Having a reason to revisit Mario Kart 8 Deluxe again is my greatest gaming joy so far this year.
Between Wii U and Switch, I’ve spent so many hours on this game that I honestly thought my days playing it were done. How wrong could I be?
And the best part is that the Booster Course Pass is going to keep me playing long into 2023. Delicious!
It all begins today with Wave 1, featuring 8 new courses and two new cups. The courses themselves feature franchise highs, like Coconut Mall from Mario Kart Wii and Shroom Ridge from Mario Kart DS. But there’s also some new additions to boot.
For the most part, the pack has started off strong, though there is some overreliance on Mario Kart Tour already, which we’re starting to think will be a theme in this pack. Not necessarily a bad thing, though, as those tracks are actually a lot of fun. One, in particular, may be one of the best Mario Kart tracks in ages.
The mix of courses makes for a good batch, too. Within the Golden Dash Cup, you’ll get to kick it all off by driving through Paris, around the Eiffel Tower, through the city streets and even soaring through the skies.
It’s a newer track for Mario Kart, but it’s a memorable one, particularly with its lovingly crafted theme and the level of detail. It all looks and sounds great on a Switch OLED, though it’s got some tricky turns and there’s quite a shift for the last lap which will almost certainly catch you out once or twice.
But I love the blend of the real world with the Mario Kart universe and it is something the mobile game does very well. So the switch into Toad Circuit definitely feels more authentically Mario Kart and much more familiar to those who’ve played the series over the years.
It’s a much easier, more introductory course, so there’s a slightly odd flow coming off the more complex track, but it also settles the nerves a little bit and is a great opportunity for practicing your drifting again to prepare for later tracks and cups.
Toad Circuit is a great all-timer and always a pleasure to race. Much the same as Choco Mountain, which has never looked better. Both are very much faithful recreations of the classic tracks, especially that iconic theme, which is much the same as the others in Wave 1, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a joy to cruise around.
One only has to take a look at Mario Kart on the N64 emulator and compare to what we have in this Wave to see just how crisp and stunning this looks.
And Coconut Mall, the track that’s been getting all the headlines for this wave, is back and a real wheel turner as you move around kiosks, dart up escalators and skim around cars. You can see why it’s such a beloved place to drive in Mario Kart and will definitely be a popular destination online in the months ahead.
Likewise, the Lucky Cat Cup is another great one to race, starting off strongly with another great Mario Kart Tour track, Tokyo Blur, which is an ever-changing rollercoaster ride as it blends 3 of the Tokyo Blur races together in one. It certainly keeps you on your toes and all the elements are smartly brought together.
I’m also super impressed at the upgrade Shroom Ridge and Sky Garden have had coming from the DS and GBA respectively. These courses look gorgeous with traffic moving at steady, controlled, but equally treacherous pace that can definitely catch you off guard and the vibrant, cloud-garden really pops and dazzles like never before.
As for Ninja Hideaway, this has potential to be an absolute all-timer with its tricky turns, hilly bumps, and wealth of shortcuts. Skirting on tops of rooftops, while dodging Shy Guys and navigating tight beams so you can drop projectiles down on unsuspecting Karters. The layers on this level are surprisingly deep and it’s been a lot of fun unpicking them.
For a first Wave, we couldn’t really have asked for much more. There’s range and quality here, combined with some lovely upgrades and a few greats that have potential to be long-standing favourites. Despite a lack of Mario Kart 8 stamp on some of these levels, if this is the level of quality we can expect from the Booster Course Pass, it’s worth every penny and thensome!
This Wave, and almost certainly the rest of the Booster Course Pass, makes one thing very clear. Mario Kart 8 not only has longevity, but it will go down in history as the best Mario Kart of all time.
+ Nice range of tracks
+ Stunning remixes graphically and audibly
– Track positioning within cups sometimes feels in the wrong order
– Not much new benefit from existing Mario Kart 8 mechanics
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave One is now available on Nintendo Switch
Code Kindly Provided by Nintendo