Mario Kart 8 is arguably the pinnacle of Nintendo’s flagship racing franchise (sorry, F-Zero), with more characters, tracks, and meme-worthy death stares than any previous entry in the series. It also holds the distinction of being the best-selling Wii U game of all time, but the console’s meager install base kept many gamers from experiencing the game’s awesomeness, prompting Nintendo to release a deluxe edition of the game on its shiny new Switch system.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first: If you have a Switch and never bought Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an absolute must-buy. (In fact, if you don’t have a Switch, the combination of MK8D and Zelda: Breath of the Wild make a compelling reason for picking one up.) Not only is this game, as the overview trailer puts it, the “fullest, fastest Mario Kart ever made,” but this game makes use of the Switch’s multiplayer capabilities in ways that Breath of the Wild does not. (As good as Snipperclips and Super Bomberman R look, neither can match the pure speed rush of Mario Kart.) If you’re not coming from MK8 on the Wii U, you should but this game if you buy a Switch.
If you already own Mario Kart 8, however, the cost/benefit calculation gets a little trickier, as you’ll be forced to pay $60 for a game you already own. If you haven’t already purchased the current MK8 DLC packs, this cost is a little easier to swallow: You’ll get six more characters (Link, Isabelle, etc.) in addition to the MK8D exclusives, and sixteen more racetracks on top of MK8D‘s battle arenas. If you already have MK8 and the DLC packs, however, these numbers are a little less palatable: No new racetracks, a few new racers you may or may not be excited about, and a retooled battle mode. Is that really worth paying full price for a game you already own?
Ultimately, whether or not you should buy Mario Kart 8 Deluxe if you already have Mario Kart 8 comes down to how you prefer to play the game:
- If you’re more of a single-player racer, then going with the DLC-expanded Mario Kart 8 is the best option. This way, you’re not missing out on any tracks, and you’ve got most of the drivers and kart options at your disposal.
- If you enjoy racing with (local) friends, sticking with MK8 is still a viable option. Traveling with a Wii U isn’t terribly cumbersome, so if you have enough controllers, getting together around a single console isn’t too hard to pull off. Even if your fellow racers are upgrading to MK8D, the Switch’s Joy-Cons make tagging along as a second player really easy, so you can still join in on the fun.
- If you like racing online, you’re probably going to have to make the switch to MK8D. As the Switch takes off and more people upgrade from the Wii U, the MK8 online scene will eventually peter out and provide little competition. Even worse, if the MK8D servers are separate from the original MK8 ones, Nintendo may eventually shut down MK8‘s online functionality altogether.
- If you like Mario Kart‘s battle mode, you’ll want to upgrade to MK8D. In addition to dedicated arenas, the deluxe version brings back several game modes from past games (Coin Runners, Shine Thief) and adds some interesting new ones (Renegade Roundup, Bob-omb Blast).
- If you’ll be playing alongside new or younger racers, MK8D is probably the way to go. Not only does the Switch have two built-in controllers, but Steering Assist will protect against temper tantrums triggered by falling off a course repeatedly. (Also, the Switch’s parental controls can give you some insight into the time your child spends gaming.)
In a perfect world, Nintendo would offer some sort of discount for current Mario Kart 8 owners, making the upgrade to MK8D a bit easier to swallow. Barring that, however, you’ll have to consider the ways you prefer to play Mario Kart 8, and decide if the potential offered by Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will benefit you enough to make the switch.