A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a racing game. It stars iconic game characters from all over the Nintendo universe, who drive go-karts around outlandish and imaginative tracks. There's some violence with fireballs, shells, and other animated weapons, but it's cartoonish in nature and there's nothing graphic shown. This is a port and extended version of the 2014 Wii U game, providing lots and lots of supplemental content, bonus features, and visual enhancements. There are also some much-welcome refinements made to the online play.
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What's it about?
As a racing game, MARIO KART DELUXE 8 has no real narrative. You play as one of 42 -- yes, 42 -- characters and can compete in races on 48 courses, five battle modes, and extensive online modes. In the races, obviously, your goal is to reach the finish line through speed or strategic use of weapons, such as dropping a banana on the track to slip up opponents trailing behind or hitting a series of jumps for a temporary speed burst. In the battle modes, you want to be the last racer standing on tracks designed for games of cat-and-mouse hunting.
Is it any good?
This definitive version of the popular racing franchise brings hours of fast-paced fun to the palms of your hands. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an interesting cross-pollination of previous entries and course corrections on a few lacking (or completely missing) modes of the 2014 Wii U version. If you're unfamiliar with the lineage, all you need to know is that this entry is wacky, frenetic, and a lot of fun. In the racing modes, each track is given a healthy amount of variety, not only in their frequent branching paths offering alternate routes but also in the strategy in customizing your vehicle. Most stages have areas where your car (or motorcycle) will flip into a hovercraft, go underwater, or go careening through the sky with a paraglider. You can change up each of these different modes for your car, plus the wheel size and chassis. This, on top of the 42 characters available, means you can fine-tune but also explore for quite a while to find your winning combination that works for your play style. There are also lots of variants in the battle modes (coin runners, shine thief, balloon battle, renegade roundup) -- which were noticeably anemic in the original Wii U version. Here, most of them are great. Obviously, with so much sheer stuff in this game, not everything will be a smashing success. The only minor knocks against it are the inability to customize your control, how dull single-player will be for series veterans, and the fact that while there are tons of characters, many of them are uninspired (baby versions of characters, characters wearing different costumes). Still, Mario Kart is Mario Kart, meaning it's a blast and madcap fun to play for hours and hours and hours.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about older works being given a new coat of paint. Even when it's done lovingly and adds extra value, why is this such a popular approach to releasing new products for entertainment companies?
What do you notice about the way you interact with other people when you play a game such as Mario Kart against people in the same room versus people you play against through the internet?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.