Mario Kart fans have been treated to the second round of DLC for the Wii U’s Mario Kart 8 a little earlier than expected, releasing on April 23 around the globe instead of the originally-slated May 2015 placeholder.
As with the first pack released late last year, this one comes full of new content, including two brand new cups comprising four courses each, three new characters and even new vehicles to race with. It’s basically a breath of fresh air into an already excellent game, giving the latest Mario Kart an even higher level of longevity and depth than ever before.
The two new cups are the Crossing Cup and the Bell Cup. Tracks are again a mix of old and new, though the ratio has changed a little, with four new and four retro tracks. Having said that, the older retros are given such amazing facelifts that they often feel like completely new tracks. And that’s the overall feel of this pack – fun, fresh and jaw-droppingly gorgeous to look at.
- Baby Park – Taken from the GameCube, this one has always been a fan favorite. It takes the simple premise of a short, oval-shaped track with an extended amount of laps, making it seven laps of fast and frantic action. By the time you hit the last blurry lap, the track is littered with obstacles. This updated version has an overhauled background featuring a Nintendo theme park, if you can spare a second to look outside the action.
- Cheese Land – Hailing from the GBA’s Super Circuit, this was always an odd track in this writer’s opinion, mainly because it was made out of cheese of all things. In any case, the Wii U overhaul has done wonders for the yellow track to the point of making it unrecognizable. It now seems more like a desert track, with swiss cheese pockmarks to avoid and giant Chain Chomps lunging at you, all set amongst tight turns – and keep an eye out for those shortcuts.
- Wild Woods – A new track that is truly beautiful – here you race through a giant tree, with narrow trunks and flowing water parts to keep you on your toes. It’s got the feel of the Wii’s Maple Treeway crossed with Koopa Cape, but it’s unique and has a design all of its own.
- Animal Crossing – The closing track is where this cup gets its name, and it’s no surprise that this is a track designed with Animal Crossing in mind. It’s an easier track, with a Mario Circuit feel, but it’s simply littered with Animal Crossing references, from the bells bag icon your coins go into and the trees in your path to the changing landscape and familiar faces dotted around the track. The additional feature of a random season is simply lovely too, with each race being set in one of the four seasons, with different landscapes and obstacles depending on whether it’s autumn, summer, winter or spring. A beautiful track.
- Neo Bowser City – A fast track that is largely unchanged from Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS, though it plays just as well on the Wii U and looks stunning in HD. Plenty of tight turns to keep you on your toes here.
- Ribbon Road – Another GBA Super Circuit remake that’s also completely unrecognizable, in a very good way. This is probably the most glorious-looking track in the entire DLC. Set in what looks like a toy room, it’s reminiscent of Nintendo through the eye of a Toy Story lense – simply gorgeous. It’s colorful, full of additional trinkets to feast your eyes on, and is a fun track to boot. The ribbon laces itself through the toy room, lazily lilting up and down as you race across it. There are yarn Yoshis, wind-up Toads, Bowser jack-in-the-boxes, Mecha Koopas, and more in this fun and visually stunning track.
- Super Bell Subway – This newbie is a traffic-laden track of sorts where you’ll be avoiding subway trains as you scoot through tunnels and up into the station itself. A little like Coconut Mall in it’s execution, it’s another new and interesting setting and easily measures up to join with the high quality tracks we already love from previous Mario Kart titles.
- Big Blue – Another newbie, this F-Zero homage follows in the footsteps of Mute City from the last DLC pack. This is a point-to-point race filled with turbo panels and careening, high roads, much like a futuristic Rainbow Road track. Fun, fast and furious action to be had here.
Characters and vehicles
Let’s not forget that the pack comes with three new characters – the Animal Crossing Villager (both male and female), Isabelle the dog, also from Animal Crossing, and Dry Bowser, a skeletal version of Bowser. Each is fun to use in their own way, though I’m not one for the bigger drivers, so struggled with Dry Bowser.
The content also comes with several new vehicles to try out, with two karts, a bike, an ATV, tires and a glider. Of course, we here at Pure Nintendo are happy to see a P-wing-inspired design among the bunch.
There’s little else to say when you’re given new Mario Kart tracks other than download and enjoy. If you already have the original game you know exactly how great it is – Mario Kart has never needed extra content to make the fun last – but the added content is so glorious in its design that it truly makes it feel like a whole new game all over again. Purists may not agree with the use of characters outside of the Mario universe, but it’s done so well that the newcomers feel like special guests and the themed tracks themselves a homage to Mario Kart from their point of view.
It’s a duet done very well and I can only end by reiterating my summary from the first DLC pack review – go and enjoy this content. Now.