Ranking the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Tracks: Wave 1 - ArticleEvan Norris , posted on 22 March 2022 / 3,859 Views
Mario Kart 8 is the gift that keeps giving. When it arrived on the WiiU in 2014 it became, arguably, the best racing game of all time. Three years later, when it launched as a deluxe model on the WiiU's successor, the Switch, it had miraculously become even better, thanks to an overhauled battle mode and the inclusion of all previously-released DLC. Now, five years after that, it receives eight additional remastered courses — the first of 48 planned DLC tracks, which will bring the grand total to 96 by the end of 2023.
After playing through the eight new tracks over the weekend — including a lengthy online session with friends and family Saturday night — I'm ready to rank the first wave, starting with the weakest addition and ending with the very best.
Tokyo Blur (Mario Kart Tour)
One of the new tracks has to be last, and regrettably it's Tokyo Blur. It's a bummer, too. The setting is great, thanks to a striking opening view of Mount Fuji and Tokyo Tower, and street racing that calls to mind Ridge Racer. Unfortunately, the track just isn't very exciting. It's too wide — something true of several of the DLC courses, owing to their origins in Mario Kart Tour — and too bland. It's worth noting the Tokyo Blur in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe combines three variants from Tour, which means an alternative third lap on the Tokyo highway, which is definitely the highlight.
Toad Circuit (Mario Kart 7)
Toad Circuit has taken a bit of an online drubbing over the last 72 hours. Fans are not exactly wild about its inclusion in this first wave of DLC. I think they're overreacting just a tad. Toad Circuit is definitely not a world-beater, but it's hardly a nightmare either. Let's remember: Toad Circuit started as the first track in the first cup in Mario Kart 7. It's meant to be an introductory course. Is it vanilla? Yes, but it's not half bad, particularly for folks looking for a straightforward racing experience.
Shroom Ridge (Mario Kart DS)
Shroom Ridge feels like it's constantly on the verge of breaking out into something special, but it never does. It's decent enough, especially on higher CCs, as racers weave dangerously through busy traffic, but rather straightforward and predictable. The developers at Nintendo added a couple of shortcuts to this Mario Kart 8 Deluxe version, but it's not quite enough to make the track essential.
Sky Garden (Mario Kart: Super Circuit)
Sky Garden has a lot to like. It's one of the prettiest new tracks, thanks to clear blue skies, billowy white clouds, and an armada of propeller-driven airships floating in the distance. It also boasts some fun banking turns and a nice sensation of height. Finally, the music is bouncy and catchy. It has only one big drawback: its length. The track is just over far too quickly.
Coconut Mall (Mario Kart Wii)
Now we get to the good stuff. Coconut Mall has been a fan-favorite since the Wii days, and it's great to see it reappear on Nintendo's latest console. Thanks to its shopping center setting, escalator-like conveyor belts, and branching paths, it feels like its own thing. Now, I won't lie. This Mario Kart 8 Deluxe variant is a slight downgrade from the Wii days. The escalators are now glowing ramps — similar to but more garish than those from the Mario Kart 7 version — and the cars in the last stretch of each lap no longer move, but these are small things relative to the overall creativity of the base track.
Paris Promenade (Mario Kart Tour)
Paris Promenade is perhaps the most inviting of this first wave of DLC tracks. It's an airy, cheerful level brought to life thanks to jaunty accordion music and lovely views of Paris landmarks, including but not limited to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. In terms of track design, it's surprisingly good, with branching paths, a few tight corners, and an alternative third lap that sends racers in reverse, a la Luigi Circuit.
Choco Mountain (Mario Kart 64)
If you came to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe right from Mario Kart 64, you'd find Choco Mountain almost unrecognizable. Based on the Tour version of the track, Choco Mountain in Deluxe feels new and improved, owing to a cave area with bright crystals and bat-like Swoops, a hang glider section, and an immensely satisfying ascending curve with hazardous falling boulders and some silly fossils embedded in the adjacent dirt wall. This one's worth racing again and again.
Ninja Hideaway (Mario Kart Tour)
Forget about "best of wave 1". Ninja Hideaway is one of the best courses to grace Mario Kart, period. In terms of art direction, it's spectacular, with a fully-realized Japanese dojo complete with water wheel, collapsing ceilings spiked with shurikens, and shy guy ninjas disappearing into thin air. The music is some of the most thumping of the entire series. Finally, there's the track itself, separated into two main routes that drivers can swap between at several intervals. There's an elevated route that takes racers across rafters and wooden scaffolding, and a ground level route that weaves through sparring rooms, a water way, and, eventually, rooftops. It's a tour de force.
So, that's my take on the first eight tracks of the Booster Course DLC. For those of you who've already tried this first wave, how does it line up with your own ranking? Sound off in the comments section with your thoughts!
Imo Shroom Ridge is by far the best new track. It's so much fun to drive through the S-turns. Sky Garden is the only new track which is just more of the same in every aspect of design, so imo it's the weakest and most unnecessary. I hope we get some anti gravity sections in the next wave. The first DLC feels a bit too much copy paste from MK Tour and sometimes visually underwhelming.
Amazing! My list would almost be the exact opposite :D
I guess it depends if your focus is driving or spectacle. Ninja Hideaway is quite messy and open, and not particulary satisfying for pinpoint accurate drifts. Coconut Mall has the same problem, many open spaces. So, my favourites are your bottom 3: Shroom Ridge (super fun in Time Trial, trying to find an ideal line), Toad Circuit and Tokyo Blur. Ah well ¯|(ツ)/¯
Thanks for sharing! I think it’s pretty cool that two people can enjoy the game in such dramatically different ways. I really appreciate your perspective :)
Nintendo, purposely or not, just made Mario Kart better IMO by adding tracks without the unnecessary and very gimmicky anti-gravity stuff. Thanks Nintendo.
It seems like the complaints for the DLC before it arrived were unfounded once again by Nintendo fans and the tracks are actually pretty neat. They aren't new, but the work done isn't as minimal as people pointed out. I'm sure this is more of a side project to bank in on a game that is selling 5-7 million copies a year still while working on the next Mario Kart game.
This is also exciting since these DLC confirm MKtour as a real entry, so the next game will be MK10 which just usually push for bigger marketing and possibilities.
MK Tour is actually more motivating to play every week than Mario Kart 8, because you can unlock so much stuff and you have weekly events. Visually and control-wise it's a downgrade coming from MK8, though.
I'm actually surprised the tour tracks are that good. So yeah. Nice to be able to play them with buttons.