Mario Kart 8 Deluxe On Nintendo Switch | PAX East Preview

Nintendo /

We sat down with Nintendo at PAX East to demo multiplayer LAN Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. We finally are getting the Battle Mode we’ve always wanted!

Going into PAX East this year, I was expecting that the recent release of the Nintendo Switch would draw major crowds to the Nintendo booth. And wow, was I ever right. Every time I walked past the elaborate Nintendo booth (complete with a Mario-themed diner stage), it was swarmed with PAX attendees waiting to try out Nintendo’s upcoming Switch titles.

So I was a relieved to learn that my appointment with Nintendo was hidden away in a side room on the second floor of the convention center, away from the crowds of the expo hall. The setup was cozy and relaxing too: several couches set up in front of four (yes, four) Nintendo Switches, each with their own matching LCD televisions. A perfect set-up to demo multiplayer LAN Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (albeit probably not a realistic one for the average consumer).

Corey Olcsvary from Nintendo Treehouse got us settled in and gave us a nice overview of how both wireless and wired LAN multiplayer works on the Switch. Local WiFi enables up to eight total connections, while a wired ethernet connection currently supports up to twelve connections. This 12 player limitation is due to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe only supporting 12 total consecutive players; not a hardware limitation. And each player doesn’t need their own Switch either: during our demo, we had five people playing on four Switches, with two players playing split screen.

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Perhaps the most welcoming fact about LAN connectivity is that you can use any standard USB LAN adapter. And they just hook right into the Switch dock with ease. But on the other hand, accessing the wired LAN option in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was not all that straightforward. It required a less than ideal combination of buttons (L and R and pressing the left stick down). How you would figure that out on your own, I have no idea This shortcut wasn’t noticeably documented anywhere. As far as I know this mode switching is also particular to Mario Kart 8. How Splatoon 2 handles switching between these connectivity modes could very well be completely different.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Inkling Girl
Credit: Nintendo /

Corey went over all the new changes to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, most of which were previously shown at past Nintendo events. The revamped version includes all previous DLC and updates from the Wii U version at no additional cost. So all 32 race tracks and 42 characters are unlocked from the get-go. This includes five new Deluxe characters: King Boo, Bowser Jr., Dry Bones, and Inkling Boy and Girl. However, for those of you that love unlocking new items, you will still have to grind out all the different custom vehicle parts.

Our demo at PAX East focused on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s five new Battle Modes: Balloon Battle, Renegade Roundup, Bomb-omb Blast, Coin Running, and Shine Thief. One of my (and many others) primary complaints about Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U was the lack of a proper Battle Mode. And wow, did this demo really hammer that nail on the head. This was the most fun I’ve had playing Mario Kart in a while. I was happy to see Shine Thief back, one of my favorite modes from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! It quickly reminded me how enjoyable Battle Mode truly is.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Renegade Roundup
Credit: Nintendo /

We’ve seen all of these Battle Modes in past Mario Kart iterations, except for the new Renegade Roundup. This mode splits players into two teams: one half on the police team (complete with Piranha Plants topped with a siren) and one half on the renegades team. The goal is for the cops to round-up the renegades by hitting them, which puts them into “jails” on the map. Renegades can run over a key on the map, though, that breaks everyone out from the jail.

The game ends when all of the renegades have been rounded up, in which the law enforcement team wins, or the timer runs out, in which the robbers win. This mode was extremely fun and a nice addition to the Battle Mode roster. My only concern is that it seems like the robbers always have the advantage, but that might just require more experience with the game mode.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Lunar Colony
Credit: Nintendo /

All five of these different Battle Modes are played on eight specific maps: Lunar Colony, Sweet Sweet Kingdom, Urchin Underpass, Battle Stadium, Dragon Palace, Luigi’s Mansion (GCN), Wuhu Town (3DS), and Battle Course 1 (SNES). This is a much-welcomed change from the half fast Battle Mode that just reused the race tracks. Not to mention they look as gorgeous as ever in that sweet 1080p resolution! All of these new courses plus the regular race tracks give Deluxe the largest total track count of any Mario Kart game to date.

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Nintendo has thrown in a few other small additions to Deluxe that actually have a large impact on the game. The Boo invisibility item and Feather jumping item make a return, adding additional fun aspects to Battle mode. They’ve also thrown in two beginner friendly settings: “Smart Steering,” which makes driving on tracks like bowling with the rails up, and “Auto-accelerate” which does exactly what it sounds like. While for most players this isn’t exactly groundbreaking, it does continue Nintendo’s typical goal of catering to players with varying levels of gaming experience.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Dry Bones
Credit: Nintendo /

The question at hand, though, is whether or not this remastered version of the game will be worth picking up. The game looks absolutely stunning in 1080p, without a doubt. Mario Kart is one of my all-time favorite local multiplayer games, and the Switch provides several new configurations to play with all of your friends. While LAN play these days is nearly unheard of, the fact that Switch is also a mobile gaming platform actually makes this a potential multiplayer option.

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If you’ve never played the Wii U version, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is absolutely worth picking up. For previous owners, whether or not you should double dip on the game is hard to say. The Battle Mode is tremendously fun, especially if you have lots of buddies to play with. Whether or not it’s enough to justify paying $60 for a remastered game is hard to say, though. It’s difficult to give a truly definitive answer in the one hour demo we had at PAX East.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe releases on the Nintendo Switch on April 28th. Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Wheel attachments are coming out at the same time for those of you that actually use tilt controls.