon track is fitting. It retains the art style from the shooter and has splashes of ink sprinkled around the arena which slows your movement making the player conscious of his or her surroundings.

The Bomb-omb Blast mode restricts players to Bomb-Ombs only and winners are determined by who obtains the most points in a given time period as seen in the treehouse three minutes, but in the final product it’s likely it can be changed to the player’s taste. One might say this particular mode is more balanced since everyone is using the same items, but it isn’t as enjoyable to watch. The sight of constant explosions is entertaining, but the chaos and variety that comes with the standard Balloon Battle cannot be touched. During the treehouse we saw Battle Stadium as the arena for this battle mode. It looks basically like a compacted Mario Circuit. This is likely the standard battle arena as there no hazards or gimmicks throughout it. It looks to be bigger than the Urchin Underpass, but a little smaller than the Luigi’s Mansion track which followed afterwards. Speaking of the Luigi’s Mansion arena, the music is beautiful. Dropping bombs on foes while the spooky tunes of Luigi’s Mansion chimes in the background is sure to be a thrilling experience.

Structurally, this arena straightforward. The map is square with three levels to navigate. There’s a hole on the top floor that leads to the second providing a quick way to get to an opponent or to escape a pursuing one. Its shape is more in tune with my playstyle and coupled with my music makes it my favorite of the ones shown. There was also Battle Circuit 1 which hails from Super Mario Kart, which is the most basic of the stages. It’s a flat square plane with a couple ramps and short walls, but it still looks to provide an entertaining experience.

The appeal of Mario Kart 8 seems to reside in the new battle mode as there was nothing new shown related to racing, but for those who didn’t purchase much of the DLC or never bought the original, it seems to be the perfect opportunity to get into the game. I can’t say how much of a pull this is for veterans of the game since you will essentially just be paying $60 for the battle mode and it all resides on how much you wanted that, but for everyone else this game looks like a no-brainer purchase. April 28 can’t come soon enough.