Monday 24 July 2017

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review: A definitive dose of crazy karting

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch), 5 Stars, Age: 7+

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

A giddily generous gathering of greatest hits - or a cold-hearted cash-in? That is the dichotomy of MK8 Deluxe. For Nintendo has chosen very early in the life of its new Switch console to pad out the release schedule with a mere remaster of the karting classic instead of a fresh new instalment.

Cast aside such cynicism for a moment and the love Nintendo has poured into the deluxe version of MK8 is plain to see. Enjoy the breadth of choice in 48 courses, 42 characters and 23 weapons. Revel in the expanded form of Battle mode, which swaps races for goals such as coin collecting. Marvel at the myriad tweaks that subtly improve its appeal across skill levels, such as smart steering for novices and extra drift boost for veterans.

None of these enhancements amount to much by themselves and, bar Battle mode, the core game remains more or less the same as the 2014 version.

But the real star of the show is the Switch itself, which enables not only crisper visuals but a multitude of ways to play. That comprises not just Switch's portability, but its pleasing array of multiplayer options. A single console can host up to four players in split screen, while the JoyCon controllers, small as they are, work perfectly for two players on the Switch's own screen. Then there's a host of local and online multiplayer modes that work as seamlessly as always.

So brilliant yet lazy, advanced yet retro, joyful yet disappointing - that is MK8 in a nutshell.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Ep 1

(PS4/XO/PC) 4 stars Age: 15+

Just in time for the film sequel comes this Telltale spin-off from the original comic book. The mechanics remain familiar - branching dialogue, brief action sequences and a lot of passive listening to plot exposition.

But this might be the most polished Telltale effort yet, gloriously soundtracked by a handful of 1970s rock classics by the likes of ELO and Buzzcocks. The opening episode of this five-part series focuses on the back story of Star Lord, teeing up the rest of the misfits for subsequent chunks.

Narratively, it leans rather heavily on an anodyne McGuffin - a magic relic that loosens the bonds of time - but really it's the bitchy interaction of the kooky cast that earns GoTG its stripes.

Tethered

(PS4/PSVR/PC), 3 Stars, Age: 12+

Virtual reality feels tailor-made for god games, in which you manipulate tiny characters for their own betterment. Tethered can be played without VR but it's a somewhat limp experience.

Once you don a headset, however, the slow-paced strategy makes much more sense. You can pull and push the pretty dioramas around while guiding your little Gremlin-like critters to farm, mine and build.

The control system comes a little unstuck as the levels throw in multiple critters, enemies and competing goals. But it's the unusual viewpoint that sells Tethered.

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