Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 1 review

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a game I mention every two weeks on the podcast, not because I play it a lot, but because I run through the UK sales charts to check out the best selling games that week. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is always in the top ten. I think it may have missed 2-3 weeks since February 2019, and it’s approaching 45 million units sold worldwide, easily being the most popular Nintendo Switch game out there. Given it’s popularity, it was only a matter of time before Nintendo made more DLC, and the first batch of new tracks are here. Today I’m going to run through all the new tracks and review the first DLC Wave.

Mario Kart is becoming the new Smash Brothers. Smash had a long run of taking a slot at major Nintendo Direct’s, often opening up the show with a new character. Since Sakurai is done with Smash Characters (for now) Nintendo have found something to take it’s place and it’s Mario Kart. At the recent Nintendo Direct at the start of 2022 Nintendo announced multiple waves of DLC packs for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, plus if you are a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber then you get that content for free. You can also purchase the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass too via the e-shop. In total Nintendo will be delivering 48 ‘new’ courses to Mario Kart (new to Mario Kart 8, they are a mix of tracks from other versions of Mario Kart like the N64, Wii etc).

Wave 1 is here and we have two new cups to play including the Golden Dash Cup and the Lucky Cat Cup. This includes 8 tracks in total with a mix of tracks from previous Mario Kart titles, including Mario Kart Tour (the lesser loved Mario Kart mobile game). The first outing for the new tracks are a little low-key, although there are some bangers in here. I was also skeptical about the Mario Kart Tour tracks, but actually they are very good!

Some tracks are better than others, of course, but it’s a solid line up overall.

Golden Dash Cup

Paris Promenade (Mario Kart Tour)
Toad Circuit (Nintendo 3DS)
Choco Mountain (Nintendo 64)
Coconut Mall (Wii)

Lucky Cat Cup

Tokyo Blur (Mario Kart Tour)
Shroom Ridge (Nintendo DS)
Sky Garden (Game Boy Advance)
Ninja Hideaway (Mario Kart Tour)

Paris Promenade and Ninja Hideaway immediatelty stand out. I didn’t play Mario Kart Tour, so they feel like new tracks to me. I’ve heard some grumbling about the graphics, but I personally didn’t really notice, and I think the courses are just fine. There’s a nice gimmick on the final lap where you have to do something different, which did catch me out at first and switched things up in an unexpected way. Just make sure you’re paying attention on that final lap.

Ninja Hideaway is probably the best course of the whole pack, and there’s been some good feedback all round from Mario Kart fans. This is a track with multiple routes, it’s relatively short compared to some other tracks, but it’s great fun and worthy of a place in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. As well as the multiple routes you also have a new found verticality to the levels, which is very impressive and a twist on other courses in the pack. It’s definitely the most ambitious track in the pack, and I think will be many people’s top pick.

As well as the new Tour tracks, there are plenty of retro Mario Kart courses too. Choco Mountain is the one I remember the best, given the amount of time I spent with Mario Kart 64. It was probably my most played N64 game, so it was good to go back to that course. I’ll be looking out for more 64 tracks in the coming DLC packs. Coconut Mall is also a lot of fun, again feeling very new to me because I didn’t play the Wii version as much as I played 64. Most of the retro tracks stay pretty true to their original versions and don’t play too much with the full Mario Kart 8 bells and whistles.

This intial pack has me torn in a couple of directions. On the positive side of things, I’m surprised (and happy) with the way the Mario Kart Tour tracks have translated to Nintendo Switch. They work great. Plus I’m liking the retro courses, I’m either getting that hit of nostalgia, or catching up on tracks I’ve missed. On the negative side of things, the retro courses haven’t really been spruced up – they are true to their original model, and haven’t been brought up to the standard of other Mario Kart 8 courses. You could argue if Nintendo edited them too much they wouldn’t be true to their original form, but I would have liked to see Nintendo do a little more.

Before jumping into the DLC Wave 1, I wasn’t too hyped for the rest of the tracks. But this DLC Wave 1 has me hooked once again on Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and I’ve been enjoying these courses, plus going back and completing cups I’ve missed in the past. We have five more waves coming before the end of 2023, and if the calibre of tracks are anything like this first wave, then we’re in for a real treat. I’d love to see Bowser’s Castle, Moo Moo Farm and Kalimari Desert from the N64 version, plus throw in a few SNES tracks too like Donut Plains 3 and the classic Mario Circuit.