DLC review: Mario Kart 8 - The Legend of Zelda X Mario Kart 8

This first of two DLC packs for Mario Kart 8 is quite generous, boasting two new Grand Prix cups with four tracks each, four new vehicles, three new racers, and a few additional customization options for your rides. While Tanooki Suit Mario and Cat Suit Peach are quick re-skins of pre-existing characters, the real treat is Link, hero of Hyrule, this time donning his look from Skyward Sword. This more heavily stylized design blends well with the Mushroom Kingdom gang’s cartoony appearances and reacts well to the bright lighting and colorful backdrops of many of Mario Kart 8’s locales. Link and all the other racers can take to the track in the Tanooki Kart, the B-Dasher from Mario Kart DS, the Blue Falcon of F-Zero fame, or a horse-shaped bike known as the Master Cycle.

Of the two new cups, the Egg Cup is arguably the more exciting overall, with three brand new courses and one reimagined version of the Yoshi Circuit from Double Dash!! The three new courses include Dragon Driftway, a windy course with a heavy Chinese festival aesthetic, and two courses that pay homage to Excitebike and F-Zero respectively. The Excitebike Arena, while a relatively uncomplicated series of jumps, presents a looped course that is certainly more interesting than similarly-shaped tracks of yesteryear like Baby Park. Mute City, meanwhile, is the real treat, as it utilizes the anti-gravity sections more fully than most any other track in MK8 yet. The abundance of boost pads and tight, winding turns makes this feel the part of a real F-Zero course, not to be outdone by the shiny metallic textures than cover every structure in the background.

The Triforce cup offers retreads of Wario’s Gold Mine from Mario Kart Wii and yet another variant of Rainbow Road, this time from the SNES days. Wario’s Gold Mine was hardly ever one of the strongest showings in Mario Kart Wii, while Rainbow Road’s layout is incredibly simple, as is the case with nearly every SNES Mario Kart course. While it was interesting to see how vastly different the MK8 Rainbow Road was from its reimagined N64 counterpart, this course has now been overdone in MK8, despite how mesmerizing the sparkly colors and glossy texture of the track might be. Ice Ice Outpost, one of the Triforce Cup’s new courses, splits paths multiple times as players race up, around, and through an arctic facility. The real gem of this cup, however, is the Hyrule Circuit, a somewhat shorter course that zips through Hyrule Castle and its nearby town and field, replacing coins with Rupees and Piranha Plants with Deku Babas.

While the quality of the two cups may not be consistent, they do provide a nice variety of lengths in their courses and a different set of challenges in the layouts of each. At the end of the day, the standouts are really the new race tracks, and while I do imagine there will still be at least a couple of retro courses in the second DLC pack come Spring, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Nintendo focuses their efforts primarily on providing more impressive new environments. Eight new tracks for less than $10 is a solid bargain on its own, but the fact that this pack includes the aforementioned characters and karts as well makes the whole package one sweet deal for anyone looking to extend their play experience with Mario Kart 8.

My rating: 8 (out of 10)*

*(rating applies solely to downloadable content, not its inclusion with the content on the original game disc or other downloadable content)

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