Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s 48-Course Expansion Is Like Getting a Whole New Game

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Key Takeaways

  • Nintendo announced a 48-course expansion for Mario Kart 8 on the Switch.
  • The first 8-course installment hits on March 18th.
  • Who needs a new game when Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is already so good?
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Tokyo track

Nintendo

Nintendo Switch classic Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is getting 48 new courses, doubling the number of courses available for hectic, argument-inducing cartoon racing. 

Mario Kart might be the best of Nintendo's franchises. Zelda: Breath of the Wild might be Nintendo's—and the world's—best game of all time, but the Mario Kart series might be the best multiplayer game series in history. And now it's about to get a whole series of new courses, coming eight at a time over the next two years. Fans might be hoping for a whole new Mario Kart game, but who needs one when you can effectively enjoy the original all over again?

"In my opinion, I don't want a whole new Mario Kart game," Vincent Caprio, Editor of GamerGuyde, told Lifewire via email. "How you play matters more than what you are playing. Mario Kart is a super fun game. There might be a few upgrades in Switch. There might be more great features in the Wii. It also doesn't matter if you enjoy it on a small or big screen. It all depends on how you play it and how you enjoy it."

Family Fun

If you don’t know the Mario Kart games, they’re simple, in principle. 12 Nintendo characters race against each other in little go-karts and can pick up Mario-themed power-ups along the way. Koopa shells are missiles, mushrooms give a speed boost, stars make you invincible, and so on.

Another key game mechanic is drifting, which has been around since the original, although now it’s easier to use. You can skid to drift through corners, and the longer the drift, the bigger the speed boost when you come out of it. 

The result is a game that combines luck, strategy, and plain good driving. It is possible to recover and win after the computer-controlled drivers all pile on to bully you during the final lap, but you’ll need to stay utterly calm, drive like a machine, and deploy those weapons at just the right moment.

In short, it’s utterly addictive.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe new track in the sky

Nintendo

Mario Kart, as a series, manages to be approachable, deep, long-lived, rewarding, and fun, all at the same time. My better half has never played video games in their life, apart from maybe Snake on an old Nokia phone, but they're hopelessly addicted to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and just as excited about the new expansion pack as I am. The phrase "family fun" has become an awful, meaningless cliche, but it applies here. 

It wasn't always this way. The first version, Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo (SNES), was an incredible game, but by today's standards, and even by the standards of 1992, it was absurdly hard. You can try it today on your Switch if you have an online subscription; you'll probably give up after a few courses. But once you were hooked, that was it. It was also a then-rare four-player title, making it perfect for late-night gaming sessions after the pub.

Mario Kart 

When that first game arrived, it seemed like a cynical cash-in. After seeing the TV ads, I thought it would just be a lame kart-racing game for kids; a way to reuse the Mario characters to milk some more cash from fans of the Mario platform games. But it turned out to be a hit, redefining the racing genre. The series has gone up and down since then—I never liked the N64 version as much as the original—but the latest version is almost perfect. 

And that’s not bad for an eight-year-old game that originally shipped for the Wii U, then got remixed for the Switch in 2017.

The new courses are available either as a part of the new higher-tier ($50 per year) subscription that also gives access to N64 and Sega Genesis games, or you can buy the DLC (downloadable content) pack for $25.

"I think the Deluxe 48 course expansion is much better than a new game, partly because the entire expansion will only cost $24.99 once-off," gaming writer Dan Troha told Lifewire via email. "Unless you already have a Nintendo Switch Online and Expansion Pack membership, in which case it's free."

For fans of the game, either of those are instabuys. The first "drop" is on March 18, and you'll get a mix of remastered courses from the 3DS, Wii, N64, GBA, and even Mario Kart Tour from the iPhone version. 

I can't wait.

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