Mario Kart 8 received its second DLC pack today which included 3 characters, 4 vehicles and 8 new tracks to race around. So, does it deliver? I’m going to break down the pack, piece by piece, and see if it’s worth it.
Even though the pack does include characters and vehicles, the courses are the meat of this DLC. They are all lovingly detailed with that Nintendo charm and just a joy to look at. But how do they play? I’m glad to report almost all of the tracks are incredibly fun to race through and are well designed to boot.
Baby Park is an insane 7 lap track from Double Dash. Being the shortest track in the game, it’s filled to the brim with insanity at both turns. With 12 racers and item boxes spread throughout, there will most certainly be mayhem but in an enjoyable way. The track is short enough to go from 1st to 12th all the way back to 1st but it isn’t frustrating. Adding zero-gravity into the mix and you’ll have a blast with the course.
Cheese Land, surprisingly, ended up being one of my favorite tracks from this pack. While the aesthetic is somewhat boring, the track itself is great. With a ton of short cuts and Chain Chomp hazards, Cheese Land is a well designed course that really improves on the original incarnation from the GBA Super Circuit.
Wild Woods might be my favorite track in concept alone. Starting completely vertical on a tree trunk, Wild Woods takes you through a beautiful forest area. Twisting and turning around a massive tree, the course takes you through a village inside the tree which Shy Guys inhabit. It puts the zero-gravity mechanic to great use and is just a fun track overall.
Animal Crossing….oh Animal Crossing. One of my favorite series from Nintendo is lovingly recreated in glorious HD and it is magnificent. The track itself is rather simple in design but is that way on purpose. Combined with the amazing remix of Animal Crossing tracks, the different seasons the course will randomly go through and all your favorite villagers, this course creates the calm and relaxing feel of Animal Crossing perfectly. Definitely one of the best tracks of the pack and it makes me long for an HD Animal Crossing game for Wii U.
Neo Bowser City is by far the worst track you’ll get in this DLC. It’s not so much that the track is bad by any means, it just lacks anything interesting. It feels uninspired in both design and aesthetic with Big Blue and Mute City blowing it away in terms of a futuristic city location. The one thing I do enjoy is the gorgeous rain visuals this course sports but other than that, a very boring track that I won’t revisit anytime soon.
Ribbon Road, similar to Wild Woods, has an amazing concept but lacks a real interesting track design that would’ve pushed it over the edge. It’s head and shoulders above it’s original form from Super Circuit, with zero-gravity sections that makes the course actually move like a ribbon and gliding sections where you dodge Clown Copter-in-a-Box toys. Setting the track in a kids room is unique as well as enjoyable to look at and find all the neat Easter eggs. Overall a decent track with very cool aesthetic.
Super Bell Subway nails both the design and concept. Set in, well a Subway, this course takes the idea of branching paths and short cuts and runs with it which I feel makes this course stand out. You can make each lap totally different depending on which way you go and with trains dynamically influencing each race, it’s a real joy to be had. Originally, I wasn’t feeling the Subway setting but over time the little details, like the train-lines being actual courses in Mario Kart 8, won me over.
Finally Big Blue which is one of the more unique tracks in terms of gimmicks in the pack. The course is a one lap track which is adds some variety to the course selection. It also features conveyor belts, similar to the ones found on Rainbow Road, which you have to maneuver in an out of, creating a hectic racing environment. Accompanied by one of the best remixes in the entire game, Big Blue is a blast to race through. With Mute City and Big Blue making an appearance, something tells me the developers of Mario Kart 8 really want to make an F-Zero game.
Overall, the courses are great and a welcome addition to the game. Similar to DLC Pack 1, there are more great tracks than boring ones which will add longevity to Mario Kart 8 in general.
Also similar to DLC Pack 1 the characters aren’t that great. They seem like they were thrown together with no real thought or care which makes sense when you think about the scope of each pack in general.
Villager, both male and female variants, are awesome to play as. They sport taunts and celebrations with animations and sound straight from Animal Crossing and as a fan of the series they’re fun to race with. Same thing goes with Isabelle from New Leaf. The flat about adorable nature of these characters is a different take on a racer and they’re welcome additions to the game.
Dry Bowser, on the other hand, was a boring character to add. While I like the design of him, his inclusion just seems pointless. Just like Cat Peach and Tanooki Mario from Pack 1, they’re essentially skins of characters already in the game and just aren’t really worth playing as. Where’s Bowser Jr. , Professor E. Gadd, King Boo or Diddy Kong? Dry Bowser just feels like wasted potential for another, better, more unique character and is overall disappointing. But hey, 2/3 isn’t bad.
Finally we get the to vehicles and, to be frank, they all feel similar to other vehicles in the game. The Streetle feels like any other 4 wheeled cart, same thing goes with the P-Wing. The City Tripper is your standard bike if a bit slow. Dry Bowser’s Bone Rattler is the coolest of the bunch if only for it’s 3 wheeled design. They all look good and drive good so no complaints here.
A free update accompanied the DLC Pack 2 and it included a few extras. The list of amiibo outfits for your Mii characters was expanded. Now, if you scan your Toad, Bowser, Wario, Rosalina, Olimar, Villager, Mega Man, Pac-Man or Sonic amiibo into Mario Kart 8 you can have a cool custom Mii outfit. I don’t own all of them but I will say, being able to race in Mario Kart dressed as Sonic is admittedly wrong on so many levels but awesome at the same time.
The update also added 200cc to the mix as well. When I first saw this addition in the latest Direct, I wasn’t too impressed with it. Upon playing it however, it totally changes the game. You’ve never gone this fast in any Mario Kart game before and it’s simultaneously exhilarating and difficult. It forced me to use the brake, which I had never touched once in my entire 40+ hours with Mario Kart 8.
Overall, DLC Pack 2 for Mario Kart 8 is totally worth the asking price. In my opinion, this is how you do DLC by giving the player a ton of content. Sure Dry Bowser and Neo Bowser City aren’t the best additions but the rest of the pack delivers. With great tracks and music, Animal Crossing all over the place and the welcome additions of new Mii outfits and 200cc, DLC Pack 2 will surely breath new life into Mario Kart 8 for the time being and is well worth the price of admission.
Image sourced from gamespot
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