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Mario Kart 8 on Switch’s upgrades make it worth picking up again

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All the reasons why you’ll wanna double-dip

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the next marquee game heading to the Nintendo Switch. An overview trailer released by Nintendo today shows why owners of the original game on Wii U may want to pick up the kart racer a second time when it hits Switch next month, with a glut of new features and content exclusive to the re-release.

New characters

There are new playable characters in the Switch version of Mario Kart 8, ranging from more Mario faves to two of the kids (or squids?) from Splatoon. These new characters are Splatoon’s Inkling Girl and Inkling Boy, alongside King Boo, Dry Bones and Bowser Jr. All together, that makes for 42 possible racers total. (As a bonus, the Splatoon characters bring their own custom karts to the game, too. That means there’s at least two more karts to choose from.)

New Battle mode

The beloved Battle mode gets a major revamp with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, with fiver different ways to play adding diversity to the multiplayer feature.

These include the original Renegade Roundup, which has one team trying to put the other in jail in a set amount of time. The match is spent busting renegade racers, who in turn are busting out of jail cells before time’s up.

The rest of Deluxe’s Battle mode, which includes eight courses, is derived from familiar gameplay styles. There’s the classic balloon battle, the Bob-omb Blast mode from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Mario Kart Wii’s coin-obsessed challenge and the capture the flag-like Shine Thief.

Returning items

Players can now hold two items at once, a feature that went missing from Mario Kart 8 on Wii U. Also returning are the Boo item, which can be used to rob other racers of the items they’re most attached to, and the Feather, which hasn’t been in the game since the original Super Mario Kart. This item lets players jump high into the air to escape any other racers or threatening items on the ground.

New ways to play

As we discovered at an event in January, Mario Kart 8 includes some unique — and surprisingly fun! — ways to play on Switch over the Wii U. For one, there’s the Joy-Con steering wheel peripheral, which is a plastic shell for a single Joy-Con controller. Think of it as Mario Kart Wii’s Wii wheel accessory, only ... better. It’s hard to quite articulate why that is; perhaps its the comforting amount of weight and grip it adds to the tiny Joy-Con. All we can say is, we had a blast using it to play the Switch version of Mario Kart 8.

The Switch also lets two friends play together in portable mode without the need of an extra controller, thanks to the console’s included pair of Joy-Con controllers. We’d love to see some Snipperclips-style functionality (and chaos) added to Mario Kart, so this is a Deluxe-exclusive feature to be excited for.

Mario Kart 8 is out April 28, with the separate Joy-Con wheels sold in packs of two for $14.99 the same day. Check out 30 screenshots below for another glimpse at the Switch version.