I've been playing Mario Kart since its inception on the SNES back in 1992. Perhaps that dates me a little bit, but don't be fooled: this old dog is a gamer and can still hang with the best of them. I've played almost every iteration of Kart pretty obsessively with the exception of just a few, so my experience with this franchise is quite extensive.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was simply great, right out of the starting gate. Our family purchased a Wii U a little bit late in its production cycle, and as such we started playing Mario Kart 8 only very recently. We went through most challenges of the game and unlocked just about everything that is unlockable. Shortly after that, we purchased our Switch. The first game we bought was Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, many of the unlockable rewards from Mario Kart 8 are already unlocked. Some may find this to be a treat, especially if coming from Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U where they don't want to be bothered to go through those challenges again. For others, particularly those who are new to Mario Kart 8 in general, that might leave the game a little bit unfulfilling. I'm somewhere in the middle of these two camps, as I feel that while even though the game is "largely similar" it does have enough differences that -- to me -- constitute the need for starting the game at the same baseline as the Mario Kart 8 edition from Wii U and then being required to unlock everything again. You do still need to unlock many of the vehicle customizations, though.
All that said, the characters, available bikes and karts, and all of the attributes of the various vehicles really showcase the depth and thought process that went into the driving aspects of Mario Kart 8. It's really quite unlike any Mario Kart game before it. I find it intriguing to see how people use the different combinations of characters, bikes/karts, tires, and gliders to create their ultimate racer. Back in the days of the original Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart 64, you simply didn't have anything like that available.
Interesting tidbit about the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe vehicles: changing your Mii in the Nintendo Switch console changes the available attributes of the vehicle that you can use when you choose your Mii character as a racer when you're in the vehicle selection screen. I'm a tall and thinner build in "real life" but my Mii character on the Nintendo Switch console has a different body type because I want my Mario Kart vehicle to drive a certain way. Through a bit of trial and error, with which I am still experimenting, I have been able to create the ideal vehicle for me. Give it a shot!
The online racing feature is greatly improved since the original Wii days. That is great to see. Nintendo has done a really nice job of making the online racing accessible, and I would venture a guess that more people are trying online racing (and online gaming in general) for the first time with this version of the game than in any Mario Kart titles prior to this one.
The new tracks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are absolutely TONS of fun. There is a nice range of very simple to very challenging. I don't know how the developers continue to reinvent the wheel regarding the multitude of great new tracks over the years, but they somehow do every time. The retro tracks are pretty cool to see, too. The one thing with the retro tracks is that they aren't particularly "true" to the originals. While there might be many similarities, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe takes those tracks and adds many new spins on them. For those of us who remember those original tracks, that can be seen as a little bit of a surprise, as the tracks simply do not drive the same with all the new features. Still, though, it's pretty awesome that they recognized some of the classics and brought them into the mix with this newest version of Mario Kart. The Excitebike homage track was pretty darn cool, too.
Considering that there have been so many releases of this game, it's amazing to see that the developers have been able to keep it fresh and innovative after 20-plus years. This game delivers on all of that and then some. I highly recommend this game for anyone who loves fun racing games, and/or is a Mario Kart aficionado. You simply will not be disappointed.