Gaming

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: The quintessential Switch game

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The Nintendo Switch has had a breakneck first two months. The console hybrid is Nintendo’s fastest-selling system ever; launch-aligned, it’s even overtaken the sensation that was the Wii. Driven by a robust selection of quality titles, the Switch has topped charts worldwide and is continually sold out. But Zelda and Snipperclips aren’t the reasons to buy a Switch right now. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is. Here’s why.

It’s a sensory showpiece

Even on the Wii U, vanilla Mario Kart 8 is one of the most gorgeous games of the generation, despite only rendering at 720p. At 1080p docked, Deluxe cements this further. The game does phenomenal things with lighting that I’ve never seen anywhere else, even on the PS4 and PC. Nintendo’s iconic characters have a soft, almost toy-like look (especially when drenched in sun) that looks even better in motion. Thanks to expert art direction, it’s easy to be fooled that Wario’s flatulent flab — as it jiggles up the cobbles of Toad Harbor — is made of real clay.

When you take the Switch out of the dock, Deluxe becomes even more impressive. Apart from the 720p resolution, the portable game is completely identical to the docked version. Races pop on the Switch’s brilliant IPS display. And considering that the last mobile Mario Kart was the once-impressive Mario Kart 7 on the never-impressive 240p screen of the 3DS, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe represents an exponential graphical leap over the series’ last handheld iteration, as shown by Digital Foundry below:

Completing the synesthetic spectacle is HD rumble — coins “jingle” in your real-life hand as you collect them in game. You can also feel the difference between the three levels of drift boost from the barely-there blue to the new, game-changing pink; the tactility allows you to keep your eyes on the road instead of your kart. The judder of train tracks under your wheels, as well as the different textures when you go offroad, give you another form of feedback that lets you know that you need to get good.

It’s the definitive version of an all-time great

Mario Kart 8 was the best in the series, and Deluxe improves it further. It’s running at a true 60fps this time — the Wii U original had a weird issue that resulted in an effective 59fps framerate. Thankfully, that glitch has been resolved, as has the fire-hopping exploit that made leaderboards and online matches a total shamble.

All the DLC content is included here, which results in a total of 42 racers, 48 tracks, and an overwhelming number of kart parts. Deluxe also corrects the only deficit in the otherwise impeccable Wii U version by amending the original’s deplorable Battle Mode (which had racers fighting on tracks made for racing, making for bouts wherein combatants rarely saw each other). Deluxe has eight arenas specifically designed for Battle Mode, as well as five play modes that include the classic Bob-omb Blast and the all-new Renegade Roundup, where one team of “cops” has to catch and jail the other team of “robbers” — but a free robber can rescue their teammates at any time. It’s a frantic party game, and is almost worth the price of entry.

Parties are no fun if people can’t join in, and Deluxe shines with its wealth of accessibility options for inexperienced players, easily toggled from the pause menu. The old standby of tilt controls returns, and an optional set of joy-con wheels completes the conceit. The new auto accelerate is useful and fair; in Mario Kart, you never let up on the gas anyway. But the most welcome addition is smart steering, which implements an invisible hand to keep racers from falling off the track. If you’ve ever played any kart racer with small children or non-gamers, their frustration with bottomless pits will be familiar. This setting alleviates that problem, and allows everyone to play.

(Nearly) everybody has it

The game has proven immensely popular barely a week from release. In America, Deluxe is selling faster than Mario Kart Wii, and that went on to sell a ridiculous 37 million copies worldwide. Apparently, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also has an attach rate of 45 percent, which means that almost one out of every two Switch owners has this game. You won’t have trouble finding someone online to race against, or a real-life Switch buddy to go head-to-head with. But even if your friends don’t have a copy, it’s okay, because…

It’s the poster child for local multiplayer

Remember the promise of the Switch in its debut showing? The Switch is the only modern system that comes with two controllers out of the box. Couple that with the screen, and you can play whenever and with whomever you want. Take one joy-con for yourself, and share one with a friend (or even a total stranger) and you have instant local multiplayer. If you have more controllers, up to four people can play on a single Switch in splitscreen. Bring the joy-con straps, though — bare joy-con are horrendously uncomfortable, what with Mario Kart’s reliance on the shoulder buttons. An IGN producer compared using the naked shoulder buttons as trying to drift with your phone’s volume rocker, and there’s no more apt way to describe the discomfort.

The Switch’s — and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s— ability to be played anytime, anywhere, and by anyone makes the system inherently viral. The Switch is an ad for itself, and the simple act of playing together has convinced at least three people in my own social circle to get one for themselves.

It (re)introduces you to Nintendo

In the grand scheme of things, no one bought a Wii U, and to the non-hardcore, Nintendo disappeared from consoles for almost an entire generation. To the general public, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a high-definition debut of sorts for Nintendo’s stable of characters, including Mario himself, as we wait for their respective games to arrive on the Switch.

The celebration is a riot. Apart from the Nintendo mascot and seemingly his entire extended family, the Villagers and Isabelle from Animal Crossing compete on Möbius tracks inspired by Excitebike, F-Zero, and Wii Sports Resort. Exclusive to Deluxe, Inkling Girl and Boy from Splatoon and the upcoming Splatoon 2 appear, and mark the first time that people of color (who aren’t Miis) are playable in any Mario Kart game. Rounding out the roster, looking the most out of place in this world of red shells, high technology, and anti-gravity, is Link. And if you want more of him, you know which Switch game to play next.

