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?

Gaming

Sony unveils PlayStation Classic, comes pre-loaded with 20 games

It brings back good memories

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Since gaming consoles today are all about great graphics and superb gameplay, it’s nice to have a break from them and enjoy a classic title. That’s what Nintendo realized with the reborn retro consoles, and now Sony wants to join the fun with the introduction of the PlayStation Classic.

The PlayStation Classic comes almost 25 years after the first PlayStation. It’s a miniaturized version that’s approximately 45 percent smaller than the original release, but it still emulates the look and feel. Here’s a short video showing off the new retro-style console:

Fans of the original PlayStation will be able to relive 20 legendary titles including Final Fantasy VIIJumping FlashRidge Racer Type 4Tekken 3, and Wild Arms. All of the pre-loaded games are playable in their original format.

Unfortunately, you can’t put in your old but still working PlayStation game because it has no CD drive. The open disc and reset buttons have been remapped to serve different functions, but they’re nice to have for the complete nostalgic feel. The PlayStation Classic also comes with a pair of original PlayStation controller replicas.

Sony is already accepting pre-orders in key markets for around US$ 100. The PlayStation Classic will be available in stores starting December 3.

SEE ALSO: The Nintendo Family Computer from your childhood is back

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Gaming

Razer Phone 2 launch date confirmed

This year’s best gaming phone?

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No more speculation needed: The next Razer Phone will arrive on October 10.

Currently named the Razer Phone 2, it succeeds the Razer Phone that was launched in November last year. This will be Razer’s second gaming smartphone, and it’ll likely be a familiar-looking product.

An earlier leak revealed that the new Razer Phone will have the same physique as its predecessor’s, probably so that it’ll still fit into the Project Linda game plan.

This means Razer will have a new gimmick to present in order for it to separate itself from the original — plus more powerful hardware, of course.

We’ll definitely see the return of the 120Hz display, which enables smoother gameplay for certain mobile titles. The inside should get significant upgrades as well, such as a Snadrapdargon 845 processor, up to 8GB of memory, 512GB of integrated storage, and at least 4000mAh of battery capacity.

The event will happen transpire in Hollywood based on this invitation sent to select media:

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Features

4 big announcements headline the latest Nintendo Direct

Not even an earthquake could stop them from dropping something big

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Nintendo did not let an earthquake deter their chances of bringing something explosive to its audience. After being rescheduled to a week after its original air date, Nintendo Direct finally took place and brought with it a whirlwind of game releases. So, if you don’t have a Nintendo Switch yet, now would be a good time to get one.

More classic games for Nintendo Switch

The company’s cloud-based hub Nintendo Switch Online adds more classic titles to the mix before its official release on Tuesday. Apart from the original ten titles announced back in May, games such as YoshiExcitebike, Ice Hockey, and Ghosts ‘n Goblins are among the additional titles added. Nintendo also expects to add in a few more titles within the coming months. The company also mentioned that these titles will now feature online multiplayer — both cooperative and competitive gameplay.

Apart from these titles, there will also be new Final Fantasy games for the Switch in 2019. Square Enix will bring Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy X to the Switch through the Nintendo eShop. It was also announced that there will be a remastered version of Final Fantasy X-2 available around the same time as these games.

More Super Mario for the Switch

The popular Wii U platforming game New Super Mario Bros. U will be arriving on the Switch, now in a deluxe package. It will feature the same level of platforming from the Wii U classic, along with your lovable plumber brothers Mario and Luigi. What’s new about New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is the introduction of two new characters in Nabbit and Toadette. Nabbit is a magician-like rabbit that will not take any damage from opponents, while Toadette has the ability to turn into Peachette when grabbing a super crown.

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe will also come with another game in New Super Luigi U, with Luigi finally getting a starring role in their adventures. Both games are scheduled for release in January 2019, with New Super Luigi U bundled for free. And speaking of Luigi and his adventures:

Luigi’s Mansion 3 announced for the Switch

While Nintendo still claims this to be a working title, it was also announced that Luigi’s Mansion 3 will also come to the Switch. While a Nintendo 3DS title is already on its way in October this year, Nintendo said that the Switch game would be a new title altogether. This is the first time that the Luigi’s Mansion franchise will return to a console since its initial Nintendo GameCube release in 2001. The company also included new features for the 3DS title, including multiplayer and amiibo compatibility.

Animal Crossing finally gets a Switch title

Arguably, the biggest announcement during Nintendo Direct is the arrival of Animal Crossing to the Nintendo Switch. Part of a two-part announcement at the end of the live stream, Nintendo revealed little details as to the release date of the new Animal Crossing title, but it is expected to come out in 2019. Company executives also revealed that this will be a mainline game, meaning it will feature the same gameplay from before.

The announcement came in two parts, with the first part revealing that Isabelle will be a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. After showing gameplay footage from Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it quickly transitions into Tom Nook looking at his computer in a possible setup as a playable character. Instead, he decides to prepare the town when they stop “camping and smashing,” leading up to the reveal of Animal Crossing‘s release.

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