Nintendo has finally released its second batch of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe downloadable tracks, which is a tumultuous. Here are a few of Mario Kart''s finest moments, along with a few additional highlights, throwbacks, and a brand-new entry.
Nintendo has added eight courses divided into two cups. (Sadly, there is still no sign of extra kart pieces or characters, including Birdo.) And if you''re not up to speed (sorry), players have already determined what other upcoming DLC courses will likely be.
The first video from the mobile game Mario Kart Tour''s roster includes a list of city landmarks. I''ll get this out the way right now, but the Mushroom Kingdom purist in me is not disappointed by the inclusion of real-world cities.
It''s important to be aware of this remarkable take on New York nightlife, its swinging jazz soundtrack, and its well-designed map dividing central Park. As usual, the layout here shifts every lap - resulting in a claustrophobic descent into and out of an underground parking garage. This is almost as effective as Tour gets.
From Tour''s newly-designed neon of New York, we next begin the journey to Mario Circuit 3''s primary colours - this is a straightforward journey from Mario Kart''s origins, presented here with a few tweaks.
The flat screen, however, has a sulphur yellow sky and only the most basic of ingredients - oil slicks, a final boost pad - to spice things up. Perhaps this is for you. Otherwise, there''s still a lot to think about.
Onto the good stuff. Mario Kart 64''s Kalimari Desert was already a classic, but this version of it certainly improves on the previous. Not only has Nintendo done a great job on how the level looks, despite the low sun''s reflection and the landscape developing far away, but it has also intelligently altered the map''s layout owing to its more recent inclusion in the Mario Kart Tour. (Ok, I admit, Tour isn''t all bad.)
The original N64 route is followed until the second lap, where a ramp takes you onto the level''s famous train. From here it''s a muddy train tunnel and another encounter with the locomotive itself, which you must avoid before a final victory lap out on the sand. This is Mario Kart.
There''s Waluigi Pinball, who plays the last course in this cup, which is really worth a lot of attention - and it looks absolutely stunning here. Wave 1''s dazzling designs often reveal their mobile development roots. This improves productivity by allowing some of the aims - pretty straightforward, I have to say - at a few of the changes made in this lightspeed level. It also increases the amount of friction between the two, allowing for a wide range of balls and ballroom maneuvers.
Nintendo has wisely kept this course as close as possible to the DS original, with further polish to its Tour incarnation visuals. Every section of this track is thrilling, from its impressive entry lift to its rollercoaster-like slalom and manic dash across the pinball table''s main surface, covered with bumpers and flippers. Mario Kart does not get any better than this.
Onto the second of this wave''s cups, which kicks off with a second Tour entry, the Sydney Sprint. Set around the city''s iconic harbour area, this offers a memorable day each lap, so it almost feels like one of the game''s rare point-to-point races.
There''s nothing there you haven''t seen in a Mario Kart track before - it''s like a Toad Harbor off-brand from the main game - but there''s a few nice touches such as the ramps along Sydney''s harbor bridge and the ending sprint, which lets you jump through the windows of the opera house. All in all, it''s okay.
Snow Land from the Game Boy Advance isn''t a track I''m overly familiar with, although I''m aware it''s made a few changes from its quite basic one here. These seem to have been well-received - and it now stands as a major component of Mario Kart''s long history of ice tracks. Expect slippery terrain, a frozen lake to race around, and penguins.
This track is yet to appear in the Mario Kart Tour (though it is expected to happen in the future) and returns in this DLC for the first time since its original incarnation 21 years ago. It''s fine.
Mushroom Gorge was one of the Wii''s best tracks, or at least one of its most memorable. I was instantly reminded of the seemingly randomness of its bouncy toadstools, and of the dangers that come from thinking you can try and make it over two in one bounce. You can''t. Even if you have a mushroom.
As previously said, this is a fast and deceptively unforgiving course if you can''t guide your kart properly while bouncing around atop toadstools. It also looks the part, with classic Mushroom Kingdom vibes intersperced by trips through its glowing crystal-laden cave. A very special addition.
Sky-High Sundae, an all-new track, is slowly coming to Tour. While Mario Kart is not as good as Mario Kart 8''s Sweet Sweet Canyon, it does have its moments.
The opening glide through a hole in an ice cream cone gives a really calming start, but I love the long curve over neon cake frosting next to a street of tiny houses. Also, the ice cream helicopter you can spot at one stage. Overall, though, it''s also fun.
And that''s it! Until later this year, at any rate. It''s a strong selection, all-in-all, and likely to be a highlight of the overall DLC timetable - though there''s plenty more to come once the anticipated roster of additions is addressed. What you''re enjoying, and what you''re hoping to add next?