Nintendo has released the first eight of the upcoming 48 new tracks Mario Kart 8 Deluxe as part of its Booster Course Pass DLC. It’s an ambitious exit strategy that will eventually double the number of courses in the game to an impressive 96 in total by the end of next year. Nintendo may not refer to these new releases as Mario Kart 9but five years after the release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe— and nearly eight years later Mario Kart 8 originally debuted on the Wii U – it’s hard not to hope that they could actually serve as a sequel.
Although new to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, none of these songs are new. Much like about half of the game’s original 48 courses, these are remasters of previous Mario Kart games. There’s one from his Nintendo 64, Wii, GBA, DS, and 3DS entries, and three from Mario Kart Tour, the free smartphone entry to the series developed by DeNA.
Although there are many new tracks on the way, the fundamentals of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe remain unchanged from 2017. The new courses are seamlessly integrated into the existing interface, allowing you to scroll through the selection screen to reveal what will ultimately be 12 new cups to race through, each with four locations each. For now, only the first two cups are available – the Golden Dash Cup and the Lucky Cat Cup. But beyond the new courses, Nintendo hasn’t announced any other additions to the game along the way. There are no new characters, karts, or faster racing speeds like we saw with Mario Kart 8downloadable content from on the Wii U.
If you approach this new DLC expecting it to replace a numbered new entry in the series, I think you’ll be disappointed, and given that the entire 48-track collection is only $24.99 compared to the $59.99 Nintendo continues to charge Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, you probably shouldn’t expect it. But still, it’s hard not to play these initial eight courses and notice that they don’t reach the same heights as the original game. There’s nothing to match the scale of Shy Guy Falls or Mario Kart 8Rainbow Road, the variety of Mount Wario, the spectacle of Electrodome or the breathtaking three-dimensionality of Mario Circuit.
More than the remastered tracks found in the original Mario Kart 8 – which augmented their original designs with things like anti-gravity and underwater driving new entries – these eight new additions feel very true to the courses they’re based on. You won’t suddenly find yourself climbing a 90-degree angle thanks to the anti-gravity pads on the Nintendo 64’s Choco Mountain or diving underwater in the Wii’s Coconut Mall.
This fidelity extends to the look of these new areas, which aren’t as detailed as the remasters Nintendo delivered in the original game. For example, Ribbon Road and Sky Garden are the two courses that originally appeared on the Game Boy Advance, but the former was delivered as one of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s stock tracks, while the latter was released last week as part of this new DLC. None of them seem to date back to a two-decade-old portable system, but the new Sky Garden just isn’t packed with details like Ribbon Road. It’s almost as if one has been completely redone, while the other has undergone a simpler remaster.
That’s not to say there aren’t more subtle delights to be found here. Paris Promenade (a track originally released for Mario Kart Tour) has quickly become one of my new favorites, serenading you with an accordion as you glide around the course. And on its third lap, it sends you back on your own to race the course in the opposite direction, which inevitably results in a few frenetic seconds where other racers suddenly become oncoming vehicles.
Ninja Hideaway (also from Tower) is another highlight, with a dual-layered design that gives you the choice of running through the building’s ground floor or rafters. The ground floor is simpler, but the rafters have the potential to offer respite from the chaos erupting below, as well as the risk of unceremoniously collapsing when you lose your footing around one of its many bends. at precarious right angles. I love the energetic soundtrack, not to mention the Shy Guys who disappear halfway through and leave slick bananas in their wake.
My favorite of the new tracks is Shroom Ridge, a dense and winding mountaintop circuit filled with traffic to avoid. Not hitting his cars feels like threading a fast-moving needle, but the reward is endless drifting, which sometimes feels more like Ridge Racer than Mario Kart. Another, Tokyo Blur, also feels infused with a bit of that Namco racing magic, though to me it feels a little too wide and open to encourage the kind of mayhem where Mario Kart thrives.
Elsewhere, some of the new courses seem more basic, and I don’t see them making it into many people’s regular list. While I love the giant toads floating above the Toad circuit (originally found on the 3DS), the track itself is basically a flat, boring figure-eight circuit. And the Game Boy Advance location, Sky Garden, feels too much like a Cloudtop Cruise retread to really offer anything new.
Coconut Mall and Choco Mountain are solid additions, but can feel like they’re repeating things that have already been improved in Mario Kart 8existing courses. Despite debuting in a previous game, N64’s Choco Mountain looks like a simplified version of Grumble Volcano, while Coconut Mall looks like a mix of Sunshine Airport and Super Bell Subway. The mall’s reverse escalators are a fun and tricky addition, but the overall track is simpler.
Given reports that this year may have seen the release of a Mario Kart 9at first it was tempting to see Mario Kart 8 Deluxe48 new courses like exactly that; a brand new Mario Kart game disguised as DLC. But those first eight additions are more limited in scope than you’d expect from a numbered new entry in the series. They’re fun, and I suspect some of them will become popular with some of the over 40 million Switch owners who have purchased Mario Kart 8 Deluxebut their quality cannot match the original content of the game.
But for a cost of just $24.99 – or free if you’re subscribed to Nintendo’s premium Switch Online + Expansion Pack tier – these new DLC courses don’t have to match the quality of the game’s original tracks to be a good one. case. Buying them is a no-brainer if you still occasionally play Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. But in 2022, half a decade after Mario Kart’s last substantial roster addition, it’s hard not to be hungry for something more substantial.