Mario Kart in 4K shows we really need a Nintendo Switch Pro

mario kart 8 deluxe
(Image credit: Nintendo)

The Nintendo Switch Pro, from what tidbits of information we’ve seen so far, promises to be a console capable of delivering 4K resolution Nintendo gaming. And we've just got a taste of what that could look like.  

That’s because YouTuber SnazzyAI has managed to get Mario Kart 8 Deluxe running at 4K, a significant boost of the 1080p resolution the racing game runs at when the Nintendo Switch is docked. Snazzy AI has done this through the use of upscaling. 

By using AI to add in extra details into a frame, upscaling allows for a game to be boosted up from 1080p to 4K. 

Usually, when a 1080p image is displayed on a 4K display, that lower resolution is stretched across six million additional pixels. Because of this, the image can lose clarity and detail, looking fuzzier and washed out. Though it’s worth noting that some TVs have impressive upscalers that can mitigate such problems. Regardless, it's always better to have a 4K image (either native or through checkerboard rendering) at the source feeding into an ultra high-resolution display. 

Using upscaling in a game like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, with its cartoon art style, works particularly well. This is because the AI doesn't have to deal with too many complex textures. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is flush with effects, but not so much granular detail. 

"The cartoony graphics of Mario Kart perfectly matched with the AI upscaler as it didn't have to worry about adding detail to the textures and could focus purely on increasing the pixels, smoothing out the edges, and maintaining the original look, while also making it sharper,” SnazzyAI told Nintendo Life

While Mario Kart 8 Deluxe looked fantastic on the current Switch thanks to its frenetic action and effects, seeing it in 4K is undeniably impressive. It delivers a 4K at 60 frames per second image that looks sharp and clean. 

And this makes us excited for the rumored Switch Pro. While we don’t know for sure if it will be able to natively run some of the best Nintendo Switch games at 4K, the rumors point towards it delivering a 4K experience. 

Although, it should be noted that since Mario Kart 8 was originally released on Wii U back in 2014, it can run on the CEMU emulator via PC. Those with powerful rigs have been able to natively play the Wii U version of Mario Kart 8 in 4K for years now, and just like the AI upscaled video above, it looks equally, if not more, stunning.

As for the Switch Pro, we suspect it could do this through some form of upscaler, potentially built into a revised dock for the console, which could hold a processor dedicated to upmix a 1080p or 1440p game into 4K. And we’d be particularly keen to see how an upscaled The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would look like, given it only has a 900p resolution when docked. But this game too, since it was released on Wii U, can also be played in 4K with Ray tracing via the CEMU emulator. 

Of course, this is all speculation. There's no official word that Nintendo is working on a Switch Pro. But we’re cautiously optimistic the company has something in the works and that we might see it towards the end of the year. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.