PN Mini-review: Mario Kart 8 DLC Wrap-up
As most avid Mario Kart fans would know by now, Nintendo’s first paid downloadable content (DLC) for Mario Kart 8 was released last weekend. We’ve had a few days to play through the pack, which contains eight new courses, three new characters and four new vehicles to try out. And it’s nothing short of brilliant.
Mario Kart 8, released in May 2014, was very well-received at the time, scoring a generous 9/10 from our review and receiving praise by fans for its fresh new directions in video capturing, online tournaments and anti-gravity mechanics.
Now the innovations continue with the first of two planned DLC packs, the first of its kind in a Mario Kart game. This pack is called The Legend of Zelda X Mario Kart 8, and comes with a plethora of new goodies to try, including three new characters, two completely new cups containing four tracks each, plus four vehicles and a couple of other vehicle parts.
Along with all new tracks comes three characters to choose from. Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach are special versions of our favorite plumber and princess, both making their Mario Kart debuts. But it’s Link from The Legend of Zelda series who makes the biggest impression with this pack, as the first non-Mario character to appear in the series. Whilst some fans find this move controversial and against the principles of the game, it is the basis of this pack, a cross-over of sorts that’s meant to be something special and unique in addition to the regular game. Think of Link as a special guest in Mario’s game, rather than an intruder.
Using Link is an absolute blast, it’s actually refreshing to see someone new and Link looks as though he’s really enjoying himself – he punches the air after winning a race and thrusts his sword into the air after performing stunts. He looks very comfortable behind the wheel and also very determined to win.
Not since the retro cups first appeared in Mario Kart DS have we had any deviation from the standard set of cups in a Mario Kart title. Now we have two new cups in our midst: the Egg Cup and the Triforce Cup. Each one contains the usual four tracks, but with a mixture of five new and three retro tracks overall. Let’s go over each track:
- Yoshi Circuit (GameCube) – A retro track from the GameCube, this is a tight track full of twists and turns that will have you power-sliding like crazy to stay on course. There are piranha plants to chomp at you if you veer too close, and a very nice shortcut to try with a mushroom. Overall an intense track for confident kart racers.
- Excitebike Arena – Although a seemingly much easier track, this is one of the most fun, and is set on a dirt bike track based on the NES game, Excitebike. It’s an extremely fun homage to the classic game, with plenty of ramps to jump and mud to avoid. But look closely each time you play – the jumps actually change position each time, with over 200 versions of this track to play through!
- Dragon Driftway – One of the best of the new tracks, this is a particularly creative track set on giant dragon that loops in on itself. There are sections of bricks reminiscent of temples, continuing the Chinese theme, and much of the course occurs in anti-gravity mode. It’s a very nicely designed track that looks impressive and features a fast and furious trip through a different world. It can be hectic on your first trip through, but like all Mario Kart tracks, with each replay you’ll learn its pathways and secrets, which is half the fun.
- Mute City – another new track set in a futuristic city based on the F-Zero series. The main difference with this track is that the entire race occurs in anti-gravity mode, the only track with this feature. There are many references to F-Zero along the way, like signs and buildings, and the race is a great way to end the cup, with many speed boosts making this a particularly fast track.
- Wario’s Gold Mine – hailing from the Wii, this retro track twists through a gold mine, with hills and jumps, annoying bats and thundering minecarts, ramps and shortcuts to keep your heart racing. It also looks glorious in HD compared to the Wii version.
- Rainbow Road – the original Rainbow Road that started it all on the SNES, this track made a staple out of adding a beautiful yet challenging final race of every Mario Kart game, with tight turns and crushing Thwomps, all on a deadly strip of multi-colored road without borders to stop you careening off the edge. Thank goodness for Lakitu’s fishing pole!
- Ice Ice Outpost – a new track that’s perhaps the weakest of the eight, but not because it’s bad, just that the others tend to outshine it. It features an icy setting with a road that splits into two pathways, colored yellow and green. There’s plenty of tight turns, glacial shortcuts, and rotating bars for anti-gravity boosts, and some cute Toads cheering you on in the background.
- Hyrule Circuit – This course wraps up the cup and reinforces the Zelda theme with a beautiful homage to The Legend of Zelda. This circuit is set in a Hyrule-like world, featuring a track weaving through the grasses of Hyrule field before cutting through a castle and a small village. But it’s the little touches that make it shine, like Rupees in place of coins, familiar enemies like Keese, an instantly-recognizable remix of the Zelda theme song, and even a hidden Master Sword unlocked by driving a certain way. This is an unabashed love letter to The Legend of Zelda from the makers of Mario Kart – its like when your two favorite artists collaborate on a song and it actually works out for the best. And if you top it all off by playing this course with Link on his new bike, you can’t help but smile in appreciation.
Karts and parts
Let’s not forget the new vehicles that come with this pack:
- Blue Falcon – one of the many vehicles from the F-Zero series, which also appeared in Mario Kart Wii.
- B Dasher – famous as Mario’s first kart in Mario Kart DS.
- Master Cycle – Link’s bike, based on Epona from The Legend of Zelda series
- Tanooki Kart – a quad bike resembling a jeep, it has a wheel on the back colored to look like a tanooki tail and has a small metal Tanooki Leaf in the middle.
- Triforce Tires – a new pair of tires based on The Legend of Zelda series.
- Hylian Kite – a new glider based on The Legend of Zelda series.
The pack comes at a price of $7.99, which is reasonable for the amount and quality of content provided. If it was just tracks, or just characters, it would feel a little shallow, but with so much to try out, it’s really like receiving a new mini-Mario Kart game in itself. It gets even better if you download pack 1 and 2 together for $11.99 (or pre-order pack 2 since it won’t be out until May 2015).
If you’re a Mario Kart fan, you will love this pack and if you haven’t already, go and download it now. This pack contains the perfect amount of new content to reinvigorate your karting experience after 6 months of play on the original. The new tracks are fresh, fast and fun, mixing new and old elements into something as memorable as the best classic Mario Kart tracks. Link is a special edition and takes the karting experience beyond the Mario universe to add even more variety and fun to the mix.
Seriously, go and enjoy this content. Now.
Check out all the info on Mario Kart’s DLC on the official Mario Kart 8 website.