A star rating of 4 out of 5.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has been around the block a few times by this point, but how is the game holding up now that its Booster Course DLC tracks have all been delivered?


Long-term followers of the Mario games and all their spin-offs will remember that Mario Kart 8 actually predates the Nintendo Switch console, with the non-Deluxe version originally launching on the Wii U in 2014.

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The Switch version launched on Switch in 2017 with a suite of upgrades, going on to become one of the best-selling games on the console. And to finish it off, throughout 2022 and 2023, Nintendo gradually released 48 additional tracks as DLC.

So how is the game looking, feeling and playing now that the 'Booster Course' rollout is complete? Keep on reading and we'll get straight into it!

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First things first, it's worth stating that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is easily the best kart-racing game on the market.

The gameplay has always been slick, fun and utterly chaotic at times. Nothing beats the thrill of red-shelling an opponent just in time to fly past them over the finish line – or the frustration that comes when you're on the receiving end!

Over the years, plenty of imitators have tried to ape this formula. Some have come close – Crash Team Racing springs to mind, and Team Sonic Racing was OK – but many have absolutely flopped and failed to capture the magic that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has in spades.

Everything about the gameplay is best in class: the ease of picking up the controls, the brilliant variety of the throwable power-ups, the depth of perks on offer if you bother to tinker with your kart loadout, and the gorgeous tracks as well.

Ultimately, it all combines to make for one of the best competitive 'gather the family on the couch' experiences you can have in gaming right now. With robust assist options, you can easily bring in younger relatives and make it one of their earliest gameplay experiences in a really positive way.

The variety of tracks on offer is really excellent, as well, with the original offering being massively bolstered by those 48 DLC tracks. From retro favourites from the older consoles, to all-new creations (shoutout to the bathtub sequence) and even real-life locations taken from Mario Kart Tour, these new tracks offer all sorts of new thrills and spills. They're well worth investing in if you're looking for something new!

An official screenshot of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, showing Daisy gliding behind Bowser.
An official screenshot of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, showing Daisy gliding behind Bowser. Nintendo

Even with the original tracks, there's loads to enjoy, from brightly coloured backdrops to secret passageways and loads of opportunities to get one over on your rivals. Not to mention the gliding, anti-gravity and underwater segments!

As a racing experience, it's one of the best on the market – easy to pick up for younger players, but fun to master for adults with all the potential speed boosts on offer from drifting, collecting coins and using your items wisely.

The breadth of characters and crossovers is really impressive, as well, with Nintendo pulling out all the stops to bring in Animal Crossing and Zelda-themed races along with loads of other fun little callbacks and Easter eggs. Whether you're a Nintendo boffin or a first-time player, you'll almost always have a good time with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – except for when the blue shell gets you!

Why not five stars, then? What's stopping us from dishing out that perfect score? Well, there's one thing about Mario Kart 8 that has always ground my gears – the lack of compelling single player content has always been an issue for me, and Nintendo missed an opportunity to remedy that during its DLC project over the last couple of years.

While loads of other sports-based Nintendo games offer a fully fledged story mode, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has nothing of the sort. It doesn't even have a battle-pass-like series of objectives for solo players to try and hit. If you're not into time trials or racing against the CPU, you've basically got nothing to do in this game unless you team up with other players.

As a family sofa game, it's unrivalled. As something to do to liven up a party, it's perfect. But as a solo experience? Not so much. We never feel the urge to pull out Mario Kart 8 Deluxe unless there are other people around.

Thankfully, when those stars do align and we can get a good group together, it's non-stop frantic fun and definitely one of the best Nintendo Switch games to play with family and friends. Here's hoping Mario Kart 9 can fix our one gripe and make this a perfect game!

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is out now on Nintendo Switch. We reviewed on Nintendo Switch OLED.

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