Oh boy, just from the title alone I have probably ruffled a few feathers already. The Mario Kart franchise has always been one of my personal favorites. When I was just a little guy, my babysitter would always bring over her Nintendo 64 with both Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64.
Though I loved both and still love both, my heart fell for Mario Kart 64 harder. Then, when I finally received my very first Nintendo home console for Christmas (the GameCube) bundled with it was Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
I pumped hours and hours into that game. The moral of the story is I have been a Mario Kart fan for nearly my whole life. And, much like everyone else, I was extremely excited when Mario Kart 8 was revealed for the Wii U.
Years later, Nintendo then ported the same game over to the Switch and dubbed it Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Both titles were extremely well-received across the globe and while the port is definitely an improvement over the original game, both entries still leave a sour taste in my mouth to this day.
With the time I have with you today, I would like to go into detail as to why I feel the way that I do. All the issues I have are legitimate and while they can come off as opinionated, I hope that you can at least respect them.
The Character Roster
Over the years, Nintendo has done a superb job of improving the character roster for each Mario Kart game. However, few people will disagree when I say that the original roster for Mario Kart 8 was hot garbage. They brought over some of the greats with the deluxe version (King Boo and Dry Bones were the standouts) but that far from fixed the problem.
For starters, was it really necessary to add all seven Koopalings separately? Sure, they have different characteristics but that used up seven slots for seven characters that are fairly similar in their appearance. Then, you have the redundant additions of Metal Mario, Tanooki Mario, Pink Gold Peach, Cat Peach, and Baby Rosalina.
Nintendo could have simply provided the player with the option of selecting alternate costumes to save character slots. Even in the deluxe version, fan-favorites such as Diddy Kong, Dixie Kong, Funky Kong, and Petey Piranha could have been included as at least the Kong family is unique.
The Wide Nature of the Tracks
I may be alone here but one of the reasons I never feel fully immersed in Mario Kart 8 is due to how wide the tracks were designed. There are hardly any moments where you need to perform tight drifting and turning to avoid falling off (unless you are playing at 200cc).
With some of the remakes of the Wii version, this becomes more prevalent. For example, play Moo Moo Meadows on both the Wii and Switch (or Wii U) and you will understand what I am talking about. Plus, Lakitu saves you in Mario Kart 8 before the classic black screen can initiate to even further amplify the problem.
Some of the Items Are Butchered
Sure, Mario Kart 8 did add some fantastic items such as the Super Horn and the Crazy Eight. At the same time, it also butchered some of the staples in the series. Instead of tailing behind you like in previous installments, the Triple Bananas rotate around your kart (which means they almost serve as shells).
The Star is completely watered down and no noticeable speed boost is present. Both the Bob-omb and Spiny Shell (Blue Shell) only launch the player slightly into the air and even all the mushroom items feel like they have less impact.
The Item Distribution System
The last issue was somewhat minor but this one is enormous. Some players like the distance-based item distribution system but I will always be a supporter of the old placement-based system.
I can see what Nintendo was aiming to do and I can even respect those of you who prefer the new system. With items being based on distance, theoretically, it would be easier for racers to catch up to other players who are far ahead.
Yet, whenever I play, I find that once you get in first, it is easy to remain there, but getting there can be problematic. For me, receiving items based on placement just amped up the entertainment level as the games that integrated this system seemed more engaging to play.
Look, I still enjoy playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (it is the better of the two) but I will go to my grave claiming that it is overrated by many. That is the beauty of the video game industry, though, as there is a little something for everyone.