Since its launch back in 2022, the Booster Course Pass has gotten much better in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Indeed, with the track selection going from mediocre to awesome and the aesthetics from embarrassingly ugly to loosely on par with the base game, it’s clear the level of effort put in has gone up dramatically since the early days of wave 1.
Yet with the quality of the latest additions being so high, that made us wonder something. Could Nintendo really top this?
Could wave 5 really stand up to wave 4 in the quality department, given how awesome the likes of Waluigi Stadium and Yoshi’s Island were as tracks?
Well, we’re happy to say the answer is yes. With three awesome new characters and some of the best tracks in the game, wave 5 of the Booster Course Pass is arguably the best one yet, with a level of quality that generally puts even the base game to shame.
So, in this review, we’re going to evaluate why this. How Nintendo somehow took an already greatly improved DLC pack, and somehow made it even better with the final wave of DLC.
Starting with the obvious part. The tracks.
Put simply, these are some of the best courses Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has ever seen. We’ve got classics like Koopa Cape, Daisy Cruiser and Moonview Highway returning at long last, incredible new city tracks like Athens Dash, and a surprisingly amazing bathroom track in the form of Squeaky Clean Sprint.
With the latter being a surprising standout. Indeed, when we first heard a bathroom track was coming to Mario Kart Tour, we were sceptical at best. After all, a giant bathroom? How the hell would that work in a Mario Kart game? It sounded like something out of a ludicrous 4chan rumour, or some internet random’s bad joke.
And while that feeling got a bit better when we saw it was real, there was still a feeling of “why?”.
Why make a track based on this anyway? Did anyone really want it? Would it even work well in the game?
Well, safe to say we were utterly wrong there. Not only does Squeaky Clean Sprint work well as a track, it’s actually one of the standouts in the DLC so far.
Seriously, it’s basically Ninja Hideaway means Ribbon Road. You’ve got a huge variety of gimmicks and obstacles to contend with, there are alternate paths everywhere (some of which we didn’t know about until we saw them on social media) and a damn good theme song that fits the action to a tee. It’s a really great track, and one we’re happy to see in this wave of the DLC.
And the same level of quality seems to be true of the city tracks too. We’re not kidding, these have to be some of the best city tracks ever brought over from Tour.
With the main reason being that unlike the wave 1 cities, these don’t just feel like an endless series of streets with little in the way of thematic or gameplay variety. It’s not like Tokyo Blur, where it’s basically street after street with a motorway at the end, and the odd obstacle thrown in here and there so it’s slightly less of a Sunday drive.
No, there’s actual variety here. LA Laps has you race along the beach and through a construction site, in addition to the streets of the city. Vancouver Velocity has the bridges through the snowy forest, stop off at an ice hockey rink and a lovely nighttime aesthetic…
While Athens Dash… well that barely even feels like a Tour city track. It’s a race that mainly takes you through ruins and up mountains and across winding country paths, with memorable moments including a trip through the Colosseum. It’s just a fun time, and one that feels less like a generic racing game track and more like a Mario Kart one that happens to take place in a real location.
As for the retro tracks, they’re a great bunch too. Daisy Cruiser is a fairly faithful port of the Mario Kart 7 version, albeit with some Innertube Goombas and NPCs sitting at the moving tables in the dining room. Koopa Cape is pretty much the same fun time as it always was, albeit with the tube section being anti-gravity focused to fit with 8 Deluxe’s mechanics. And Moonview Highway is exactly what you’d expect too, with a damn catchy remix of the theme song playing in the background to boot.
Indeed, the only disappointment here is Sunset Wilds, and that’s really more because of the aesthetics than anything else. What do we mean?
Well, to put it simply, the sun doesn’t set anymore. Now there’s no nighttime version in later laps, and a decent amount of the atmosphere has been lost as a result of that.
It’s a really shame to be honest, and given that even the GBA version could do this effect justice, one that utterly baffles us in the context of 8 Deluxe. Like was it really that tough to add a dynamic skybox here? Is something that even Tour can do so much more difficult to implement in 8 Deluxe?
It doesn’t really make sense really; especially given the amount of skill the team has in terms of implementing new obstacles and mechanics into the game.
Regardless, the track itself is okay, so it’s not the end of the world. It’s not like, a Toad Circuit or Tokyo Blur level snooze fest here. Just a tad disappointing for longtime Mario Kart fans.
What’s certainly not disappointing for longtime fans on the other hand are the character additions. Indeed, with Wiggler and Petey Piranha making their highly anticipated return to the main series and Kamek being made playable in a home console Mario Kart game for the first time ever, they’re an awesome selection of newcomers to play as here.
And let’s reiterate that a minute. Thank God Kamek got his lucky break at last.
Not only did the poor Magikoopa lose out on a spot in Mario Kart 64, he also lost out on a place in the original Mario Kart 8 too! It’s like Nintendo really had it in for him in this series, and seemingly refused to put him in spinoffs for the longest time ever.
But now that’s changed. Now he’s actually playable in 8 Deluxe, and (from what we’ve seen) the fans are picking him in droves too. Guess there was a light at the end of the tunnel for this character!
The music is done well in this wave too. Yeah, while the last few waves have been mixed in terms of whether new remixes are used or how much the songs in question are changed, wave 5’s tracks have all received excellent reimaginings of their themes. Like for example, Koopa Cape and Moonview Highway, which are just as jazzy as ever:
Or the new Squeaky Clean Sprint track, which has a lovely calming song with a surprising sense of grandeur for the track design in question:
It’s a good soundtrack, and one that definitely makes the most of Mario Kart 8’s style.
So yeah, the tracks, music and characters are all as great as expected. But what about negatives? Are there any issues here?
To be honest, yeah. They’re not major issues, but they’re worth pointing out nonetheless.
First the Tour city tracks definitely seem like they could have been better signposted. As they are, the corners just seem a tad too tight/sudden at times, and it feels like there are definite instances where the design is pointing you one way while the track itself goes in the other direction. Like the ice rink’s left turn in Vancouver Velocity, some of the uphill sections in Athens Dash, and a few of the city turns in LA Laps.
Secondly, while the graphics are indeed a lot better than those in wave 1 or 2, there are still a few areas in which they’re a mixed bag. Notably, the Tour tracks have very simplistic backgrounds compared to the others in the game, which is rather noticeable if you ever stop to look around in Athens Dash or LA Laps. Again, it’s not a huge deal and the vast majority of the graphics look at least somewhat on par with the base game, but there are inconsistencies here nonetheless.
Either way, that’s wave 5 of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass for you. It’s a solid wave of DLC with some good tracks and characters, and very much one of the best ones we’ve seen since wave 1. Definitely go and play it Mario Kart 8 Deluxe fans, it’s well worth it.