Platform Played On: Switch
Release Date: April 28, 2017
Let me get this out of the way first: Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo 64 will always be 100 times better than any Mario Kart game ever, in my eyes. That’s my opinion and I’m stating it. It’s totally cool if you disagree. The Mario Kart series has more of an emphasis on needing multiplayer to be truly fun, which is a huge reason why I like Diddy Kong Racing’s single player story mode style a lot better (even if the story is hilariously nonsensical… giant space pig… LOLz). Plus David Wise music… sorry, Mario. That being said, I’ve still enjoyed the few Mario Kart games I’ve raced around in, including this one!
How Far I Got
I mostly played the game in handheld mode while visiting family on long weekends or when traveling for work-y. The great part of the Switch being portable, eh! It was also the first game I played on my fancy new TV so that part was cool too. My goals for completing this game changed quite a bit over the months, but I decided to just finish all the Grand Prix Cups on 100cc and called it a game after the credits rolled. I also enjoyed the few online matches I played with a couple blogger buddies: The Shameful Narcissist and Nerd Speaker.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe for the Switch is apparently a port of the original Wii U game that includes all the DLC and adds some new features. I never played the Wii U version of the game so this title was all new to me! But yeah, there’s no story or anything. You basically pick whatever character you want (from a TON of options including guest star Link from the Legend of Zelda series) and race around with them in various modes. Normally, I always pick badass Bowser whenever he’s an option in games, but the customizable Mii character option gave me a chance to play as Lightning Farron so… sorry, Bowser.
This iteration of Mario Kart has neat racing mechanics that I’ve never seen before in the series (the last Mario Kart game I played was on the Nintendo 64 so it’s been a while). For examples, in addition to character selection you also choose your vehicle body, tire type, and glider before racing. Collecting coins in the game unlocks more options for your vehicle. Every time you find yourself airborne during a race you can tap a button for a Jump Boost. Oh and while drifting you can unleash something called a Mini-Turbo. I never quite got the hang of that during my playtime so attempting one usually caused me to lose ground instead of gaining anything. I’m sure the pro Mario-Karters can pull these off for flawless victories!
All in all, the bulk of the single player part happens in 12 Grand Prix Cup races. Each cup is named after a cute Nintendo item and made up of 4 unique-to-that-cup racetracks. You need to come in 1st place a lot if you want to win big (typical of any racing game, no?). You can also adjust the difficulty by selecting the engine classes: 50cc (slowest with dumb AI), 100cc, 150cc, 200cc (fastest speed with the AI on “Blue Shell crazed cheater” mode). There’s also mirror mode where the tracks are reversed, individual track time trials, various battle modes (I played the one where you have to capture the star), and of course, the fun multiplayer madness. Like I mentioned, I wasn’t too keen on multiplayer but I know tons of people love it.
Each individual track is gorgeous and detailed perfectly, offering something interesting to see and cool shortcuts to discover. The graphics are pretty, the upbeat music is awesome to hear, the sound of Peach whining when I hit her with a perfectly lined up Green Shell is spectacular…. bwahahaha! Most of the time I wanted to just park on a track and admire the scenery instead of actually, you know, racing around. By far my favourite track is the Hyrule Circuit, a Legend of Zelda themed area that includes the Master Sword in the environment. Instead of the typical coins you collect during races, you collect Rupees in this one. Those little details really made it a wonderful representation of the Zelda universe.
And now my complaining! Okay. My biggest problem? The AI racers are dirty cheaters on anything above 100cc. There’s really more luck than skill involved in winning. Even the most experienced player can go from first to last in 2.6 seconds after getting pummeled by an unfortunate series of various coloured Koopa shells. Another thing I noticed is that the randomized items you collect from Item Boxes during the race aren’t really all that random. For example, the player in first a lot will always get Bananas, coins, and none of the other cool items (like the Lightning bolt that shrinks everyone else). I guess this is to give racers in the back a chance to catch up, but I felt that this really took away from the crazy randomized fun. What would happen if the 1st Place racer got the #1 hunting Blue Shell item? We’ll never know.
My Overall Biased Opinion
The Blue Shell can seriously go die in Bowser’s flame breath. Now that’s out of the way, I found single player mode got boring quickly but I did have fun while my attention span lasted. The AI just plain cheats making higher difficulties more frustrating than fun. I would LOVE to see a single player story mode get added to the Mario Kart franchise. Instead of just racing around Grand Prix cups for no reason, imagine racing bosses and traversing themed worlds to get to the tracks (a la Diddy Kong Racing… I know). Heck, a Nintendo Kart game would be really cool. Imagine a kart series that adds more characters from Zelda and even the Metroid series! Now I’m picturing Samus racing in morph ball form, so I’d say it’s time for me to wrap up this review…
Overall, huge fans of Nintendo who enjoy playing games with other people will have a blast for many hours with this kart racer. The solo experience just got old for me quickly. I have no friends and no desire to get good enough to play with random strangers online, who are much better than I’ll ever be. Rawr! I’m also not very competitive. Everyone’s a winner to me. Yay!
Distance driven: 354 km
Most played course: Water Park
Most played character: My Lightning Mii
Most played vehicle: Bandwagon
Most played tires: Cyber Slick
Most played glider: Bowser Kite
Super Mini-Turbos: 1
Ultra Mini-Turbos: 0
Jump Boosts: 925
Saved by Lakitu: 32 times
Tilt control use: 0% (Nintendo… please stop pushing the motion controls)
Smart steering use: 73%
No significant online stats to brag about.
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡
If for some odd reason you want to read more of my posts, you can find a somewhat organized (and usually up to date) archive of my ramblings… I mean, articles here!