The latest set of eight new courses for Mario Kart 8 includes not only a new character but a brand new track inspired by Yoshi’s Island.
It’s already been made clear that the Mario Kart 8 Booster Course Pass is not a quick cash grab. It’s very reasonably priced for the amount of tracks you get and there’s certainly nothing quick about it, since the sixth and final pack of DLC won’t be released until the end of this year. This is the first one of 2023 and rather than running out of steam it has more new content than ever before.
Wave 1 of the pass started last March, followed by Wave 2 in August, and Wave 3 in December, which gives a good indication of when the last two will be released this year. This Wave is unusual though, in that six of the eight tracks either originated in mobile game Mario Kart Tour or have already been remastered for it.
We don’t think anyone would’ve been rioting in the street if Nintendo had just carried on regardless but to compensate they’ve not only added a new playable character, in the form of Birdo (with a promise of more to come), but one of the courses is completely new for this wave of the DLC.
Although the game no longer makes it clear, there are still weight classes in Mario Kart 8, with Birdo being a medium. It makes little difference though and all the characters are largely cosmetic, with Birdo available in several different colours – just like Yoshi. It’s still a welcome extra though and while she might not make much practical difference her little squeaks and beeps are awfully cute.
As usual, each cup starts with a Mario Kart Tour track based on a real-world city and Amsterdam Drift is where you start off in the Fruit Cup. Regular fans may sneer at the mobile game, and with its simplified controls and grotesque microtransactions it’s not hard to understand why, but the tracks are generally very good and, as usual, the Mario Kart 8 version is substantially enhanced over the original, in terms of visuals and design.
As you’d imagine, the course is full of windmills and trams, with an early section being reminiscent of Moo Moo Farm, before taking a detour into the city centre and then diving into the canals. As is usual for the city courses, the track changes substantially in the second and third laps, with a different canal layout and a fun little section with tulips on both sides that’s oddly reminiscent of OutRun.
Next up is Riverside Park from the Game Boy Advance game Mario Kart: Super Circuit, which has had a very impressive makeover, such that you’d never guess that it was originally designed for a 16-bit system. The remake first debuted in Mario Kart Tour and so did the one for DK’s Snowboard Cross (aka DK Summit), which is a fun snow-bound track with lots of jumps and snow drifts – its only flaw being that it can’t help but remind you of the superior Mount Wario from Mario Kart 8 itself.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 4 track list
Amsterdam Drift (Mario Kart Tour)
Riverside Park (Mario Kart: Super Circuit)
DK’s Snowboard Cross (Mario Kart Wii)
Yoshi’s Island (new)
Bangkok Rush (Mario Kart Tour)
Mario Circuit (Mario Kart DS)
Waluigi Stadium (Mario Kart: Double Dash!!)
Singapore Speedway (Mario Kart Tour)
The Fruit Cup ends with the brand new course: Yoshi’s Island. Perhaps it’ll end up in Mario Kart Tour at some point but for now this is the only place you can play this unexpected homage to Super Mario World 2. It doesn’t replicate the hand-drawn art style of that game, but it does everything else it can to stuff the track with familiar landmarks and a host of obstacles and background characters that aren’t found anywhere else in Mario Kart 8, including Shy Guys on stilts, Goonie birds, a family of Huffin Puffins, and a giant Nep-Enut moving around in the water.
The course isn’t just fan service though as it uses some of the unique elements of the game to create unusual features such as a floating ? cloud which is tricky to hit when you’re in the air, but which manifests a special track if you do, that then gives you the chance to jump through the flower ring that always ended levels in the original game. There’s lots of other neat details too, including unique coins for just this course and a fantastic new music track.
The Boomerang Cup starts with Bangkok Rush, which is another fun city romp, starting with you jumping over river boats and then dashing into a hotel multi-storey carpark before jumping down onto a sea of market stalls whose rooftops work like trampolines.
Mario Circuit from Mario Kart DS is perhaps the least exciting addition, as it’s very similar to other courses from the series that are based around Peach’s Castle. Waluigi Stadium, from Double Dash on the GameCube is a lot more complex and interesting though, with plenty of fire obstacles, ramps, and an elevated area that’s very hard to get onto. It’s also the only one of the retro courses not to have been remastered for Mario Kart Tour yet, with Mario Circuit having been added just this week.
The final course of the cup, and this wave of DLC, is Singapore Speedway, which already exists in Mario Kart Tour but is an enjoyable aerial course, with a lot of flying and some sections suspended high in the air, that almost make it look and feel like something out of F-Zero.
The only faults with this DLC pack are the same ones that have been present for the whole of the Booster Pass: the new, cartoonish art style and the lack of any anti-gravity features. As the pass has gone on it’s become more obvious why, with the new art style borrowed from Mario Kart Tour meaning it would’ve been a lot of effort to convert it to the more realistic Mario Kart 8 look.
Likewise, adding in anti-gravity sections, that Mario Kart Tour can’t use, would have involved a considerable amount of work and Nintendo’s generosity only goes so far. It is a shame though, to leave out Mario Kart 8’s most unique selling point, and while the art style is far from ugly it doesn’t really suit the attempts to portray real world cities.
Whether Nintendo intendeds to reuse it for the inevitable Mario Kart 9 is impossible to say, but perhaps there might be some hint as to their future plans once the Booster Pass finally ends. Knowing Nintendo, they’ll more likely keep their secrets to the last moment but it really doesn’t matter because combined with all this DLC it’s difficult to imagine how anything could better Mario Kart 8.
Formats: Nintendo Switch
Price: £24.99 for all 48 tracks or free with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 9th March 2023
Age Rating: 3
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