Mario Kart 8 DLC 2 Review

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Posted April 24, 2015 by Sean Capri in Video Games

Could this be the greatest DLC value of all time? Nintendo has fulfilled their promise, a few weeks early, and dropped the second batch of DLC for Mario Kart 8 this week.

I need 50cc’s stat!

Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let me just say that 200cc is perfection. Technically not part of the DLC, this free add-on made April 23 feel extra special. Not only were we treated to perfectly charming and challenging new tracks – RibbonRoad! – but each of the earlier 40 tracks felt brand new and out of the wrapper. My entire face was smiling while I slid out of control on Donut Plains 3 (my personal favorite, mostly because of the music) and seeing all the other karters do the exact same thing! The mode is unlocked immediately for online play but you’ll have to do some homework on 150cc before unlocking it for yourself on the single player side. I dove right into online play with our very own Stephanie Hall and we were flying!

This blows things wide open for future iterations of the game and is just so ridiculous that it actually works. This free add-on is more substantial than most $15 DLC packs on their own. Somehow, Nintendo managed to keep things from getting too out of hand. I was worried the power-up warfare that has always dominated Mario Kart games combined with the mayhem of F-Zero-esque speeds might be a little too much to bear. But this is wonderfully balanced. In fact, in many instances, I found the speed actually helped me when I fell out of line. When struck by a lightning bolt, I’ve always struggled with knowing when I could begin drifting again but with 200cc, you can mini-drift to you heart’s content. Also, because you’re racing around the tracks so quickly, you’re never without an item for terribly long – meaning you’ll have another mushroom or star to get you right back in the leaders spot.

One final note about 200cc: I thought it would make going back to 150cc a little easier but the two are truly different games. Different strategies are required to be successful when moving between these two modes which can’t be said about the original three. In many ways, 200cc has over-shadowed the content we receive in DLC 2. That’s hardly a knock against the new tracks, it’s just the best patch I’ve ever installed.

Christmas in April

Mario Kart 8 - Animal Crossing

The only thing missing is Kapp’n

I have to admit, the thought of having Isabelle or the Villager ride around Rainbow Road has literally never crossed my mind. Yet somehow it works. Most of my time with the new content has been with the Villager driving the Tanooki Truck (from DLC 1) and this caused me to realize how differently valued the tracks are from the rest of what we unpack here.

My wife played as Isabelle so I was able to experience her by proxy. I suppose in an effort to keep the Mario in Mario Kart, I started the night with Dry Bowser. But I never play as Bowser in any Mario Kart game. I hardly ever play with Donkey Kong or even Wario. It only took one lap in 200cc to remember how differently the bigger characters control. So, if you’re used to the behemoths of the series, Dry Bowser looks amazing but he just wasn’t for me. Isabelle simply cracks me up as she aklsfjasdkfjapsdofijk’s her way through the game. The way Isabelle talks brings pure joy to my soul.  She and the Villager are welcome additions to the Mario Kart 8 cast of characters.

The vehicles, similarly to the characters will depend on you. I’ve been playing Mario Kart 8 since the day it came out so it’s hard to jostle me out of my ways. I only recently started driving with the Tanooki Truck and even that was mostly to try and derive even more value out of the first DLC pack. To me, the tracks are the real value. Everything else is the greatest filler anyone could ask for. This time around, we get the Streetle, Bone Rattler, P-Wing, and City Tripper; along with a new Paper Glider and Leaf Tires. These are hardly the reason to buy the DLC but considering I would’ve bought the packs without these extras, its nice to have them.

Animal Kart 8

The appeal of the Animal Crossing track is hardly out of the track design itself but, even more cleverly, in that you’ll experience a different season each time you visit. Its an idea that’s unprecedented in Mario Kart and makes so much sense, we are all mad for not having thought of it first. I’ll go back to this one for the variety and the music – and maybe I just need more time with it – but this wasn’t the strongest race track out of the bunch.

And who in the heck remembers Cheese Land from the Gameboy Advance? Holy cow, Nintendo! And I thought liberties were taken with Mario Circuit from Shell Cup. Let’s be honest, the original Cheese Land was hardly a good looking track. And while Mario Kart 8 is still one of my top visually impressive games across all platforms, Cheese Land doesn’t quite cut it compared to the other stunning entries.

The most original track in the bunch is most certainly Wild Woods. This seems to take place in either the Uncharted or Ferngully (aging myself a little there) universe and seems to adopt (and improve upon) a few details from Piranha Plant Slide. Wild Woods is varied, speedy, and beautifully detailed. It wasn’t something I realized was missing from the line up but it’ll get my vote in future online match ups.

Baby Park is seven laps of perfection. That’s all it takes. Seven words to succinctly describe one of the greatest tracks in Mario Kart history. I love Baby Park.

Meeeeeooooow!

Stupid cute Yoshi made of yarn. Totally distracted me!

Stupid cute Yoshi made of yarn. Totally distracted me!

Are we running out of power-up icons already? Bell Cup immediately caught my eye thanks to another F-Zero track, Big Blue. The music is enough for me. Luckily, for everyone else, the racing is beautiful as well. And maybe its just me but the walls seemed a little stickier on Big Blue than Mute City, adding a slight edge in the challenge department for the newest entry.

Neo Bowser City seems to be the most directly ported race of all the Retro tracks. It’s been a while since I played the GameCube version but can still remember slamming into the same walls and flying off the same corners as I am now on the Wii U. This is hardly a bad thing. Neo Bowser City is a no surprises, yet solid option in a line up of, now, 48 races.

If you take Wario’s Gold Mine from the Triforce Cup (originally on Mario Kart Wii) and combine it with Toad’s Turnpike, you’ll get Super Bell Subway. This is another original that confidently stands next to the strongest of all Retro tracks. A terrific aesthetic coupled with a staggeringly diverse set of alternative race lines help to distinguish Super Bell Subway.

You may already know this about me but I really enjoy when Nintendo draws reference from Disney. Ribbon Road is the Toy Story of Mario Kart tracks and it might go down as one of my favorites. This is a little Pixar mixed with Yoshi’s Woolly World; lovingly crafted and ostensibly hand-stitched. It took until my playthrough on 150cc to notice the unfairly cute Yoshi Amiibo in the background. I want one so badly.

Send in the Blue Shells

Now a complete set, the Mario Kart 8 DLC sets the bar high for all future DLC. Certainly, my standards are at a new level thanks to Nintendo’s commitment to this game and its dedicated fan base. Nearly a year later, I am still playing Mario Kart 8 and it feels brand new. Thank you, Nintendo, this was the best $15 I’ve ever spent (until I get my hands on that Yoshi made of yarn).


About the Author

Sean Capri

I am a beady-eyed Canadian. I play video games and feed/walk my three dogs.