video games

Some Thoughts on Wave 1 of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC

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.

An example of A CTR road map. Nina is also the best character in this game, don’t @ me.

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!

5 more waves to go!

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!

video games

Nostalgia Trips: From Blastoise to Bakura

So, I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick recently. I purchased an old Gameboy Advance SP with a copy of Pokémon Fire Red and journeyed through Kanto just as I did as a whippersnapper. With Squirtle by my side I bossed the elite four and captured all the legendaries. Signed, sealed, delivered.

The experience was brought on by playing the newer Pokémon Sword and being disappointed with not only the dire selection of Pokémon available in the base game, but the storytelling and the lifelessness of the 3D monsters on the screen of the decently powerful Nintendo Switch.

I always found the 2D games so expressive with their fantastic sprite artwork.

photoset pokemon Squirtle Sprite blastoise wartortle pokemongifs  TwilightBlaze steelix •

Take Blastoise for example:

How did we go from all that expression in Pokémon Crystal – cannons pointed, snarling and ready for battle to, look at me, I’m standing.

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I’ve never understood why everyone just assumes that 3D animation has more worth than 2D animation. Nothing beats the hand drawn storytelling of a Studio Ghibli masterpiece a-la Kiki’s Delivery Service or My Neighbour Totoro, or Disney Classics like The Jungle Book and Treasure Planet.

One of these is full of creativity, colour and expression. Everything that animation stands for. The other is the cash grab remake of The Lion King. Looking at it closely, I think it would make a great advert for Compare the Meerkat.

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3 Reasons Why We Didn't Love “The Lion King” (and 1 Reason We Did) -  AllEars.Net

It makes the game feel so boring, especially when you compare it to the dynamic worlds of Mario Odyssey and the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the same system. It makes Game Freak look so lazy and devoid of ideas for the franchise.

Hell, the main gimmick was making the Pokémon ‘bigger’.

After my Kantonian adventure drew to a close in the Sevii Islands, my mind began to wander about other old video games that had been banished to the depths of my childhood memory.

I had been enjoying the early Pokémon games with a few staff members at work and collectively discussed that Yu-Gi-Oh was the next in the line of franchises we’d all played.

I recalled a gem called Yu-Gi-Oh: Forbidden Memories on the Playstation 1 that I had played to death as a child. Played the same levels over and over again at least as I didn’t really understand save mechanics, and the furthest I had gotten was to Yami Bakura – anime bad guy and owner of the Millennium Ring. For those unaware, that’s probably just before the middle of the game.

Frustrated at my lack of PS1 ownership and unwilling to part with the money to begrudgingly purchase one, my quest led me to the sprawling pages of google search.

Did you know that PS1 games are backwards compatible on PS3s? All of them. The console even has a feature where you can create memory cards inside the system itself. I know people probably found this out years ago, but wow. Made my day. The first generation of PS3s could also play PS2 games, but they cut that function out to reduce costs (boo).

A quick order from CeX later, and Forbidden Memories was mine again.

It was just as difficult as I could remember, and just as addicting.

Great cover art as well

Also, the soundtrack on this game absolutely bops. Especially the ‘Free Duel’ music, which is a blessing because the grind required to complete this bloody game is actually insane. I have defeated the Meadow Mage over 60 times, have I received the Meteor B. Dragon card you literally NEED to beat the game? I have not. But I can turn the stage into a field multiple times during the game, so that’s great.

The game is everything I can remember and more. The duels are intense and require the right tactics to defeat each duellist, the game is difficult but beatable (up until the late game) and the story is actually great – telling the story of how the Egyptian Spirit Yami came to be trapped in the Millennium Puzzle in the first place.

I had put a fair few hours into the game and came back to my nemesis, my arch-rival, Yami Bakura. I tried about 10 times between rounds of grinding, and still his Millennium Shield was victorious with its staggering 3000 points of defence. I was down and out, dominated by this man and his demonic stare.

I hate this screen

It was then that my girlfriend asked for a turn. I scoffed, presented her with the remote and a wry smile. She defeated him on the first try. I had waited 16 years for this moment, but for me, this was no victory.

The worst part of it all, I defeated Pegasus first time. I went back into free duel with renewed belief and lost to Bakura, again.

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I returned to Ancient Egypt on my save file and defeated all the mages that assisted in my demise in the first place. But, what awaits me is an onslaught of battles with no save point. I have beaten the Labyrinth Mage, but following that only the game over screen.

I’ll need to do some more grinding before I resume my adventure, but It’s been such a good time revisiting a game that I had loved so much as a child. Anyway, it got me thinking… While common pastimes (such as travel and seeing friends) have become so difficult, we can delve into our childhoods and reclaim the things we lost growing up.

I don’t think I’ll ever sell this game, in fact it’s one that I’d love to share with my future children because it gave me so many good memories at that age.

My only wish is that I could stab the moon with my stone guardian and defeat Heishin that way, but I don’t think the TV show actually follows the same rules as the card game.


Maybe I’ll play one of the more recent Yu-Gi-Oh titles, but it seems like they’re going down the same overcomplicated route that Pokémon is.

In an age where loot boxes, pay to win titles and EA are trying their hardest to ruin the video game industry – at least we’ve still got the classics, and that, nobody can take away from us.