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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Booster Course Pass – Wave 1 review

new Mario Kart DLC course pass

The first wave of paid DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has arrived, bringing eight remastered tracks from across one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises. With the promise of 40 more tracks by the end of next year to help soothe fans yearning for the next big console instalment, are we off to a strong rocket boost start with our first taste of the Booster Course Pass?

It’s hard to ignore the fact that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still going down a storm with Switch owners. The formidable kart racer continues to dig its heels in on the weekly charts, it’s sold over a staggering 43 million copies globally (that’s over 51 million copies if you count the original Wii U version), and is often bundled with the Nintendo Switch during the holiday season. Day-one fans are clambering for the next mainline console game, but with the release of the Booster Course Pass, Nintendo hopes to make the wait for the next instalment a little easier. It comes at no additional cost for NSO Expansion Pack owners, can be purchased separately for £22.49/$24.99, and those who don’t own it can still enjoy the new content with friends online who do. For the most part, the eight tracks spread across two new cups succeed in delivering the excellent course design we’ve grown accustomed to, but there are a few niggles here and there.

Having played a few hours on and offline with friends, and after grabbing three stars in each of the single-player Grand Prix cups, it’s fair to say that not every course in Wave 1 is consistently impressive. While the likes of Mario Kart Tour’s Paris Promenade gives racers an interesting mix of lap-by-lap changes to cater for its different iterations, Sky Garden from GBA’s Mario Kart: Super Circuit on the other hand isn’t quite as thrilling. Nostalgia will indeed play a large part in enjoying the latter, but it certainly feels like there’s a lost opportunity here; Nintendo opted for a clean, almost like-for-like, copy of each track with no anti-gravity implementation whatsoever. Sure, the argument of “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” could come into play, but it still would have been great to see the courses get a more in-depth and experimental Deluxe respray. 

Shroom Ridge also falls victim to this and finds itself lower on the list of tracks that stood out. Originating on DS, it definitely didn’t excite me as much as Ninja Hideaway did, for example, and the same goes for the rather vanilla Toad Circuit from the 3DS era. However, one could argue that Nintendo has stayed faithful to the original track design, and that’s fine, but it wouldn’t have hurt to switch things up a bit, especially for long standing fans of the original versions. Overall, some tracks in Wave 1, while characteristically as vibrant as a bowl of Fruit Loops under a UV light, look somewhat flat when it comes to texture and details. Whether or not they’re sticking to their roots or are simply ‘lazy ports’ will be a debate we’ll see on social media for a while, as it’s difficult to ignore while drifting round corners in Toad Circuit where it’s noticeably barebones, especially when you jump back to the base game’s more realistically textured tracks that released some 10 years ago.

On the flip side, N64’s Choco Mountain from the new Golden Dash Cup, while staying true to its original design, is presented wonderfully with gorgeous glowing blue crystals housed in its cave, and the HD Rumble of the Joy-Con as the chocolatey boulders smash near your kart is a lovely touch. What was once a fog-filled, sharp-edged track, is now a smooth, delicious-looking arena. And Tokyo Blur, aside from an obvious dull section on the third lap, presents itself nicely, and is a real joy to race around its busy setting and tangled, interchangeable road layout. More of the Tour courses, please.

Unlike the tracks themselves, what is consistent, however, is the music. Every course boasts remastered soundtracks, and each has been composed to an exceptionally high standard; Coconut Mall’s stupidly catchy theme tune is better than ever, and was definitely a personal highlight among the eight tracks in Wave 1. Hearing the unique feel and tone of Mario Kart’s jazzy and uplifting melodies really thrusts new life into these courses.

Folks who haven’t invested much time in Mario Kart Tour for smartphones are in for more of a treat with this first wave of remastered tracks. Admittedly, I dropped off the Tour hype early on, so Tokyo Blur’s changing laps and tight course design, Paris Promenade’s gorgeous setting, and Ninja Hideout’s chaotic Bowser Castle-style hazards proved to be the most intriguing and downright enjoyable. While ‘Tour players may appreciate the upscaled and fine-tuned appearance of these courses, there’s a high chance that the novelty has already waned. 

Fan-favourite, Coconut Mall, still provides an excellent time, and even more so as those pesky cars just before the finish line are stationary this time around. The updated course is bursting with colour, the frantic scramble to squeeze onto the forward moving travelators is as hilarious as ever, and the fun shortcuts it provides is a testament to Mario Kart’s impeccable course design. Even without the Mii’s being present in this version – it’s definitely stood the test of time. 

Nintendo’s first batch of DLC tracks that join the 48 courses already available do well to add an extra bit of needed spice to a game that’s still being played, and bought, by millions of Switch owners. With 40 more tracks arriving by the end of 2023, it’s worth getting excited over if this first handful is anything to go by. Sure, not every track earns a place in Mario Kart’s prestigious Hall of Fame, and it would have been nice to see design updates to make them truly special, jumping back into what’s already a sublime kart racer was a blast, and being able to share tracks that I have fond memories playing years ago with friends online was a real treat.


19 thoughts on “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Booster Course Pass – Wave 1 review”

  1. My only gripe, besides the obvious downgrade in realism compared to the rest of 8’s tracks, is the lack of background objects. Maybe it’s just me, but Coconut Mall, Shroom Ridge, & Toad Circuit felt strangely empty for some reason. The OG Coconut Mall had wayyyy more cars and background characters cheering you on, which made the track feel alive. But the remastered one felt kinda barren.

    1. I agree with you here. Admittedly, I didn’t notice the less cluttered setting in Coconut Mall but certainly in Shroom Ridge & Toad Circuit. They run great but it felt a bit empty at times.

  2. I’m a little disappointed how Coconut Mall feels slightly downgraded, and I think Sky Garden is the worst track in MK8 now, but otherwise, I guess I’m satisfied enough. It’s nice to finally have some of the better Tour tracks in a game that’s not Tour. I wish they’d put in the effort to give the new tracks antigravity sections like most other tracks in MK8, but I’ll take what I can get at this point given the fairly low cost of the DLC

  3. This is an amazing game. I’ve never played Mario Kart before, but it has a lot of great features and the graphics are awesome. This game is perfect for both children and adults because it’s easy to play with simple controls and fun gameplay. I would recommend this product to anyone who likes kart racing games because this one is definitely worth buying!

    1. Hey there, Michael. Thanks for reading my review and for the feedback. I don’t personally feel there’s an issue with the word niggle, but I appreciate your comment.

  4. It’s a good selection of tracks for the first two new cups, a taste of what’s to come. However, only the Tour courses, N64 Choco Mountain, and GBA Sky Garden look nice; Coconut Mall looks less lively and more glossy in a bad way, and Toad Circuit and Shroom Ridge just look like plastic; the grass and dirt on those tracks aren’t even textured, they’re just flat, single colors. It’s jarring when you play one of the tracks in the base game like DS Cheep Cheep Beach or Mount Wario and see how gorgeous they look, then play one of these new tracks and how unappealing they look by comparison.

    With any luck, the tracks coming in later waves will look much better. These first two feel like they were kind of rushed. They’re still fun to play, but they don’t match the graphical fidelity we find in the rest of the game.

  5. Yes a great game. I’ve played all the other 48 tracks that many times I know every turn and shortcut. Have played the new 8 several times too. I’m just finding it so sad to hear about how long it’ll be till the other 40 will be out, end of 2023, that’s 20 months away, wouldn’t be so bad if it was the end of 2022

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