The third set of eight new programs for Mario Kart 8 includes a seasonal favourite, a track set in London, and the spooky Boo Lake.
Mario Kart 8 will be eight years old next May, but even by then the Booster Course Pass still won’t be complete. This is the third of the six planned waves of new DLC, which should last up until this time next year. At that point, who knows what the future of the franchise, or the Nintendo Switch, will be but Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will almost certainly still be the best-selling game on the system and these new track packs are only making it better.
Wave 1 was released in March and Wave 2 in August, which probably gives a good idea of how things will work next year. They’ve both been well received, even though the only genuinely new tracks are those debuting in Mario Kart 8 but ultimately destined for mobile game Mario Kart Tour. The rest are all remakes of existing courses from the franchise’s long history (it turned 30 this June, to add to the long list of major anniversaries Nintendo has completely ignored recently).
There have been two main criticisms of the Booster Courses, the first being that the mobile game’s simplified art style has been used for the remade courses, which isn’t nearly as visually appealing. Nintendo does seem to have performed a U-turn on that, after fans made their displeasure known, and in this wave the Boo Lake course, in particular, looks just as good as the ones in the parent game.
The other complaint is that none of the courses make any use of the anti-gravity feature that, in the main game, have the tracks going upside down or folding up into the air, Inception style. There’s still none of that in this new wave of tracks, unfortunately, which is baffling really, other than we guess those features are difficult to implement and Nintendo didn’t have the time? It’s a real shame, but as the courses work out at around 50p each it’s hard to feel that you’ve been short-changed.
This is especially true given a) the volume of new tracks and b) the fact that they’re all so good, even and especially the Mario Kart Tour ones. This new wave starts off with London Loop and while it would’ve been nice if it was rendered in a more detailed graphical style it manages to be very evocative of the real city, with not just the obvious landmarks, including Tower Bridge which opens up mid-course, but modern skyscrapers, Tube stops, and double-decker buses.
As with most of the Tour courses the track changes fairly radically after the first lap, which traditional Mario Kart courses usually don’t, and manages to keep things interesting even when it’s obvious the twists and turns of the tracks have been designed for simpler, touchscreen inputs.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 3 track list
Berlin Byways (Mario Kart Tour)
Peach Gardens (Mario Kart DS)
Merry Mountain (Mario Kart Tour)
Rainbow Road (Mario Kart 7)
London Loop (Mario Kart Tour)
Boo Lake (Mario Kart: Super Circuit)
Alpine Pass (Mario Kart 7)
Maple Treeway (Mario Kart Wii)
Berlin Byways is similarly good, with a bizarre use of Thwomps who are hiding, camouflaged, amongst the remains of the Berlin Wall, ready to fall on unsuspecting drivers. The course includes ordinary traffic that you have to avoid, which we always enjoy in Mario Kart, with the final lap having you drive head-on into oncoming taxis and what look very much like BMWs.
Unlike the other waves of DLC there is no track that hasn’t been in Tour yet, as Merry Mountain was added in 2020, as the first course for the game that wasn’t based on a real-world city. It’s a nice looking design, with a great Christmas atmosphere as a train flies around on invisible tracks, but unlike the others it doesn’t change substantially between laps, which is a shame.
Unlike the previous waves, the final course is a remake of the 3DS version of Rainbow Road, which is arguably the best incarnation ever. Influenced by the then recent Super Mario Galaxy it twists and turns in impossible ways, without the need for anti-gravity, and instead of being split up into laps there are three clear segments of the race, with the middle one having you drive around the rings of Saturn and fall through the road to bump across the surface of the moon.
The conspiratorially minded will wonder whether it’s a coincidence that his particular course became the focus of the wave just days after the new Super Mario Bros. Movie featured Rainbow Road so prominently, but if watching that made you ache for some Mario Kart action then this will scratch that itch very well.
Rainbow Road isn’t even necessarily the best remake in the set, as we really like what they’ve done to Boo Lake from the Game Boy Advance. The haunted house courses were a big part of the series in the early days but have been all but ignored in the 3D era. This one is great though, with half of the course, which seems to be a shipwreck haunted by skeletal fish, underwater and some great lighting and water effects.
The other courses are less unique but they’re still good value, with a fun turbo boost filled climb up Alpine Pass, the impressively varied Maple Treeway from Mario Kart Wii, and the maze-like Peach Gardens, which despite being the most twee racing course on the planet is deceptively tricky and suddenly switches to a reverse track in the final lap.
On top of this you can now customise the items that are used in offline multiplayer races and some online modes, although that’s not part of the Booster Course Pass and is available as a free update to everyone. This allows you to remove items completely, if you so wish, or restrict specific items to certain teams, if you feel they need more or less help than usual.
As far as the paid-for DLC goes, there’s not a dud course here and while it’s still odd that none of them really have anything to do with Mario Kart 8, they’re still just as much fun to play and represent great value for money. Given the DLC schedule is only now at its halfway point there’s at least a year to go before we get any sign of Mario Kart 9 but these, and the other courses to come, should keep you happily entertained until then.
Formats: Nintendo Switch
Price: £24.99 for all 48 tracks or free with Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack
Developer: Nintendo EAD
Release Date: 7th December 2022
Age Rating: 3
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