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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - characters, battle mode, tracks and everything else we know about the new Switch version

Everything the new edition offers over its 2014 Wii U counterpart.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe wasn't a hugely surprising announcement for the Nintendo Switch - considering it was teased as part of the system's unveiling in October 2016 - but it was one of the few confirmed Nintendo Switch games given a firm release date.

This updated edition not only allows you to take the Wii U racer with you on the go - or play on a television at a full 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second - but it also comes with all previous DLC courses and characters, as well as a few new additions and changes of its own.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: what's coming to Nintendo Switch

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a Switch exclusive and includes the following features and additions.

Characters and courses:

A full list of characters and tracks are at the end of this article, but in summary:

  • The previous 32 courses and 30 characters from the original Mario Kart 8
  • DLC updates, including 16 extra tracks (a mixture of old and original courses, some inspired by Animal Crossing, Legend of Zelda and other Nintendo franchises), six DLC racers (Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link, Villager (boy and girl), Isabelle and Dry Bowser), and new themed vehicles
  • Five Deluxe-only characters - Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl from Splatoon (each with three palette swaps), King Boo, Dry Bones, and Bowser Jr.
  • A sixth unlockable character, Gold Mario, for completing every cup at 200cc
  • Palette swaps for Yoshi and Shy Guy for those who bought both DLC packs on Wii U
  • Three Deluxe-only vehicles, two inspired by Splatoon
  • New amiibo costumes for the Mii racer based on Splatoon figures
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Inkling Boy and Inkling Girl from Splatoon headline Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's new character roster.

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New character Bowser Jr.

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Features and mechanics:

  • New Battle Mode returns with five modes and eight arenas
  • Ability to carry two items at once
  • Two new items - the item-stealing Boo (during races) and jumping Feather (in Battle Mode)
  • A third, pink-coloured 'tier' when corner drifting for an extra level of boost
  • 200cc race class (including in Time Trial) from Wii U's DLC update
  • Smart Steering feature for novice players
  • Improved visuals - 1080p60 on TV, 720p60 on handheld - up from 720p only on Wii U
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New character Dry Bones

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And finally, new character King Boo

Multiplayer:

  • Up to 8 friends local multiplayer
  • Up to 12 player multiplayer online
  • Ability to change carts and characters in online lobbies:

Meanwhile, the following has either been removed from the game or unconfirmed:

  • Fire hopping technique (removed)
  • Mercedes DLC vehicles (unconfirmed)
  • Option of CPU racers in online matches (unconfirmed)

Battle mode and other new features explained in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

While the headline grabbing features are the inclusion of all previous DLC content and the addition of five new characters, there are several gameplay changes and additions that are worth delving into:

Items: Moment-to-moment, the biggest change will come in the form of items. Up to two items can now be held at any one time, essentially allowing you to have something in reserve once your current item - such as a protective shell - has been used.

There's a few caveats to how this works; you cannot choose or rotate between items, and dragged items are still equipped in the first slot, but you can collect and stack two single Item Boxes to fill your inventory, or fill them at the same time by driving into one of the rarer double Item Boxes throughout a course.

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Luigi uses a Boo.

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The Battle mode-only Feather.

Two new item types have also been added. The item-stealing Boo returns from Mario Kart 64, which visits another player with the most valuable item and adds to your inventory, while the Feather - which debuted on the original SNES Mario Kart - is a battle mode-exclusive that allows you to leap into the air.

Battle mode: After the divisive take on Battle mode in vanilla Mario Kart 8, the Deluxe edition takes things back to the franchise's roots.

There will be five modes:

  • Ballon Battle (burst opponents' balloons)
  • Bob-omb Blast (burst opponents' ballons only using Bob-ombs)
  • Renegade Roundup (one team attempts to capture the other using Piranha Plants)
  • Coin Runners (collect as many coins as possible)
  • Shine Thief (attempt to hold the Shine Sprite for 20 seconds to win)

And eight courses:

  • Battle Stadium
  • Dragon Palace
  • Luigi's Mansion (GCN)
  • Lunar Colony
  • Sweet Sweet Kingdom
  • Urchin Underpass
  • Wuhu Town (3DS)
  • Battle Course 1 (SNES)

Playing Bob-Omb Blast at a hands-on event, the mode was predictably chaotic, allowing players to pick up and hold 10 Bob-ombs at once from item boxes to discharge whenever they pleased, with successful attacks adding points to decide the victor after a timer runs out.

