Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 2 – Track Impressions
I’ve still been playing Mario Kart 8 since release, and it’s still a ton of fun. One of the main reasons has been the addition of new tracks via DLC. The last pack released in November added 8 new tracks, with some remakes in addition to entirely new courses. Since then, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next DLC Pack, and I’ve gotta say, this one blows the first out of the water.
The new characters and vehicles are pretty cool, but it’s the tracks that are the main attraction here. These stand out so much that I’d like to give some impressions for you guys. Who knows, maybe if you haven’t picked it up yet, this may help you decide whether or not it’s worth it.
An interesting choice to see return, but definitely a memorable one. Back on the GameCube in Double Dash, Baby Park was a short, chaotic loop that was built for item use. Naturally, the added features in Mario Kart 8 up the ante.
The track itself is much more detailed in its amusement park theme, making the Baby Park ride feel like one of the main attractions. The raceway is also all anti-gravity, so the already chaotic racing is made even better when you speed up by bumping into other racers.
I normally don’t like desert tracks (Dry Dry Desert is my least favorite track in Mario Kart 8), mainly because the monotone colors make everything blend together. Cheese Land does share this trait, but this Game Boy Advance track stands out in a cheesy way.
Mechanically, this remake fits into Mario Kart 8 well. The visuals of everything made from cheese garnished with the subtle touches like the Chain Chomps being held down by forks are cool and fit into the gameplay. Swiss cheese holes in the road work well for trick shots and the entire track is shortcut-heavy, and it all makes for one of the best remake tracks in the game.
This may be one of the most straightforward new tracks in the DLC Pack, but Wild Woods makes up for it in its visual and thematic design. The fact that the starting line is halfway up the side of a gigantic tree is already a good sign.
Wild Woods’ theming is excellent as well, making the track feel lived in with its Shy Guy and Toad villages. Their layout is so immaculate and intricate that it feels natural, even almost like this is their canonical home. It’s the subtle touches that leave impressions, and this track has certainly done its number on me.
The flagship track of this DLC Pack is of course Animal Crossing, and it does a great job representing the pack. The environment is the Animal Crossing Village, with even the landmark buildings like Nook’s Cranny, Re-Tail, and the Able Sisters visible along with several of your animal neighbors.
While the track is pretty simple, the main feature of this track is the random seasons that occur each time you race on it. Each season has a special music track as well as well as a gameplay mechanic, like Snowmen to avoid in Winter and tree fruit that gives you a speed boost in Summer. All this makes for a special flagship track.
Unfortunately, this is the most disappointing of the new tracks in DLC Pack 2. Like Music Park and Piranha Plant Slide in the base game, Neo Bowser City is a returning track from Mario Kart 7 that remains largely unchanged.
The updated visual fidelity looks great and the rain effect makes the track stand out, but the layout is rather dull just like in Mario Kart 7. Luckily the rest of the pack makes up for this track, so it’s the SNES Rainbow Road of this DLC.
This is one of the best tracks to show how insane the visual capabilities of Mario Kart 8 are. While the original Ribbon Road in Super Circuit had a simple background dotted with gift-wrapped presents, Mario Kart 8’s take trumps it in every way. The kids’ playroom motif makes the track ooze with personality, from the Clown Copter jack-in-the-boxes to the stuffed Yarn Yoshis, this track looks like something dreamed up in a kid’s imagination.
The track enhancements aren’t limited to just the visual overhaul. The layout is similar to its original incarnation, but the anti-gravity and flight sections add a lot to the game. Out of all of the remade tracks, Ribbon Road is probably the best, with Cheese Land being a close second.
I enjoy the occasional technical track, and Super Bell Subway definitely fills that quota. Above ground, the track is your regular subway station with ticket booths run by Toads, but the underground tunnels are where the action is. Here, the bass line kicks in with the Underground Theme from the original Mario Bros. along with some additional tones.
Winding paths and multiple layers give plenty of options for racking around the running subways. These take time to get used to, but makes for some chaotic and fun technical racing.
I honestly was surprised by this track’s appearance. We already got one F-Zero-themed track, so I didn’t really expect to see another one pop up. A lot of love was poured into its visual design, just like in Mute City, and the layout makes for excellent high-speed action even with its linear nature.
Like Rainbow Road 64 and Mount Wario, Big Blue is a sprint race with checkpoints instead of laps. It plays more like Rainbow Road 64 than Mount Wario, mainly because the track is straightforward with little to no shortcuts. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since Big Blue makes up for this in its fast pace, especially in 200cc. Really, F-Zero seems like such a natural fit now. Kinda makes you hope for a new F-Zero, huh?
Overall, I’m happy with the quality and variety of the track in Mario Kart 8’s DLC Pack 2. Any disappointments I had in tracks like Neo Bowser City are made up for with tracks like Ribbon Road and Big Blue. The value is excellent, even more so if you preordered both DLC Packs, so I highly recommend it.
Now, here’s to hoping we get DLC Pack 3, right….? Please?