You know the drill by now! The DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe began March 18, 2022 for $24.99. At the time, the price tag raised eyebrows. I was skeptical too after the first wave dropped. Despite a few clunkers, most of the additions have been quite fun. If you need to get caught up, see my reviews for Wave 1 and Wave 2.
In this review, I’ll be covering Waves 3 and 4. Ready, set, go!
Few of the Tour tracks have matched the visual polish found elsewhere in the game. London Loop is no exception. The word serviceable comes to mind. An upbeat rock theme accompanies a milquetoast showcase of famous landmarks: the London Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben, the Thames river, double-decker buses, and red phone booths. I laughed during the final lap when I saw an unleashed Chain Chomp splashing through the Thames. You won’t hate this track, but it may not stick with you.
This is a spooky, aquatic nighttime track. The music instrumentation is reminiscent of the GBA game from whence it hails. There’s not much in the way of eye candy; the track is a series of wooden planks partially submerged in water. The underwater jumps and speed ramps are enjoyable, and the angular track design makes for some abrupt turns. While anti-gravity mode kicks in briefly, I found myself longing for something to elevate the experience. Perhaps kamikaze Fish Bone enemies leaping out of the water?
Rock Rock Mountain was used repeatedly in commercials for Mario Kart 7 when the glider mechanic was first introduced. There’s a nice sense of progression as you move through rock tunnels, glide over treetops, and finally scale a mountain in anti-gravity mode as boulders plummet from above. It’s a solid track with several fun stretches where you can overtake your opponents.
This is a bright, bouncy track with a lot of terrain variations and lovely colors. The music has a jovial country vibe with an undercurrent of brassy jazz. It’s comically at odds with the mayhem this track invites. There’s a tree cannon that shoots you across the track, two giant wigglers that attempt to stomp you, piles of leaves hiding power-ups, bumpy tree roots that give you a boost, and several parallel paths. Near the end, there’s a great anti-gravity spot that offers serious drifting. One of my favorites!
Berlin Byways is an interesting urban track with addicting, invigorating, patriotic dance club music—yes, you read that correctly. The track’s layout may give you déjà vu this close to London Loop, but it offers more variation. Notable are the Whomps on the third lap that face-plant onto the pavement. You’ll have to skillfully weave between traffic in addition to watching out for your enemies. Signposting was a problem for me in a few areas that looked drivable but weren’t—at least not on the first lap. Still, Berlin Byways is a track I look forward to playing repeatedly just for its amazing music.
Fancy a tea party in the garden? The music is whimsical and fun, using strings to add a royal air to the proceedings. Along one stretch, Monty Mole pops out of the ground to wreck havoc. Chain Chomps and Piranha Plants have their own little biomes, which I quite liked. Soaring over the garden on the third lap is an especially fun way to conclude the track. You’ll find lots of big turns but nothing extreme. Ultimately, Peach Gardens is well-themed and enjoyable.
This is one merry track indeed! I enjoyed the two areas that employ anti-gravity: an early vertical ramp and a steep finishing swoop. The inclusion of high and low paths adds lap variation. The music is punchy Christmas fare with hints of Parisian influence. Candy canes, snow, and twinkling lights are treats for the senses. In the background, there’s a flying locomotive that delivers presents and tosses coins onto the raceway. The track is roughly the shape of a trapezoid and a bit short, but it nonetheless jingles my bells.
This version of Rainbow Road leads you over the crater-riddled surface of the moon and around the rings of Saturn. The music is appropriately spacey with hints of techno. Instead of three laps, this features one lengthy race to the end. Eventually, you have to drop off the rainbow track (it’s riddled with holes, after all) and engage anti-gravity mode on the moon’s surface. There you’ll face off against a giant-sized Chain Chomp while zipping in and out of craters. It’s a fun, challenging experience that usually leaves me frustrated—but it a good way. Must. Get. Better!
Windmills and monorails help distinguish this track from London Loop and Berlin Byways. Lap two features a good helping of underwater racing in the canals, and there’s a little bit of gliding when you resurface. Perhaps the most memorable bit is a tulip field on the last stretch of the third lap. As for the music, I like the choir element—it’s an “oo-ahh” kind of thing, possibly synthesized. Difficult to pinpoint but enjoyable. That’s a perfect summary of Amsterdam Drift.
You would think this track was inspired by Donkey Kong due to its jungle vibe. A waterfall, a cave, a wooden bridge over rapids—oh, and sprinkle in some mud and walking piranha plants. The music really slaps in a good way. The track strikes an ideal balance in terms of length. There’s a super long drift that leads you through a cavern until you reach a jump-off point. In certain spots, this track gives me flashbacks to Choco Mountain. Perhaps not a game-changing track but certainly not bad.
Where there’s snow, there’s ice. Not really profound, is it? That’s the case with DK Summit, a fun-enough winter track with some memorable bunny slopes and speedups. The snowboarding Shy Guys are a nice touch. Personally, I find the last stretch to be the most enjoyable because you can do half-pipes and grab some air. The music is peppy and serviceable but I doubt you’ll remember it afterward. Except for the barrel that shoots you up the mountain, there’s not much to associate this with Donkey Kong.
The music and graphics are the star of Yoshi’s Island. You’ll have a smile on your face even in last place. There’s a brief underwater bit, a cave bit, a steep winding peak the culminates in a jump, and a bit in the clouds before you speed back down the mountain. It’s nothing new, but the real attraction is the level theming. Shy Guys on stilts! Poochy! You can even activate a sky bridge if you manage to glide into a cloud-shaped question mark—a nice nod to the original Yoshi’s Island for Super Nintendo.
Now here’s a track with flavor! It’s got a shallow river section with boats that double as ramps. Stairs that lead to a second tier. A marketplace, a warm pink and gold sunset, a fun parking garage where you can drift through three floors before jumping off—these are great features. An exotic musical accompaniment caps off the whole experience. Lots of fun. It’s as if Tokyo Blur finally found its groove!
A bit of a palate cleanser, Mario Circuit evokes the tried-and-true formula of older, more grounded tracks. It puts the focus on driving rather than thrills. Still, fire-breathing piranha plants will ruin your day unless you dodge skillfully. There’s also a nice hairpin turn before the end that keeps things interesting. You won’t hate it or love it, so at worst it’s redundant and at best inoffensive. What this track ultimately does is underscore how much the series has developed over time.
A fun, muddy good time! This feels like a blood relative of Wario Stadium. The music suggests a super-charged gameshow with lots of wild spectators. You’ve got jumps, a secondary level with ramps, rotating chains of fireballs, and enormous sliding cardboard cutouts of piranha plants. Lots of mini-jumps and a solid use of drifting will keep you on your toes. Ladies and gentleman, we have a winner!
The lights and sights of this track are beautiful. It’s got a peppy tune that evokes Coconut Mall after midnight, a sort of carnival vibe or a trip to Las Vegas. A few of the attractions: multi-colored arches, three gliding areas, and a short jaunt through a market that looks suspiciously like China Town. Lap one is a bit short, but subsequent laps are longer. The track has several spots for drifting, plenty of ramps, and lots of terrain variation. Probably the best track from Tour so far.
The value proposition of the Booster Course Pack grows better with each wave drop. Even with a few clunkers, I am spoiled for choice. At times, the sheer number of tracks is overwhelming. It’s a wonderful problem to have! Waves 5 and 6 have been out in the wild for months now, so I’ll be setting my sights on those soon. Keep your foot on the pedal—we’re almost to the finish line.