I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve raced my way through each cup in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. At this point, I know every track so well that I tend to drive through them like clockwork. I’ve learned every bend in the road, every item box placement, and every little hidden path to reach the finish line. As much as I still enjoy the latest Mario Kart entry, the chance to speed through something new feels long overdue. Thankfully, the Mario Kart 8 Booster Course Pass has officially arrived to deliver just that.
Set to release in six waves, the first just launched with eight additional tracks in two new cups. For the first time in what feels like an age, I’m not going through the motions in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The novelty of discovering new courses is back, and I’ve been relishing the chance to learn all of the ins and outs of each race. But now that I’ve gotten a taste for something fresh, it’s going to be all the more difficult to wait it out for the remaining waves.
New and familiar sights
In the absence of an entirely new Mario Kart release, the Booster Pass Course already feels like the next best thing. As a player who frequently revisits the game, seeing an entirely new section with 12 additional cups in the Grand Prix menu is enough to get my motor running. After all, the line-up on display holds the promise of 48 remastered courses. That’s 48 fresh races after almost five years of the same? Yes please.
With the DLC bringing in a host of tracks plucked from Mario Kart games throughout Nintendo’s history, the first wave introduces some familiar tracks to the fold. The likes of the much-memed Coconut Mall from the Wii is a welcome addition, along with other classics like Choco Mountain from the N64. But what I’m most surprised by the most is just how much I’m enjoying the tracks from Mario Kart Tour.
The chance to shake things up with fresh tracks is a big part of the Booster Course Pass’ appeal. But I was also initially excited about the prospect of getting a healthy helping of nostalgia – after all, nothing quite beats shiny, upgraded versions of classic tracks. Having never played Mario Kart Tour (it released on iOS and Android devices in 2019), on the other hand, I wasn’t really too bothered by its inclusion. Although once I hit the picturesque roads of Mario Kart Tour’s Paris Promenade course, that perspective quickly shifted.
There’s something quite novel about seeing the Mario take on real-world locations, and because I hadn’t experienced them before in Tour, they felt wholly new to me. Perhaps it speaks to just how starved I’ve been for new content in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe more than anything, but it’s been a real joy to race through the streets of Paris and Tokyo in my kart of choice for the first time.
As is tradition in my family, I put pedal to the metal alongside my sibling who always joins me for a spot of Kart racing. What makes the tracks in the Mario Kart such a blast – outside of the chaos its confluence of power items can create – is the way that each often hides little secret roads. Together, we raced through the new tracks looking out for alternative pathways to one up each other, and it’s refreshing to have that particular sense of discovery back after so long without it. One of our top tracks from the Booster Course Pass so far is Ninja hideaway, which is another race from Mario Kart Tour. It’s easily one of the most visually striking courses of the new additions, with plenty of unusual obstacles and levels to overcome and master.
With a dojo-style manor decorated to look like Wario, there’s a simple kind of joy in soaking up the sights of a track I’ve never experienced before. From disappearing Shy Guys to bamboo shoots that propel you in the air, it feels like every turn and leg of the race throws something new in my way. If you can get high enough on the courses, you can even find yourself driving along roof beams and taking a swift shortcut that can put you in the lead. After revisiting races like Toad Circuit, it’s definitely a treat to see some old haunts remastered for the Switch, but the Tour tracks make Mario Kart 8 Deluxe feel far fresher than the older courses I fondly remember.
As fantastic as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is, playing through the same courses time and again has gotten quite stale. The first wave may have only offered a small selection of tracks, but I had an absolute blast jumping back in and experiencing something fresh. Currently Nintendo plans to release all six waves by the end of 2023, and just knowing there’s more in store is definitely exciting. Still, I can’t help but wistfully think about the time when I can load up the game and have all of those new cups and races waiting for me.
See what else is on the horizon with our roundup of upcoming Switch games.