The best just got better
PlatformOVERALL
Nintendo Switch9.70
Overall 9.70
I don't give perfect scores, but this is one of the few games I would consider doing it for. Now it's not the greatest game ever or anything. But as a Mario Kart game it is comprehensively the best, most complete and one of the most polished games I have ever played full stop.

I owned the Wii U version and played it a lot including the DLC. So why was playing it on Switch initially such a revelation?

You're going to read a lot of waffling stuff below, but the main reason is synergy. It's a word not often used outside of grandiose fluffy tech reveals and usually it doesn't mean a lot. In the case of the Nintendo Switch console and Mario Kart 8 it does mean a lot. Breath of the Wild is a great game, and it plays great on Switch - but Mario Kart has features that Breath of the Wild does not.

Firstly, Switch is a social console, or it's supposed to be, the whole gimmick of it is that you have two joycons for local multiplayer. Mario Kart does that and when you try it and realise that you can actually do that and that it still looks awesome and still performs flawlessly at 60 FPS, it feels great. Using the joycon straps it also dawns on you that yes, they work and feel comfortable.  

BOTW does not have online play. Taking the Switch up to bed, waking up at 6 am and realising that you can turn the wi-fi on and connect to the router downstairs whilst lying in bed half awake to play online battle mode? That's golden.

It sparks a feeling in my head much like when I realised I could bring Switch to the kitchen to wait for something to boil. Switch can fill those little boring moments in your life with something much more satisfying. It's gaming without restrictions and when you have those lightbulb moments, it's eye opening and very satisfying.

BOTW doesn't use HD rumble - MK8 does as you will read below impressions on it - another feature it shows off.

Lastly BOTW is an okay looking game, sometimes beautiful but that under-utilises great lighting, leaving some shaders not looking as good as they could with flat lighting at times. That's more of an artistic choice, I guess a permanent sunset and moonlight would get monotonous over a 200hr game?

MK8 looks stunning on the switch screen and hence - it shows you just how good that screen is - vibrant, bright, searing colour. And as I said with my Switch part 2 review, your impressions of a system are formed around the software you play on it. So after Lego City I was a bit deflated and now MK8 shows me that the Switch concept unquestionably works.

And part of that is because of its flawless performance. On the tv it's 1080p 60FPS and compared the U version it looks more detailed and sharper. Playing on the tv isn't where that revelation occurs though - it's when you slip it out of the dock and see that on the switch screen, it looks just as good. Let me frame that by saying that the resolution drops to 720p like all Switch games do. But unlike BOTW where its dynamic resolution could sometimes result in a softer picture, MK8 still looks pin sharp and runs so smoothly it's ridiculous. And it's that constant performance that again, lights that bulb in your brain when you realise, there are no compromises here between docked and undocked.

It literally feels like gaming without limits. And it matches perfectly Nintendo's somewhat obvious marketing tag "anywhere, anytime with anyone".

There is also a smart steering mode where you can have children or non gamers set up with it and they can play without being frustrated or falling off the track.

So anyway bear in mind that I have now, tempered my feelings which were initially amazing. It's still a great game but it's the Mario Kart you know, obviously but with some new stuff.

The game has 56 tracks in this game open from the start

It has 8 new battle stages - the equivalent of adding two new GPs and they are all made with the same attention to detail as the normal race tracks.

The battle modes are all fun. One is collect as many coins as possible whilst attacking others to steal their coins. One neat trick is that you can see the stack of gold above other players heads so you know who is doing the best. Shine thief is where one player has to grab the shine star and keep it till the clock runs down. It evokes a child like grin and sense of fun when you see someone grab it and all players pile in on the sucker. And when you get it, it's almost like being 7 years old and playing tag in school.

There's balloon battle, fun as usual but then there is all bombs mode where you can hold multiple bombs and you're just attacking everyone.

So, what is about to happen is that I'm about to copy and paste various disjointed posts I have made about game in a lazy attempt at a review just to give you guys an idea of what the game is like.

