It’s been almost five years since the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, an enhanced version of a game that first launched for Wii U in 2014. A sequel purpose-built for Nintendo Switch is long-overdue, which is why rumors of a Mario Kart 9 reveal were circulating so fervently ahead of today’s Nintendo Direct. Mario Kart made an appearance, but it wasn’t to announce a sequel – it was for a victory lap.
On March 18, 2022, brand new Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC is set to release. The Booster Course Pass costs $24.99 and will bring 48 remastered courses – released eight at a time, spread across six waves that run until the end of 2023 – from across the Mario Kart series into Deluxe, which is one hell of a way to celebrate its 30th anniversary. These can be played locally and online, featuring classic tracks such as Choco Mountain (N64) and Coconut Mall (Wii), and… okay, look, a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass isn’t what we were expecting either.
But it really should come as no surprise that Nintendo is opting to release DLC rather than invest heavily in a completely new game for Switch. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the most successful Mario Kart game to date. After making its debut in 2014, the kart racer went on to become the best-selling Wii U game by shifting 8.4 million copies, while the 2017 enhanced edition has gone on to become the best selling Nintendo Switch game with a colossal 43.3 million copies sold. Those numbers combined make Mario Kart 8 one of Nintendo’s best performing titles of all time.
While Mario Kart 9 feels long overdue at this point in time, the appeal and success of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is undeniable. All you need to do is take a few laps around its courses again to fall under its spell. Mario Kart 8 is as fun today as it was in 2017, and as it was in 2014. Even now, after eight years of playing this game, as soon as somebody suggests a Nintendo Switch multiplayer session, Deluxe is still absolutely worth your time and attention.
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After all, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a damned good racing game. It features some of the very best tracks the Mario Kart series has ever seen. The experience itself is a shiny, polished, colorful package that’s endlessly enjoyable to play solo, with pals, or against other players online. The signature array of items at your disposal adds a dash of high-speed chaos to every race, and nothing can quite match the thrill of snatching away someone’s winning position over the finish line with a well-timed shell. With a cast of much-loved Nintendo characters on the starting grid, Deluxe has always felt like a definitive Mario Kart experience – one that continues to drive players together time and again.
Given how many hours I’ve played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe these past four years with my sibling, I can comfortably say it’s my favorite Mario Kart game to date. And for a game that first began life on the Wii U, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s staying power through the latest console generation really has been impressive. Outside of the fact that it’s incredibly entertaining in its own right, there is another reason Mario Kart 8 has been such a success on Nintendo’s hybrid console – visibility.
In many ways, the Deluxe edition of Mario Kart 8 gave what was already an excellent kart racer a new lease on life. The Wii U was a commercial failure for Nintendo, and its best and brightest games suffered as a result. Given how few people actually owned a Wii U, Nintendo was able to market Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as if it were a completely new experience for Switch. With key quality-of-life improvements, performance enhancements, and a varied selection of tracks, modes, and racers at its disposal it was easy to believe it too.
Mario Kart has become a bit of a staple for the true Nintendo experience. A brand new iteration of Mario Kart has appeared on almost every piece of major hardware the manufacturer has put out since the series made its debut in 1992. It has an established fanbase of players, and an undeniably broad appeal as a classic, family-friendly multiplayer experience – it’s truly pick-up-and-play, in a way that few other competitive multiplayer games are. With the Nintendo Switch already outselling the Wii, and on track to reach GameBoy and DS numbers, it’s no surprise that players of all-ages have flocked to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. And thanks to the release of this new DLC, it’s likely they will continue to do so long into the future too.
Mario Kart 8 lives on
Almost eight years later, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe still maintains its place as one of the very best Mario Kart games. It’s hard to imagine just how a new instalment could hope to overtake such a high position. That’s not something Nintendo needs to worry about in 2022. With the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass releasing on March 18, it’s going to give all of us an excuse to jump back into the fun – an opportunity to rediscover how excellent Mario Kart 8 looks, handles, and plays all these years later.
It’s disappointing that 2022 won’t bring Mario Kart 9, but playing 48 remastered tracks over the next two years is going to bring me plenty of satisfaction. A great game is about to get even better, and one of Nintendo’s most popular games will now have the drive it needs to likely overthrow Super Mario Bros (58 million) and Wii Sports (82 million) at the top of the sales charts. Who knows, by the time Mario Kart 9 does release, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe could in fact be the best-selling Nintendo game of all time… it’s possible. Either way, when Mario Kart 9 does eventually come out, its predecessor will be remembered as a true milestone for the series.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes its place in our pick of the best Switch games you can play right now.