As of the time of this writing, the first wave of the much talked about Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC is out. If you´ve bought the Booster Course Pass or have a Nintendo Switch Online Expansion, you now have access to the first wave of DLC tracks. After 5 (8 if you’ve been playing since the Wii U days) years of playing through the same old courses, people are happy to have some new tracks to race on. However, there have been some concerns in regards to the quality of these tracks. Specifically, if Nintendo was putting in a low effort by quickly porting over Mario Kart Tour tracks.
So, let’s dive in and see if these concerns were warranted and what tone this first wave sets for the entire package.
Let’s unpack what is on offer here. In wave 1 we have Paris Promenade (Tour), Toad Circuit (3DS) Choco Mountain (N64) and Coconut Mall (Wii) in the Golden Dash Cup and Tokyo Blur (Tour), Shroom Ridge (DS), Sky Garden (GBA) and Ninja Hideaway (Tour) in the Lucky Cat Cup.
Paris Promenade is a fun course whose biggest attraction, aside from the Eiffel Tower, is how the final lap loops around in such a way that you drive through the track backwards. Toad Circuit is a rather basic track while Choco Mountain and Coconut Mall are just as fun as I remember them. Nice updates of the originals.
Tokyo Blur is simple but effective with how each lap is slightly different. Shroom Ridge is my least favourite. Too chaotic with all the cars driving around that can hit you. Sky Garden is nice but a bit forgettable. Ninja Hideaway is my favourite. It looks very nice with its old Japan aesthetic and its many different pathways give you a lot of options. It is erroneously not labelled, giving a wrongful impression that the track is brand new. They should really fix that.
I think the 8 tracks here offer some nice variety within this first wave. From courses that are quick and easy to grasp to ones that are longer and with lots of different twists, turns and pathways. They are perhaps not the most exciting tracks, I’d say that Coconut Mall is the most well-known of the tracks, but they are all fun.
By and large, these tracks fit in well with the original courses. They’ve been updated to fit in with the general style Mario Kart 8 Deluxe goes for. HD graphics, re-recorded track musing that fit the game’s high-energy and joyous tracks to a T etc. The shape of the courses remain the same but the backgrounds have been redone completely alongside some other adjustments.
There were concerns that the tracks from the mobile outing Mario Kart Tour would take up the majority of the courses. That these tracks would be low-effort ports and not fit in. I find it ironic then that it is these 3 Tour tracks that are the most interesting. That these are the ones that have a plethora of twists, turns and pathways.
I only have two issues here. The rather lacking texture work and the lack of the anti-gravity mechanic. If you compare the textures of these DLC tracks to those of the tracks in the base game, there is a clearly visible drop in quality. The grass, for example, is just a plain stretch of green compared to Moo Moo Meadow´s realistic grass. The racetrack and the more immediate elements such as the Eifel Tower are fine texture-wise so it’s not a shortcoming that’s gets thrown right in your face but it is still noticeable.
What’s rather odd about the textures is that the quality of them is not only different between the base game tracks and these DLC courses, but also between these new courses. The bushes of Paris Promenade basically has zero texturing while those in Tokyo Blur do. Odd, indeed.
None of these tracks has any anti-gravity segments. The anti-gravity mechanic isn’t that integral of a mechanic to the game. Doesn’t add that much to the experience but its absence here is noticeable nonetheless since it is the central ‘gimmick’ of Mario Kart 8.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 1 does exactly what it advertised. It gives players 8 new courses from other games in the series to race on. While it is disappointing that these courses aren’t quite up to snuff in terms of quality with the lesser texture work and lack of anti-gravity sections that doesn’t detract from the overall experience.
These are fun courses, with a nice amount of variety. They are not the most exciting tracks, there are no surprises here if you get my drift, which is something future waves can improve upon. The development team going back to this wave and touching up some of those textures would also be appreciated.