Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + Booster Course review – kart racing king

Now that the final wave of DLC has landed, our Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + Booster Course review sees how well the kart racer has stood the test of time.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course review: Toad driving a kart and holding a blue shell, outlined in white and pasted on a blurred Rainbow Road screenshot

Our Verdict

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + Booster Course is the ultimate way to experience Nintendo’s classic kart racer on the Switch. There are hours upon hours of content and a fantastic mix of nostalgic tracks and brand-new courses - it’s bound to be a family favorite.

The holidays are coming up and what better way to spend the cold winter evenings than engaging in some friendly competition? Mario Kart has long been a staple of family get-togethers and game nights, so in this Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + Booster Course review, I take a look back at the Switch’s offering for the franchise and see how it holds up nearly seven years after its initial release.

The base version of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe launched on the Switch in April 2017. As the name suggests, it’s an expanded version of the Wii U’s Mario Kart 8 which includes that title’s DLC as standard. I didn’t get my Switch until 2020 so I missed the game’s early days, but I played the hell out of Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U and loved it.

Getting to jump back into the world of kart racing with all of my favorites from the Mario franchise feels amazing, and all six waves of DLC offer healthy doses of new content and nostalgia, introducing beloved characters and tracks from all corners of Nintendo’s iconic IP. I was particularly excited to show my partner that Birdo makes an appearance, as she’s their ride-or-die pick in Mario Party.

Although it’s hard to confirm without access to my Wii U (which was sadly stolen from my third-year university house), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s graphics feel like an upgrade from the original version. Every character, kart, and track just looks a little bit brighter and more sparkly, like they received a fresh coat of paint. Despite this, jumping into the game after so many years away was just like riding a bike – I immediately fell back into my old groove.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course review: The character select screen showing the full selection of characters included in the game and DLC. I have chosen Orange Yoshi

Back in the Wii and Wii U days, I was a committed motion-control-only player, but I decided to learn the button controls for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Unsurprisingly, they’re really intuitive and feel great, especially now that I know which sizes of controllers fit best in my tiny hands. My only slight gripe is that, because my partner and I immediately jumped into multiplayer mode, the controller settings on the pause screen aren’t the clearest and we didn’t realize that auto-steering was turned on.

Personally, auto-steering isn’t for me. It severely limits your freedom to drift and collide with things, which in my opinion is half of the fun. But, as an accessibility feature, I think it’s amazing. Giving people the option to play Mario Kart with their friends and family with just one button is great for inclusivity, whether that’s for people with reduced mobility, or for young children just learning the ropes of videogames. I’d like the settings menu to be a little easier to access and navigate, as it baffles me that a game in 2023 doesn’t have settings on the home page, but overall it’s a welcome addition to the game.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course review: The results screen of an online race. Orange Yoshi is celebrating and a table shows the rankings of eleven players. Sixth place is highlighted in yellow

So, what about the DLC? In my opinion, now that all six waves of DLC are out, buying the booster pass is pretty good value for money. If you already own a copy of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, $25 USD can get you double the number of courses plus a great selection of extra Mario Kart characters including Birdo, Diddy Kong, and Wiggler. If you’re already a massive Switch fan, the booster pass comes included in the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack membership. The full bundle of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the booster pass is listed on the official site for just under $85 USD, but you can definitely cut the cost by getting the main game elsewhere or using some Nintendo Gold.

Before I got the opportunity to do this review, I was already planning to save up and grab myself the bundle, and now I’m extra certain that the full experience is for me. I can see myself using most, if not all of the DLC characters (Pauline is a maybe) and Sky-High Sundae and Squeaky Clean Sprint have jumped to the top of my all-time favorite tracks list. Plus, wave six helped me to confirm that the Wii’s iteration of Rainbow Road is the superior version.

My only issue with the DLC tracks themselves is the sheer volume of courses from Mario Kart Tour. I’ve never played the mobile game so I don’t have any connection to the tracks and, unlike the majority of console and handheld-based Mario Kart routes, the directions seem to change for each of the three laps. I find this extremely disorienting, especially when so many of the other levels don’t do this and are also incredibly easy to find your way in.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course review: A screenshot of the opening vista of Sky-High Sundae, an ice cream themed level

There are at least two Tour tracks per wave of DLC, with ten in total, but luckily their inclusion isn’t enough to muddy my opinion on the game as a whole. The booster pass exclusive tracks are all stellar and the old courses offer a huge hit of nostalgia. It feels like someone merged my copies of Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 8 together and added some extra sparkle to pull it all together.

Overall, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + Booster Course is a great investment for any household that loves multiplayer fun. With 96 courses to conquer in four different speed modes plus in reverse, a huge roster of lovable and unique characters, and easy-to-learn controls with child-friendly options, this game should be a staple at any game night or family event.

Now that you’ve read our review, check out our guides to the best Mario Kart tracks, motorbike games, and car games on the Nintendo Switch. We’ve also got all the info you need on the Mario Kart Hot Wheels and Mario Lego sets for a fun-filled festive season.