SEE ALSO: Persona 5 review: Can style override substance?

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Gaming

Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered has a new Peter Parker

New face, new graphics, same Amazing story

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There’s been a lot of discussion about how confusing it is to get Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered for PlayStation 5. In a PlayStation blog, Insomniac Games — the studio responsible for the 2018 hit — kind of explains what exactly is going on.

First of all, Peter Parker has a new face. This will likely be one of the most noticeable changes on the Remastered version. Good ol’ Peter will now be played by Ben Jordan instead of John Bubniak. Insomniac says they did so “to get a better match to Peter Parker/Spider-Man actor (voice actor) Yuri Lowenthal’s facial capture.

Here’s a clip to see how the new face looks in the Remastered game.

What do you think? Gotta admit it feels jarring at first, but Spider-Man fans should be pretty used to it. After all, we did get three live-action Peters in the last two decades. Not to mention the infamous Clone Saga in the comic books that gave us multiple faces under the Spider-Man mask.

Better looking game

Naturally, that’s not the only new thing on Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered. To take advantage of the PS5’s power the entire New York City environment had to look better.

Other than improved models and materials, the game will now also have ray-traced reflections and ambient shadows. Just take a look at this.

There’s now also a Performance Mode where players can be like Spidey on a 60fps frame rate. Here’s what that looks like.

Near-instant loading is now also a thing. But Insomniac says you can still turn on the fast-travel train scenes should you wish to do so. There will also be new photo mode features that were added for Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales. One example is you can now place lights in the environment and change Spidey’s suit after composing your shot.

Speaking of new suits, the Remaster will give us three new Spidey suits. The first of which is the Amazing Suit. Yes, the one featured on the live-action The Amazing Spider-Man film starring Andrew Garfield.

But how do you get Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered?

It’s available as part of the Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales Ultimate Edition. That was the only thing that’s really clear. It’s available for US$ 69.99 and nets you the following: 3 skill points, Gravity Well Gadget, and The T.R.A.C.K. Suit.

In the US and Canada only, we have additional “launch” physical editions of the game for both Standard Launch Edition and Ultimate Launch Edition (Launch Edition includes a voucher*)! These copies are available in limited quantities only so don’t delay.

The launch edition includes a voucher for early unlocks of two suits, including the T.R.A.C.K. Suit by Marvel Artist Javiar Garrón, and a suit we’ll reveal closer to launch. You’ll also receive an early unlock of the Gravity Well Gadget, and three Skill Points to get a jump start on your progression.

For those buying digitally, or outside of the US/Canada, you also can receive those same early unlocks by ordering now.

Worried you won’t get the Standard Launch Edition? The Standard Edition of Marvel’s Spider-Man Miles Morales will be available on both PS4 and PS5 for US$ 49.99.

The PS4 version of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales offers a free upgrade path to PS5 Standard Edition. If you purchase or upgrade to the PS5 Standard Edition, you can take advantage of a paid-upgrade offer from the in-game menu to download Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered.

It’s still not as straightforward as we would like, but I’m sure Insomniac hopes this clears things up a little bit.

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Here’s a better look at Scarlet Nexus

The new story trailer dropped at Tokyo Game Show 2020

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In case you haven’t been paying attention, Bandai Namco will release this bad-ass looking Action RPG for the next-gen consoles (also coming to current-gen). Scarlet Nexus dropped a story trailer at Tokyo Game Show 2020 and it only confirms what we already know — this game is a visual spectacle.

Watch the story trailer:

The premise of the game is much, much clearer now. New on this trailer is the reveal of Kasane. Kasane is an orphan who lost her parents in a raid from the Others when she was a child.

Adopted by the powerful Randall Family, she became one of the most promising elements of the OSF after being scouted at 12 years old. Now an elite soldier with superb fighting skills, Kasane masters the power of psychokinesis in combination with her sharpened throwing knives.

Kasane joins Yuito Sumeragi as a playable character with her own skills and story.

We still don’t know exactly when the game will drop. We do know it will come to the Xbox Series X and S, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, XBox One, and Steam/PC.

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Gaming

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla: New story trailer, new podcast series

Ubisoft is making sure you’re hyped about their upcoming game

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Ubisoft hasn’t been remiss in hyping up its upcoming AAA game — Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. As a lead-up to the game’s release on November 10, the company has released Eivor’s (main character) story trailer and a podcast to keep us hooked.

The story trailer offers players a new glimpse of Eivor, a fierce Viking raider torn between their duty to their brother Sigurd and a personal quest for glory. Driven from Norway by endless wars and dwindling resources, Eivor’s clan must secure a future among the kingdoms of England.

During their journey, Eivor will come across the Hidden Ones, and face powerful figures including Saxon kings and the warmongering sons of Ragnar Lothbrok, as well as a mysterious, growing threat that could determine England’s destiny”.

Watch the trailer:

 

Echoes of Valhalla

As mentioned earlier, there’s also a new podcast that you can sink your ears into. It’s a podcast documentary called Echoes of Valhalla, that unveils the historical background of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. 

You can listen to the podcast on Spotify.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla will take you back to the era of the Vikings, battling through the harsh Dark Ages of England. You play as Evior, a powerful Viking warrior and leader tasked with keeping his entire clan alive as they brave through broken kingdoms.

The game will launch on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the Epic Games Store and Ubisoft Store on PC. It will launch on the PlayStation 5 when the console launches.

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