By Dan Moren
January 31, 2019 3:08 PM PT
Last updated July 16, 2020
We Like: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Note: This story has not been updated since 2020.
If there’s one video game franchise that’s kept me reliably coming back for more over a period of two decades, it’s Mario Kart.
Way back in high school (more years ago now than I care to admit) Mario Kart 64 was—as the kids were not yet saying—“my jam”. We gathered around my friend’s Nintendo 64 and played hours upon hours of the racing game, broken only by bouts of N64’s other greatest title, Goldeneye. Competition remained fierce even when my first couple years of college rolled around—I remember us hooking up someone’s console to the TV in our dorm floor’s lounge (once they’d replaced the old TV with the broken tube that couldn’t show yellow). Impromptu tournaments arose, and we all got pretty good at navigating even the toughest courses. (I’m looking at you, Rainbow Road.)
A few years out of college, I bought my first handheld console, the Nintendo DS, spurred on by the arrival of Mario Kart DS. (It remains one of only two games I ever bought for that device, the other being Tetris DS.) And, for several years, my cousins and I have had a tradition of playing Mario Kart Wii on Christmas morning.
So it’s little surprise that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was the title that tipped me over into buying a Nintendo Switch a little more than a year ago. And, to borrow a turn of phrase from Apple’s Tim Cook, it’s definitely the best Mario Kart that Nintendo has ever produced. I played only a little of Mario Kart 8, not having had access to a Wii U, but the additions of anti-gravity racing, a full roster of characters, and additional modes all combine to make it a truly outstanding title.
Though our Mario Kart habits dropped off a bit after Breath of the Wild came into the picture, we’ve been going through a bit of a Mario Kart renaissance in our household over the past few weeks. In addition to my fiancée and I going head to head and honing our skills, I’ve also tried my hand against strangers on the Internet (admittedly, not acquitting myself very well) and taken on my Rebound co-host Lex Friedman via online multiplayer (we’re planning on a grudge match with our other co-host, John Moltz, in the near future).
There’s a lot to love about Mario Kart, and it’s not just about nostalgia. The game has the perfect balance of competitiveness and hilarity, and even when you’re not racing very well, there are moments of joy sprinkled throughout. The designs and characters look great, and there’s nothing more satisfying than drifting around a curve as the purple sparks light up your wheels.
If I had one wish for the most recent version, it would be to resurrect the two-players-on-one-cart mode of the Game Cube version, Mario Kart: Double Dash; I miss the days of having a partner to work with, so one of us can concetrate on driving while the other lines up the perfect shot. I’d love to see it as an option in a future version of the series.
New updates to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe have been promised by Nintendo—and there’s supposedly a smartphone version coming later this year—and I’m hopeful that there are still some significant add-ons to come for what remains one of my favorite games of all time.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at @email@example.com or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]
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