A guide to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s battle modes

One of the Nintendo Switch’s most in-demand launch games arrives this week. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is poised to remind us all why Mario Kart is so wonderful. Those who already played Mario Kart 8 and know how good it is may be wondering what could possibly happen with this version to make it so “deluxe.” Part of it has to do with this including all of the DLC from the Wii U iteration, as well as a few extra characters and vehicle options and the ability to hold two items at once. The biggest deal is an all-new group of Battle Modes for people to enjoy.

The Battle option itself isn’t anything original. When Super Mario Kart kicked the series off on the Super Nintendo, it brought with it Balloon Battle. While that version only allowed two people to fight it out on a map, subsequent installments have expanded the potential player count and options. Mario Kart 8 took a step back. It limited its Battles to courses, rather than arenas, and only offered Balloon Battle. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remedies that by bringing back every possible Battle mode ever, as well as a new one.

Balloon Battle

Balloon Battle is the classic Mario Kart Battle mode. As I mentioned earlier, it debuted in 1992 in Super Mario Kart. Back then, people had three balloons they needed to preserve while hunting down other players to pop theirs. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s take refines the feature to make losing your balloons a little less devastating.

Here, each Balloon Battle player begins with five balloons. Your goal is, as usual, to save your balloons while popping others. Items will appear on the field to use as tools; you must use them and your driving skills to defeat others. Points are awarded for popping balloons. However, having your own popped isn’t the end. Should you lose all five, your score will be cut in half and you’ll revive with three balloons attached to your vehicle.

This makes Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Balloon Battle players more options as they play. You can go full kamikaze and race out onto the field, hoping to hurt as many other people as possible before being taken out. You can also play it safe, collecting a tidy sum of points and attempting to hide out to preserve your standing. The latter is more viable in maps like Luigi’s Mansion, while the former is best for a place like Battle Course 1.

Bob-omb Blast

A Bob-omb Blast match is a Balloon Battle fight with only Bob-ombs. It previously appeared in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! back in 2003 and hasn’t been in a Mario Kart since. Every item box is filled with Bob-ombs and you can hold up to ten at a time. Explosions are plentiful, each with colors tied to the balloon color assigned to every participant so you know whose bombs are going off. (There will also be an on-screen notification letting you know who has blown you up and who you have blown up.) It is more aggressive and unforgiving version of Balloon Battle, since it follows the exact scoring and respawning rules.

Bob-omb Blast is a great Battle mode for Urchin Underpass. The number of paths going over and under the arena offer an opportunity for a smart player to wait on top of a ramp or lurk under a bridge to bomb people passing by.

Coin Runners

Mario Kart Wii introduced the world to Coin Runners in 2008. This mode only appeared there and in Mario Kart 7 since its debut. Your goal here is to collect as many coins as you possibly can. Your standing at the end of the match will be determined by how many you managed to procure. Every player will have a stack of coins above their head, so you have an idea of who you should be targeting. Basically, you want to spend all your time collecting the respawning coins on the map and ramming into other people so you can tap into their hoard.

Since there’s no cap on how many coins can be collected in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s Coin Runners, I recommend trying to hover around ten coins. You want to be at a point where you can swoop in for a win at the end of a round, but not make yourself an attractive target by having that telltale crown showing you’re on top. I like Lunar Colony and Wuhu Town for Coin Runners, as you can easily remember where spawn points are and take advantage of that to add to your collection.

Renegade Roundup

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe introduces one new kind of Battle mode: Renegade Roundup. In this match, everyone is divided up and placed on a Red Team or Blue Team. One team will have Piranha Plants on their car and be the designated Authorities. Their job is to capture Renegades, the players who don’t have Piranha Plants. To capture someone, you just need to catch up to them so your plant can eat them. This sends them to a jail on the map. Renegades need to keep trying to get away, as well as visit the arena’s jail cells to set their captured brethren free. If Authorities capture all Renegades, the round ends and they win. Should at least one Renegade remain free and run out the clock, the Renegades win.

With Renegade Roundup, your arena can really help make or break your case. Battle Course 1 and Sweet Sweet Kingdom are fantastic if you’re an Authority, because they have layouts where it’s easy to see everything and paths turn back into themselves. Renegades will want to hope for something like Luigi’s Mansion or Urchin Underpass, where you can zip around and take the different routes to lose your pursuers.

Shine Thief

Shine Thief is another Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Battle mode reappearing in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. (Don’t get it confused with Shine Runners, which only appeared in Mario Kart DS!) Your goal here is to get the Shine Sprite and hold it for 20 seconds. If you can do that, you win. But, time resets if someone else grabs it by ramming into you or hitting you with items and taking it. At the end of the match, you also get points for having held it at all for any length of time. You need to be slick when you have the Shrine Sprite, since it will weigh you down and cause you to travel slower than the other people in the arena.

In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Luigi’s Mansion is basically the map for Shine Thief. There are so many twisting, turning passages and levels that someone can very easily snag that shiny treasure, dash away and run out the clock with evasive manuevers.

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