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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review:

Mario Kart 8 is the Nintendo Switch's best party game

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The Good Tons of tracks and game modes. Includes everything from the top-notch Wii U game, plus more. Graphics look even better on Switch. Online modes are great, too.

The Bad The tiny Joy-Con controllers get pretty cramped for multiplayer games. If you've already bought the Wii U game, this game isn't much different.

The Bottom Line The best Mario Kart game ever gets even better on Switch, and its multiplayer modes make it great for groups.

The Nintendo Switch covers a lot of bases: handheld, game console, and -- someday, hopefully -- a central hub for all Nintendo games present, future and past. In that sense, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a test run for the Switch as total replacement for the Wii and Wii U. Can the Switch handle one of the best Wii U games ever made?

I've been playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch, and the quick answer is yes, in nearly every way.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe feels fast, fun, and it's got a ridiculous amount of tracks and characters to choose from. The Switch game includes both separately-sold add-on track and character packs on the Wii U, as well as a few extra battle modes for multiplayer. That's 48 tracks, eight multiplayer arenas and 42 characters you can race as. That's a lot of replay.

I tried racing games and battle modes with my eight-year-old son, and we had a blast over a single Switch screen. Yes, on-the-go multiplayer works, and the gameplay feels exactly the same in a good way.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also looks better than the several-year-old Wii U version, but on a game system that's a handheld. That alone often feels shocking. And, at the very least, it's proof that the Switch can be everything the Wii U was and more.

The bad news is that, at $60, Nintendo's asking any existing Mario Kart 8 fan to buy in again for largely the same game. But the good news is that this easily the best game to have on the Switch right now next to Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And, it's the best multiplayer/party game on the Switch, so bring friends.

But, don't bring too many... unless they have their own Switches.

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Lots of tracks in this game.

Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

Mode 1: multi-player, one screen

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe supports up to four-player split screen on a TV or even the Switch's tiny 6-inch screen. Four people huddled over the little Switch in four-player mode is a gameplay challenge, but the fact that it works at all is impressive. The frame rate drops in four-player split screen, but it's playable.

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