Reviews

Re-evaluating the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass

TL;DR

A great DLC pack, and a huge improvement over wave 1

Re-evaluating the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass

Oh wow, it’s been a while since we looked at the Booster Course Pass, hasn’t it? Indeed, with our previous review merely covering the first wave of DLC, the track selection has moved on a lot since then, both in quantity and quality.

This means that many of our initial comments on the DLC are outdated too, with thoughts from the time merely reflecting the situation on tracks like Toad Circuit and Choco Mountain rather than the more impressive ones released since that point.

So today, we’re gonna fix that, and re evaluate the Booster Course once again. Are you ready? If so, let’s a-go!

With the first point of the day being that the DLC has gotten a whole lot better since the olden days of March 2022. Indeed, while the likes of Toad Circuit, Coconut Mall and Shroom Ridge looked very rough back then, the track choices and general design quality has improved tenfold in the packs since then, with the more modern ones actually fitting the base game a lot better.

As a result, the visual consistency issues have mostly been fixed now. Oh sure, there’s the odd track that looks a bit rough by comparison, like Mario Circuit 3 or Alpine Pass.

But the vast majority look like they could fit rather nicely in the base game, with courses like Maple Treeway, Merry Mountain and 3DS Rainbow Road being aesthetic standouts here. These are beautiful courses, and ones that genuinely give some of 8’s originals a run for their money on the production values side too.

Maple Treeway

Maple Treeway looks stunning in the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC

Merry Mountain

Merry Mountain is incredibly charming and has a wonderful Christmas feel to it

3DS Rainbow Road

And 3DS Rainbow Road looks incredible, with a beautiful skybox and amazing track textures

And they don’t manage that just by adding a few more textures or rebuilding everything from the ground up.

No, they succeed because Nintendo chose them for their unique art styles and theming. They’re not bland circuit, forest or field based tracks, they’re ones with interesting themes and vibrant colour palettes.

It’s the same reason Ninja Hideaway worked so well in the first wave. Because it wasn’t just a random castle with a bunch of boring brick textures everywhere, it was a full blown Japanese style dojo with an incredibly unique colour scheme and decorations galore. Originality and artistic flair masks bland design and technical limitations, and Nintendo’s actually learnt that with wave 2 and 3.

Sadly, the same level of improvement can’t be said about the music.

Since the musical quality (and level in which of they’ve been improved beyond the source material) is incredibly inconsistent in waves 2 and 3. On the one hand, you’ve got the GBA songs, which now sound incredible with real instruments and without the GBA’s soundchip limitations:

YouTube player
YouTube player

Yet at the same time, songs like Mario Circuit 3 and Mushroom Gorge haven’t changed much at all…

YouTube player

And Waluigi Pinball literally doesn’t have a new song to its name. It’s just the exact same as played in Wario Stadium, without even the mercy of more futuristic sounding instruments. It’s a shame really, and kinda drags down what could have been a perfect soundtrack.

It’s not bad or anything, and in most cases the songs actually do sound really good. It’s just that they don’t quite go the full way with most of them like they did in the first Booster Course Pass wave.

Regardless, where the music sometimes falters, the track design usually shines. Why? Well for one thing, the tracks in wave 2 and 3 actually somewhat use Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s mechanics in more interesting ways.

With Sky-High Sundae in wave 2 and numerous others (like Boo Lake and 3DS Rainbow Road) actually taking advantage of the anti gravity mechanics here. Add this to the underwater stuff that Boo Lake now has (and that future tracks will likely make more use of too), and well, it’s clear the designs are actually being tweaked to fit the game rather than just having the bare minimum changed to make them functional.

And the actual track choices are awesome too. Oh sure, there’s the odd track that looks a bit rough (like Alpine Pass), and Mario Circuit 3 isn’t exactly excitement central.

But none of the tracks in the last two waves are anything other than fun to play, and they’re a hell of a lot more interesting than the Toad Circuits and Tokyo Blurs of wave 1 to boot. Waluigi Pinball, Mushroom Gorge, Maple Treeway, 3DS Rainbow Road… they’re all incredible tracks, and ones that are at least on par with wave 1’s Ninja Hideaway in terms of general quality.

Yet it’s not just the already fancy tracks that work here. No, the later 2 waves have also shown how well you can remake Mario Kart Super Circuit’s tracks too!

Yep, remember how Sky Garden got a lot of criticism for being short and uninteresting? Or for losing like 90% of the original track’s layout without much to show for it?

That’s not the case with Snow Land or Boo Lake. Those actually keep most of the original layout, except with extra obstacles like penguins and fishbones thrown in, along with stuff like anti gravity and underwater sections. They’re fun, they’re loyal to the original, and they improve them in a similar way to the base game’s GBA tracks.

Boo Lake

Boo Lake looks great in the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC

It’s a huge step up to say the least!

Same goes with the city tracks too. Oh sure, Paris Promenade was okay, and Tokyo Blur was merely mediocre…

But the ones in waves 2 and 3 just seem more interesting here too. New York Minute and London Loop have incredible music and look decent, whereas the likes of Sydney Sprint and Berlin Byways are great tracks in their own rights, with fun layouts, interesting obstacles and some absolutely fantastic music to listen along to as you play.

YouTube player

They’re wonderful, and again, feel like a huge step up from their earlier counterparts.

Heck, even the older tracks received a glow up here! Oh sure, it was usually minor (like dirt textures working correctly on Toad Circuit and Choco Mountain), but hey, we at least got moving cars in Coconut Mall now! So the problems with wave 1 are being addressed here too.

Either way, the Booster Course Pass is now much better than it was before, and well worth the purchase for anyone looking for more Mario Kart goodness.

If you have any interest in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe whatsoever, and somehow don’t already own it, go and pick it up immediately!

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