So brief impressions of HD Rumble
First things first, you have use the joycons unattached from the tablet and do not use the grip. I presume this would be the same for the pro-controller, don't use that. You can still feel the HD rumble but to a far lesser degree.
So the two games I tried were the Blaster Master Zero demo, btw 8bit graphics but running as smooth as that wth? Usually I hate 8 bit visuals but in motion it actually didn't bother me. Now I want a Shovel Knight demo. Anyhow Blaster Master only seems to have one type of HD rumble for the explosions. It's hard to describe but it instantly makes me recall the Tumbleseed dev talking about instant response.
So it's rumble as you know it but far more responsive, it actually makes you realise there is this delay with normal rumble that is not there in this games implementation. When the rumble more accurately reflects what is on the screen and is paired with the right sounds it really is what it says: HD.
It's more intelligent and nuanced, faster too. It's like having depth to the effect rather than just the same effect of different durations. You cannot feel texture, it's literally about how the shake differs and rumbles in your hand.
So MK8 uses it well, I actually went into time trial mode to tool around with it. Firstly because the left and right joycons both have independent motors, when you crash into the left wall only the left joycon rumbles, and the same goes for the right. So immediately the effect of having separate controllers is that you get directional responses to what is happening on screen. Pretty cool.
Then there is the feeling of different road surfaces. It feels materially different when you go off road, bumpy almost. But my favourite effect is the revving of the wheels at the start of your race. You can actually feel it like there are little wheels inside the joycon rotating. Pretty impressed it can do that.
I hope more games take advantage of it, I think if it is done with sound design it can just pair up and make games more immersive or tactile. Good stuff.

Running two player split screen with the kickstand up with individual joycons. Just wow, it's one thing knowing that something can be done- it doesn't really hit home till you see it in front of you and see that it works.

So my new favourite thing is playing time trials in MK8 Deluxe just smashing into things so I can feel the HD rumble at play.
Some of it is hard to describe. Aside from the revving of the wheels at the start, the boosting feeling is great. There's actual depth to it, almost like you are holding a tube and can feel gas shooting down the length of the pipe.
Also you feel the bumpy ground when you go offroad, normal surfaces don't have a feeling to it sadly - because I am so good at MK, I hardly ever go off road to feel it.

Had an amazing online battle mode in Mario Kart , Renegade roundup.
So you have to be in teams and run from the cops. If you get caught you get stuck in a cage and can only honk to be freed. It's hilarious when you see the cage slowly filling up with your team and you're kind of eyeing each other thinking 'crap guys'. Then you can be sprung from your cage by someone free who smashes the lock on it. Then you immediately boost and rush out to freedom. So I freed the most and topped the 12 player match, very surprising. But what was hilarious  was in the lobby for the next match our winning teams Miis all had kingly gold royal crowns. I must have laughed for 5 minutes. Then in the next match I noticed  when you are leading you have the same gold crown in game.

Anyhow you guys it's  well worth the money picking this game up. There are like 4 I think battle  mode variations including one where you all pile in on one guy and another where it's  all bombs all the time. And there are 8 new arenas in the game and the Splatoon map is frigging awesome. Also because the graphics are sharper I find myself actually  watching the replays. The animations are amazing slowed down.

The replays are so good in 1080p you can see every frame of what is happening when you slow things down. In one replay Peach tried to overtake me as Mario and Mario had the death stare, raised his red shell and slammed the shit out of her then passed giving her the death stare. Amazing.
Then when I slowed down the animation in the replay for another move, dropping a banana behind me, you see in slow motion your character actually spins around 180 throws it right down in front of DK in this case and spun back. The Splatoon character models are excellent too and they have various Splatoon themed skins when you use them.

So anyhow in renegade roundup battle mode in MK8 in that match I was talking about 3 of our team were caught in the cage and the game tells you how many are left for the cops to catch before we lose. So essentially it said "One more left!" and us 3 losers in the cage, the tension was rising. Then the last guy on our team, at this point it was 1 renegade vs 4 cops and he alone bust us out and we rode out the last seconds of the match as the winners.
Posted by gamingeek Wed, 10 May 2017 18:39:11
 
Wed, 10 May 2017 20:34:15
I'll buy it when cheap... oh wait....

Great review btw
 
Wed, 10 May 2017 21:08:24
How do you play MK vader? I got the impression from you and Edge that you just play through the tracks one by one and that's it?

I start at the lowest 50cc then work my way up, getting gold in every grand prix on every difficulty. This also unlocks all the characters and karts.

I also do all the tracks in time trial mode to investigate every shortcut and how to handle certain corners. Then after all that the online keeps me entertained for months.
 
Wed, 10 May 2017 23:07:11
So can't wait to get a Switch and this game as well.
 
Fri, 12 May 2017 02:01:39
I do the easiest Gram prize, beat it then get bored cause you have to do it all over again. And again.
 
Fri, 12 May 2017 14:14:06
Da fuq?

Why don't you try 200cc. Sounds like a challenge and you seem to dig harder games.
 
Fri, 12 May 2017 17:06:32
I always start at the easiest and work my way up through to the hardest plus online never gets old.
 
Fri, 12 May 2017 19:14:40
Aren't you supposed to go in order?
 
Sat, 13 May 2017 11:11:34
Well the deluxe version has all difficulties open from the start. Did you ever try playing online?
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