Sunday, 16 July 2017

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Yes, I own a Switch now

And unlike last time, I'm reviewing this as someone who owns the game and the system.

Ports, many people hate them, many see them as a waste of development time. Me? Well it depends on the state of the port but overall, my stance on the matter is "They're done by backup teams with a small time frame, meant to help fill out a library. I would rather have ports of good games then shovel ware". After having this for close to two weeks, and playing with my fellow volunteers at the Tech Games Fest this year, I think it'll be good to tackle this, and give it an update seeing as when I last reviewed Mario Kart 8, I didn't experience most of the DLC. Also, your eyes don't decieve you, this is a review of a Mario Game on its own, though technically Mario Kart Wii got their first... also reviewed around the same time... should I just do Mario Karts around this time and make it a trend?

Like with every single Mario Kart, nay, almost (if not) every racing game ever, the goal of the game is to come first in the races. Spread across 12 cups of four tracks each, allowing you to to race on race tracks, dirt bike tracks, through castles, a sick rave party, down a snowboarding course, and more. Fundamentally, this is the same game as the WiiU version, the only big differences I've personally seen mechanically is that the NPC's feel easier then they did in the WiiU version, and the inclusion of a third level of drift boost which is akin to using a Mushroom. Though the NPC's thing could just be me getting use to fan made tracks, making the professionally made tracks look easier by comparison (for better or worse). All the DLC from the WiiU version, every kart part, every character, every skin and every track, is back in this port along with a selection of new kart parts and characters. The Inklings (boy and girl), Bowser Jr, King Boo and Dry Bones are all added to the roster along with three alternate skins for the two inklings to represent all six inkling colours, and one for Metal Mario to turn him gold. While it would have been nice to add a few more characters in like Diddy Kong and Birdo, the new additions are welcome, and I find myself using the Orange Inkling girl the most. I admit I haven't been using most of the new kart parts, but my set up is different from what I used in the WiiU version at least.

The biggest new addition to the game is the return of Battle Mode, sporting 8 arenas and 5 modes. The modes themselves being Coin Runners (have the most coins by the end of the game), Shine Thief (hold onto the Shine Sprite for the longest), Balloon Battle (score points by hitting players, don't loose your balloons, have the most points), Bom-Omb Blast (Balloon Battle where all the items are bombs, also known as the Michael Bay mode), and Renegade Roundup (Mario Kart does Cops and Robbers), with the new arenas being Battle Stadium (visually based on Mario Kart Stadium), Sweet Sweet Kingdom (based on Sweet Sweet Canyon), Dragon Palace (based on Dragon Driftway), Lunar Colony (arguably based on MK8's Rainbow Road), Wuhu Town from Mario Kart 7, Luigi's Mansion from Double Dash, Battle Course 1 from Super Mario Kart and Urchin Underpass from Splatoon. The big issue with Battle mode is the same as the main issue from the racing mode, in that it would have been preferable to have a bit more customization. Things like "once you loose all your balloons, you're out of the game" as an example and a common request. Between the two modes as well, I would have liked to have seen a few more battle arenas and maybe 2 more cups, but that is coming from someone who owns the WiiU version with the DLC, so the additions feel smaller for me compared to someone who didn't get the WiiU version or got it but didn't get the DLC. Before you ask, I got it for about $30 cheaper with my Switch.

Another big feature of this is a few tweaks to make the game more appealing to new players. Auto Accelerate, and Auto Steering. While I've never used Auto Accelerate, I have used Auto Steering (by accident) and the issue I had with it is that my controls felt less responsive, like the kart wanted to go one way while I wanted to go another way. It should be helpful for people who struggle with the game, but for veteran players, its two features that won't get used. I'm fine with them being in the game though, as they are optional and can be turned off. In terms of controls, while I haven't used the pro controller with the game, I have used the many alternate versions of the Joy cons. In the Switch's handheld mode and table top mode with or without what I call the puppy dog grip, the controls feel great as its basically the same as using the Gamepad/ classic controller/ pro controller on the WiiU, meaning its safe to assume it'll be the same if you use the pro controller. As for the joy cons on their side... it does the job. They aren't the most uncomfortable things in the world to hold for my hands, but I can easily see them being very uncomfortable to hold for some people with bigger hands then me. I'll personally take holding the joycons vertically in some form over horizontally.

While I think they could have done a bit more to justify the "Deluxe" name, it is still a great port of a great game. Without a doubt a great game in the growing library of the Switch. Performance wise, the game works great locally, but myself and Marissa have been having online issues, some of it being the Switch, some of it being my router (I really need to look into fixing that. See you Wednesday for The Incredible Adventures of Wallace and Gromit (and A Matter of Loaf and Death)

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