The second wave of DLC for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has dropped! On Aug. 4, 2022, Nintendo released the Turnip Cup and the Propeller Cup, containing four tracks apiece. You can read about the first eight tracks added in Wave 1 here. While the overall experience for Wave 1 was a mixed bag, I thought the positives outweighed the negatives.
So, how does Wave 2 compare? These eight “new” tracks are equal to or better than those in Wave 1. None of them is a bold interpretation of an older track. They’re all functional adaptations. That’s not intended as an insult. I’m simply underscoring the fact that Nintendo has only afforded its DLC a modest level of visual polish. Textures are decent, but the polygons are a little blocky. Still, the core racing experience remains as solid as ever, so folks who prioritize gameplay over graphics will be satisfied.
Turnip Cup tracks
Propeller Cup tracks
New York Minute (Tour)
Few locations are as iconic to Americans as New York City. Nintendo gave us an unforgettable sendup of the Big Apple in the form of New Donk City from 2017’s Super Mario Odyssey. Here we get something less awesome. Forget that the track shares its title with a Mary-Kate and Ashley movie from 2004. New York Minute feels predictable in how it routes its racers through Central Park, beneath that famous bridge seen in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and then finally through downtown traffic.
It’s not bad. It’s not amazing. It gets the job done and lends itself well to frantic online races. Worth noting is an open manhole that gushes a geyser of water toward the end of the track. If you perform a trick over the geyser, you’ll land on top of a van with its own ramp that activates your glider. New York Minute is blissfully short, so even if you find it dull, you won’t be bored for long.
Mario Circuit 3 (SNES)
The novelty of this track is paradoxically its familiarity. All the twists and turns of the original are intact, but now they’re in 3D. What it’s missing are some new bells and whistles. Other SNES tracks made the transition into 3D with fun additions—ramps, underwater bits, mole hills—but Mario Circuit 3 has only one hairpin turn and one speed boost.
This is ultimately a classic track with no new frills. Like New York Minute, it’s not bad, but you probably won’t love it unless you’re nostalgic for the SNES Mario Kart. If you have boost mushrooms, you can skip some of the abrupt turns and leave your opponents in the dust. Perhaps the absence of extravagance will allow racers to focus on racing rather than blasting each other with items.
Kalamari Desert (N64)
Kalamari Desert updates a fan-favorite N64 track with some snazzy new features: a handful of ramps lining the inner and outer edges of the main track, one big jump that will send you airborne, and a curved platform that rises from the ground during the second lap. Perhaps the biggest update involves the train—oh, that train! Historically, the train makes pancakes of folks who cross its tracks at inopportune times. That still happens, but now you get a chance to drive face-first into the train when the course loops back on itself!
Thematically, Kalamari Desert is similar to Yoshi Valley with its western motif; crisp, burnt orange hues envelope a prominent sunset, creating a distinct atmosphere. It’s a tasteful update to a familiar track. Take notice, Nintendo! This in an excellent example of how to modernize old tracks without sacrificing the nostalgic elements.
Waluigi Pinball (DS)
Ah, what a rush! I’m a newcomer to Waluigi Pinball. How much is new and how much is old? I don’t know, but it’s all excellent. Taking place inside a giant pinball machine, racers barrel along at lightning speeds. The colors are bright and energetic. Exhilarating turns and numerous ramps populate the track. Don’t forget the hazards! Giant pinballs, bumpers, and flippers can wreck your groove in the final stretch.
Depending on the speed of your racer, you may need to hit the brakes while drifting around some of the sidewinder turns. Drifters, this is one for you! Waluigi Pinball is an excellent addition worthy of the “Deluxe” moniker.
Sydney Sprint (Tour)
A colorful, energetic trip with plenty of twists, a string of ramps, and numerous opportunities to pull off tricks. What more could you want? The theming works well thanks to the diversity of Sydney itself. Similar to other tracks from Mario Kart Tour, Sydney Sprint mixes up your route depending on the lap number. The variations include zooming through the grand Sydney Opera House, gliding across a large body of water (Sydney Harbor), and sidewinding through a park.
Sydney Sprint never overstays its welcome, and the lap variation keeps the experience feeling fresh. The spunky music is a blast. I especially love taking the bridge ramps in rapid succession—they give you a wild speed boost reminiscent of the the ExciteBike track. Top-notch.
Snow Land (GBA)
Oh, Snow Land… and here I thought Tokyo Blur deserved an award for dullest track ever. Dull is too generous a word for Snow Land. Even the track’s name can’t limp over the finish line (creatively speaking). Better winter-themed tracks already exist, such as Mount Wario and Ice Ice Outpost. Except for a ramp over a bridge near the finish line, Snow Land is a tame experience. Its music is pleasant and the visuals are nice, but this track didn’t make the transition to 3D with much inspiration.
In contrast, Ribbon Road and Cheese Land, both of which were originally 2D tracks, received fun, imaginative makeovers. Perhaps the nicest thing I can say about Snow Land is that it has penguins. Then again, Sherbet Land already has penguins. Hmm. Sorry, Snow Land. You stink.
Mushroom Gorge (Wii)
Mushroom Gorge was one of my favorite tracks from Mario Kart Wii. As in the original version, opportunities for tricks are numerous. The cavern filled with mushrooms near the end of the lap makes for a frantic finish as opponents bounce all over the place. More than any other track, this one gives me grief when I use motion controls—which I use 99% of the time. If the Joy-Con isn’t completely horizontal when I bounce on the mushrooms, there’s no telling which way my kart will spill out. That’s my burden to bear, though.
I only noticed one addition to the Switch version of the track, which is a pair of mushrooms on the left side shortly after the starting line. If you have a boost mushroom, you can zip off the track, land on the mushrooms, and bounce back onto the track. It’s a risky shortcut that I haven’t seen many folks employ online. Overall, Mushroom Gorge is a solid (OK, spongey) track that loses nothing in translation.
A brand-new track! Yes! Neon colors and delicious, tantalizing frozen treats abound. Sky-High Sundae is a visual buffet built on the concept of verticality. You may find yourself yearning for a solid stretch of road because the track is mostly uphill. There’s a bit before the finish line where you’ll drift across the flattened tops of ice cream scoops. It’s pretty fun, but the scoops have small gaps on their outer edges. I frequently fall between them when heavier racers pummel my kart.
The scale in Sky-High Sundae makes me feel like I’m driving a toy car through the frozen food section of a supermarket. The race actually begins in an icebox. One small curiosity: early in the track, racers barrel down a flight of steps with a yellow handrail. The handrail looks like a hazard, but you can actually pass through it unharmed. I was surprised by this since colliding with track elements normally stops you cold. Here, the developers had mercy on the players.
So, that’s two DLC waves down! Four more to go. Nintendo has the remainder of 2022 and all of 2023 to roll out the other cups. After that, who knows what’s next? Perhaps we’ll get a true sequel in the form of Mario Kart 9. However, by going the DLC route with Mario Kart 8, Nintendo is keeping an 8-year-old game on life support and saving on development costs. Not too shabby.
Still, this raises an important question: what classic tracks will be left for Mario Kart 9? Will MK9 be entirely original? Will the series shift in a new direction? They could do something like a remix feature that strings together Track A for lap one, Track B for one lap two, and Track C for lap three. This would keep racers on their toes at all times, never knowing where they’ll be racing on the next lap.
Nintendo, if you like my idea, let’s talk.