Be warned, some Mario Kart 8 Deluxe spoilers lay ahead.
I love Mario Kart. Kart racing in general, actually. From oldies like the Muppet’s RaceMania and Diddy Kong Racing to more modern titles like Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled and Sonic & All Stars Racing Transformed. Stick some mascots in cars and I am there, and I will play and unlock everything humanly possible. It’s a curse, or a blessing, depending on who you ask.
So after 5 years of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch, after unlocking Gold Mario and the golden kart parts, arrived the announcement that 48 more tracks were to arrive over the next year and a half. It was a shock to say the least, considering they were doubling the track count, a shock that I loved wholeheartedly, mind you.
The rollout of CTR: Nitro Fuelled tracks and characters kept that game alive, and I was hyped for the new content that was added to that game at every opportunity. The new Mario Kart DLC has the capability of being the same, I hope, the only stimulation is that it’s about 3 or 4 years too late.
It’s well known at this point that all these tracks are enhanced ports from Mario Kart Tour, and being honest, that doesn’t phase me all too much. This first wave, in my opinion, was great and the tracks were (mostly) fun to play and experience. My only gripe is the lack of zero gravity on all the tracks, but we’ve got another 40 to hopefully fix that going into the future. But honestly, those turns on Coconut Mall scream for Zero G going up the walls. It would make the track flow so much better in my humble opinion.
The tracks themselves in the first wave are a bit of a mixed bag. For me, Paris Promenade (Tour), Choco Mountain (N64), Coconut Mall (Wii), Shroom Ridge (DS) and Ninja Hideaway (Tour) are the highlights of this wave. Those two Tour tracks in particular are excellent, the latter has so many vertical options for completing a lap that the course feels like a different experience every time you play. While the Paris track flips things on its head in the last lap, having you drive the course backwards into oncoming racers (should you be far enough ahead).
Coconut Mall is a faithful remake, bar the end section, where the cars no longer move, instead being static Shy Guy-manned randomly placed obstacles that barely get in your way. There’s also no Mii’s anymore, but everyone moaning about that needs to realise Mii’s are old news, and they’re going to be phased out eventually. I’m sorry to break it to you. I do miss the escalators as well, but Tour remakes be Tour remakes I suppose.
Choco Mountain and Shroom Ridge are also solid, with Shroom Ridge being a great drifting track, that is a massive improvement on the base game’s Toad’s Turnpike (which may be the least fun track in the game).
Below that, you’ve got Toad Circuit (3DS), Tokyo Blur (Tour) and Sky Garden (GBA). None of these tracks are bad, just lacking. Toad Circuit gets a bad rap for being basic, but it is the first course on Mario Kart 7. On 200cc the track is so fun to drift around, but it suffers from early game syndrome. But, who cares, if every track was Rainbow Road, your family would never want to play drunk at Christmas and you’d be stuck watching the Queen’s Speech. These are the tracks your Mum and Dad like to play with motion controls on.
Tokyo Blur’s gimmick of using all your variants is fun, but the changes from lap to lap feel more like moving the objects in your living room a couple of inches to the left instead of completely renovating, making things feel slightly off and confusing rather than exciting and new.
There has been a lot of discourse about the graphics, but if the rumours are to be believed that a MK9/10 is in development, the likelihood is that this is a skeleton crew hired to tick over the fans until the next game comes out. The graphics are fine, let’s not endorse crunch culture in game development even more and be happy with what we’ve got. It’s less than 50 pence a track, s’all good. And anyway, Paris Promenade and Ninja Hideaway actually look great!
Overall though, it’s a good start, and the tracks are only going to get more exciting from here on out. We’re going to get most (if not all) of the Tour city tracks, but I’d love to see:
- DK Mountain ❤️
- Waluigi’s Pinball
- Mushroom Gorge
- Maka Wuhu
- Maple Treeway
- Koopa Cape
- Wario Colosseum
- Toad’s Factory
- Daisy Cruiser
The Double Dash and Wii bias aside, these are great courses that would bring a lot to the game and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next!
U-Turing back to the CTR route, I’d love another pass that comes out in tandem with new courses that bring more characters and kart parts to the game.
Tour has a vast array of costumes and characters that could really boost the replayability of MK8D, as well as improving a universally panned character roster. I’m looking at you Tanooki Mario, Pink Gold Peach and Baby Rosalina. Bringing over Pauline, Birdo, Diddy, King Bob-omb or Funky would do well to remedy that, alongside freeing them from the shackles of a gacha game.
There are hints at other racers, such as the Honey Queen Racer Lemonade poster on Coconut Mall, but whether this is just a reference or a future path the game will go down, only time will tell.
I just want to end on the fact that these new tracks are being developed by Bandai Namco, the geniuses who created the Mario Kart Arcade series. So if they wanted to bring over some tracks from those games, or Pac-Man, Don-chan or a literal Tamagotchi, I don’t think I’d complain about anything ever again. Some data mining has shown that some courses have ‘???’ as their origin platform, so it could happen, but will it? Probably not, but I’d love to be living in that timeline.
Also, what’s the deal with not having Wario’s bike in the game yet? It’s in Smash Bros!