When fans of Nintendo expressed concern about the lack of major titles announced for the launch year of their latest console, Switch, Nintendo said they intended to space out the major titles to let each game have its own time to shine.

Coming up on two months since Zelda: Breath of the Wild was launched, Nintendo has released their second, much anticipated title: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Originally released for the Wii-U, it seems that Nintendo wanted to give the game a second chance since it was arguably held back by the Wii-U’s poor adoption. But Nintendo isn’t doing just a simple port. They have, in their own way, sweetened the pot.

Let’s start with graphics: Nintendo slapped a new coat of shine on this version, giving gamers sharper textures and slightly improved colors. Some small details have been reworked completely like car details. The result is a fresh-looking game that doesn’t look like last generation’s neglected child. The game runs smoothly whether you are in docked mode or playing in portable mode, with no jitters like could be seen in BotW.

Nothing new comes to the driving aspect of MK8D, aside from the double items you can now carry during a race. This offers some strategic possibilities, but also allows you to challenge your friendships even harder with more turtle shells and bananas to help you give resting Luigi face to all your friends.

The full out additions to this version of the game is that it comes with all the DLC’s of the original game, and additional characters from Splatoon and two new tracks. It also comes with more battle modes now which improve on an area the game fell short on in its Wii-U version.

There are 8 battle maps to choose from, but some work better than others depending on which battle mode you want to play. There is Balloon Battle, which has appeared in several versions of the game, Shine Thief – which is basically grabbing an item and trying to hold onto it as long as possible while others try to steal it from you. This one is probably the most fun. Bob-omb Blast is a free-for-all of bomb-slinging chaos. This mode was fun, but also a little hectic when playing on maps with more confined spaces.

Coin Runners is a team based battle where each team tries to collect the most coins. While fun, it wasn’t so much a “battle” as race for resources. Lastly there was Renegade Roundup, a team-based battle where you drive around with the piranha plant on the hood of your car, or not. If you don’t have one, your goal is to stay away from the players who do and not get put in jail. It’s a great team building game while also allowing you to damage certain friendships at the same time.

Now for the awkward conversation – The joy cons. I still don’t love them. You can play MK8D just fine with one joy con, and with additional controllers coming with an $80 price tag on them – most of us will have to. But if the joy cons together as one controller is passable, using them individually for an experience like Mario Kart just makes the small, cramped non-ergonomic shortcomings of this decision by Nintendo, much more apparent. Seriously, Nintendo – The pro-controller. Just stop with this other stuff.

That aside, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a great release for the Switch, and is a game that definitely deserves to get a second lap. The only question is will this game hold folks over until Nintendo’s next big title, Arms which will be released in June? Will you be playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with your friends?

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