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(Pocket-lint) - If you seek evidence that Nintendo learned some major lessons from the Wii U's humiliating failure, you need look no further than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.

Its arrival so soon after that of the Switch console demonstrates that Nintendo has well and truly woken up to the necessity of providing its consoles with compelling games, as quickly as possible. Especially so when you consider that Mario Kart 8 was the only full iteration of any of its classic franchises to grace the Wii U.

And on Nintendo Switch, Mario Kart is as good as it's ever been. Even more propitiously, Deluxe is much more than a mere tarted-up port of the Wii U original. Indeed, it's the next must-own title for Nintendo's latest console.

Our quick take

If, like most, you never committed yourself to buying a Wii U, then you're in for a treat with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch. It's now 25 years since the first Mario Kart, and in that period, Nintendo has honed the franchise's gameplay to utter perfection. No other game offers such a delicious mix of whimsy, skill and sheer brutality – the pain of being hit by a blue or red shell yards before the finish line while leading, and then being hit by a fusillade of items as the rest of the field catches and passes will live with you forever.

What is really gratifying about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is that it contains more than we expected. The 16 extra tracks are all good, and some are stone-cold classics. They even include a take on the NES version of Rainbow Road, bringing the number of Rainbow Road versions in the game to three. Graphically, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is superb – the original looked fabulous, but on the Switch, it's even crisper, with much better textures – which won't leave you thinking that the Switch is underpowered (not that that matters a jot).

Quite simply, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the best ever version of one of the best ever games. If you own a Nintendo Switch, you would be mad not to buy a copy.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is released worldwide on 28 April 2017, exclusively for Nintendo Switch

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: The best ever version hits Nintendo Switch

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

5 stars - Pocket-lint editors choice
  • Small but significant gameplay tweaks add freshness
  • Battle mode revamp a roaring success
  • Extra tracks are great
  • Graphics are fabulous
  • Switch brings incredible local multiplayer possibilities
  • Nintendo could perhaps have revamped the online ranking system and tweaked the lobbying


Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: More than a mere port

First up, Deluxe includes all Mario Kart 8's downloadable content, which brings 16 new tracks, including Zelda and F-Zero themed ones, a bunch of new playable characters (there are 42 in all), karts and kart-parts, plus the 200cc mode which was added to Mario Kart 8 as an update. On top of all that, Battle mode has been completely – and very effectively – revamped. But what really surprises is that a number of small but significant tweaks and additions have been made which affect the core gameplay.

Perhaps the least significant of those are new driver aids which add auto-acceleration and steering assist (the latter removing the danger of plummeting off cliffs), designed to make Mario Kart 8 Deluxe accessible to those who are so young that they haven't yet developed effective motor skills.

But there are plenty of additions which will excite die-hard Mario Karters, including double item-boxes – stacked one on top of the other – which give you two power-ups for the price of one. You can't select which one to use first, but they still come in dead handy – and are generally placed in harder-to-reach positions.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also adds a third stage of drift-boost: drift around one of the longer corners, and the boost will go from blue to orange and eventually to purple, catapulting you forward when you exit the corner.