After many rumors kept circulating around the Internet that Nintendo would soon reveal Mario Kart 9, the announcement that a gigantic DLC package containing eight new cups and forty-eight new courses would be coming to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe definitely came as a surprise to many, myself included. After all, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is nearly over 5 years old at this point, perhaps 8 if you count from the Wii U version’s release date.
Since only two out of the eight cups have been released, we will be going through them in this review. Starting off the DLC course pack is the Golden Dash cup, adorned by the Golden Dash Mushroom (which I definitely just called the King Mushroom when I was kid, but anyway…). The cup contains four courses: Paris Promenade from Mario Kart Tour, Choco Mountain from the Nintendo 64, Toad Circuit from the 3DS, and ends off with the iconic Coconut Mall from the Wii.
Now, out of these courses, Paris Promenade and Coconut Mall stood out to me. The former being that I never played the mobile game, so I had no idea what to expect from the course, and the fact that the route slightly changes every lap definitely wasn’t something I expected. It was also stunning to go through the visual landscapes of Paris. As for the latter, well, it’s simply pure nostalgia, because Coconut Mall was one of my most favorite courses back on the Wii, and I immediately started humming along to the song as I raced, because that one is straight-up one of the best soundtracks ever.
Toad Circuit is definitely the worst out of the bunch here, because that course was never particularly appealing in Mario Kart 7. It’s just…so unoriginal, and it feels bland. Honestly, I don’t remember liking that course back in Mario Kart 7, and that definitely did not change here, especially since no anti-gravity spots were thrown-in to add some pizzazz to it. Choco Mountain is…alright, but not exactly as memorable as the other two I previously talked about.
Now, let us go to the next cup: The Lucky Cat Cup, which features the rather unique Cat Bell item from Super Mario 3D World. This one contains the following: Tokyo Blur from Mario Kart: Tour, Shroom Ridge from the DS, Sky Garden from the GBA, and finally ends off with Ninja Hideaway, and it isn’t stated outright, it is also from Mario Kart Tour.
So, this has to be one of the cups that seem to have the least amount of polish put into them, or at least, less than the Golden Dash Cup. Starting off, we got Tokyo Blur, which like Paris Promenade, features the same “route is different every lap” mechanic. But compared to the previous course, the textures in this one feel…odd. As if they didn’t bother upscaling them from mobile, with some elements, like the “WELCOME TO TOKYO!” LED sign looking rather blurry.
Shroom Ridge also suffers the same fate, as it’s essentially identical to Toad’s Turnpike…sans the trucks and at daytime. Yeah. Pretty much all the cars you will see are the same models from the ones on Toad’s Turnpike, which, okay, while it isn’t a bad thing per se, the fact is that it feels very copy-pasted, which kind of makes me wonder if they just took the Toad Turnpike map, made it day, took off the trucks, and bada-bing bada-boom, the course is done.
I’ll have to skip on Sky Garden, simply because there’s not much to talk about it. It’s a garden, in the sky. So let’s move on to the rather confusing Ninja Hideaway, which is listed in the game as “original”, because there’s no text saying it is from another system, but fans were quick to point out it’s from Tour, with the Mario Wiki even making that clear. Ninja Hideaway is SUPER fun. From the tons of shortcuts you can take, to the crazy routes, this one definitely stands out from the rest of the courses in this cup.
The Booster Course DLC looks very promising so far, but the thing that worries me the most is the lack of polish in some of the courses. While I still had tons of fun playing those courses both alone and locally with friends, it’s still a bit concerning, especially given that there are still six cups left to be released. The complete lack of anti-gravity in all of these was also really underwhelming. I sincerely hope Nintendo puts a bit more polish into the presentation for the future cups, if their plans are to keep us busy and entertained while Mario Kart 9 is in development.
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