Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the most played game on the Switch, the very definition of an evergreen game. However, aside from Battle Mode and a few minor tweaks, die-hard fans have been playing the same content since the original Wii U with its DLC content, a scenario that finally changes with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s exclusive Booster Course Pass. .
Wave 1 has landed and generated a lot of excitement, and there’s certainly a thrill of booting up the game and introducing two new fun cups – the Golden Dash Cup and the Lucky Cat Cup. The combination of courses reminds us that this is the “bottom row” equivalent of the original line-up, with a number of retro and – for the first time – Mario Kart Tour tracks included in eight new offerings. Still, it’s a solid initial choice, especially since it’s the first batch and therefore supposedly “lighter” cups in what will be a huge 48-track package.
Standouts in this first wave, in part because of their unfamiliarity to those who haven’t spent much time with mobile recording in the series, are the Mario Kart Tour tracks. The Paris-Tokyo-themed courses look amazing, and there are smart alternate routes on the last lap – a neat touch to shake things up.
Ninja Hideaway is the most brutal course in the first wave with several routes where strategists will experiment to find an advantage. It’s a course that feels a little too complex and smart to play with mobile controls, and is one of our favorites. While relatively short (especially in the faster 200cc mode), these Mario Kart Tour courses do hold up very well to the Switch’s widescreen canvas.
All the retro tracks are attractive too, the strongest being Coconut Mall and Shroom Ridge. The latter is a frenetic and quite fun experience in 200cc, with all riders struggle to avoid heavy traffic. The rest of the tracks are fairly straightforward and “walkable”, although since they’re based on work done for the Mario Kart Tour, we end up with a rather basic Sky Garden, which is a little disappointing.
It’s also worth noting that these recreations don’t go overboard by adding any anti-gravity sections, a major gimmick that Mario Kart 8 introduced to the series. Truth be told, these additions to the original MK8 retro tracks were sometimes quite simplistic, and you really get the speed and slide here – just don’t expect any major departures from the source material.
That’s the main thing to keep in mind about these tracks: they are ultimately recreations of fun courses, not creative twists that some might expect. On the one hand, there’s a hint of frustration and speculation that this is sort of Nintendo’s “B Team” effort, but the original courses are still interesting and fit well with Mario Kart 8’s speed classes and mechanics.
In terms of delivery, the sound is a pleasure, with music remixes that improve upon the originals, full of the energy you’d expect from this game. Visually, we only have decent Results; the tracks look crisp in handheld or desktop play, and the development team has improved the lighting and some aspects of the design compared to what mobile players have seen.
However, the origin of the MK Tour in this content is also obvious, and in some cases it seems a little lackluster on Nintendo’s part. Environmental factors such as grass and sand are simplified flat colors devoid of texture and a life. Compare such aspects to equivalents from games like Moo Moo Meadows or Dry Dry Desert – both retro remixes in the main game – and the comparison won’t be a good one.
All in all, Wave 1 of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass is fun and brings a modern classic with an exciting new spark of life. After you’ve gone through the racing classes, it’s likely that the itch will return and we’ll be back in the online lobby again, looking forward to five more waves before the end of 2023. This is the key conclusion we made earlier. when trying out the Booster Course Pass – you can’t go wrong with “more Mario Kart”.