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Smart Steering: Another new feature is Smart Steering, designed to help guide novice players as they race. You can spot a racer using Smart Steering thanks to the antenna sticking from the back of the kart, and when enabled, will stop players from driving off the edge of any course.

At a hands-on event, the effect was pretty gentle, and was only noticeable when steering players away from a course's edge is they ventured too close.

It's thought this feature will be disabled by default for when you first start the game. While it's unknown whether the feature will work across all modes in the game - including online play - it'll work up to the 200cc racing class.

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Steering wheel accessory and control schemes: Similar to previous console Mario Kart games, the control schemes available to players are pretty flexible, letting any player use either both Joy-Cons in the grip, single Joy-Cons on the sides, and the Pro Controller.

Individual Joy-Cons can also be inserted into new plastic steering wheels - similar to what we saw with Mario Kart Wii, but with two shoulder buttons for improved drift and item control.

The game also allows you to mix and match control schemes in local and online multiplayer, so TV, split-screen Tabletop and Handheld users can also play against one another. Locally, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe supports 8 players over Wifi, while online, it'll be up to 12 players in total.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe characters and tracks

Though Mario Kart 8 Deluxe offers a handful of new and retro Battle mode courses, there are no new tracks coming to the racing parts of the game. It does, however, include all DLC tracks, bringing the roster up to 48 tracks in total.

Mushroom Cup

Mario Kart Stadium
Water Park
Sweet Sweet Canyon
Thwomp Ruins

Flower Cup

Mario Circuit
Toad Harbour
Twisted Mansion
Shy Guy Falls

shy

Shy Guy Falls in action.

Star Cup

Sunshine Airport
Dolphin Shoals
Electrodrome
Mount Wario

Special Cup

Cloudtop Cruise
Bone-Dry Dunes
Bowser's Castle
Rainbow Road

Shell Cup

Moo Moo Meadows (Wii)
Mario Circuit (GBA)
Cheep Cheep Beach (DS)
Toad's Turnpike (N64)

Banana Cup

Dry Dry Desert (GameCube)
Donut Plains 3 (SNES)
Royal Raceway (N64)
DK Jungle (3DS)

Leaf Cup

Wario Stadium (DS)
Sherbet Land (GameCube)
Music Park (3DS)
Yoshi Valley (N64)

Lightning Cup

Tick-Tock Clock (DS)
Piranha Plan Slide (3DS)
Grumble Volcano (Wii)
Rainbow Road (N64)

Egg Cup (DLC 1)

Yoshi Circuit (GameCube)
Excitebike Arena (based on Excitebike)
Dragon Driftway
Mute City (based on F-Zero)

Triforce Cup (DLC 1)

Wario's Gold Mine (Wii)
Rainbow Road (SNES)
Ice Ice Outpost
Hyrule Circult (based on Legend of Zelda)

Crossing Cup (DLC 2)

Baby Park (GameCube)
Cheese Land (GBA)
Wild Woods
Animal Crossing (based on Animal Crossing)

Bell Cup (DLC 2)

Neo Bowser City (3DS)
Ribbon Road (GBA)
Super Bell Subway
Big Blue (based on F-Zero)

Meanwhile, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's character roster is 41 strong, including 5 new Deluxe-exclusive racers:

  • Baby Daisy
  • Baby Luigi
  • Baby Mario
  • Baby Peach
  • Baby Rosalina
  • Bowser
  • Bowser Jr. (Deluxe)
  • Cat Peach (DLC)
  • Daisy
  • Donkey Kong
  • Dry Bones (Deluxe)
  • Dry Bowser (DLC)
  • Lakitu
  • Larry
  • Lemmy
  • Link (DLC)
  • Ludwig
  • Luigi
  • Gold Mario (unlocked for completing every cup at 200cc
  • Iggy
  • Inkling Girl (Deluxe, three versions available)
  • Inkling Boy (Deluxe, three versions available)
  • Isabelle (DLC)
  • King Boo (Deluxe)
  • Koopa Troopa
  • Mario
  • Metal Mario
  • Mii
  • Morton
  • Peach
  • Pink Gold Peach
  • Rosalina
  • Roy
  • Shy Guy (eight versions available)
  • Tanooki Mario (DLC)
  • Toad
  • Toadette
  • Villager (DLC)
  • Waluigi
  • Wario
  • Wendy
  • Yoshi (eight versions available)

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is set to release on April 28th; it can be pre-ordered from Amazon worldwide, in the UK from Nintendo's official store, GAME and Argos, and in the US, GameStop, Target, Walmart and Best Buy.

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