MARIO KART 8 – DLC PACK 1 – REVIEW

When you think of DLC, you think overpriced, underwhelming and stupid. With Mario Kart 8 – DLC Pack 1, Nintendo proves to not only understand their fanbase, but also their wallets. DLC Pack 1 for Mario Kart 8 isn’t just a few extra costumes, but rather 2 new whole cups (8 tracks!), 3 new racers and a variety of new vehicles. So, for a measly $16 for both packs (Pack 2 coming Q2 2015), is it any good?

YES

Mario Kart 8 was an enormous hit for Nintendo, which not only saw sales for their under-performing Wii U console skyrocket, but also reminded everybody how much fun can be had with a go-kart and a blue shell. Nintendo’s idea to expand their offering in the form of two DLC packs was surprising, but thankfully, Nintendo chose not to release a bunch of new costumes or skins, but a large chunk of new content that will provide additional life to the game, now 6 months old. The 2 announced DLC packs will set you back $10 each, or $16 for the bundle.

So for my $16, what am I getting? Well lets start off with the characters. Each DLC pack contains 3 new racers, with Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach and Link from Legend of Zelda, on offer in DLC pack 1. Its great to see Link show up to give Mario a run for his money. Link proves himself to be a formidable opponent and has some nice little touches like swinging his sword when pulling a stunt off a jump. Driving Link around Hyrule Castle in a go kart is something I wasn’t planning on doing in my life, but I’m glad I did.

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The new cups are great. In this pack we get the Egg cup, and the Triforce cup. Each cup offers 4 tracks – 2 new tracks and 2 classic remakes. Interestingly, the new and retro tracks aren’t bundled together into a single cup like the cups in the retail release. This helps to mix up the content on offer here.

The new tracks are fantastic, especially the ones based on other Nintendo franchises -the highlight being Hyrule Castle. The track is an amazing homage to the Zelda franchise – the coins scattered around the track have been replaced by rupee’s, and the sound of the item box rotating has been replaced with the sound effect of the chest opening. Zelda fans won’t want to miss this! Mute City from F-Zero is wonderfully recreated in Mario Kart 8, and has had plenty of boost pads scattered around to really give that feeling of speed. Other original tracks such as Ice Ice Outpost and Dragon Driftway prove to be challenging, winding tracks with some great shortcuts. Rainbow Road returns (again…), this time a recreation of the infamous SNES version of the track (no walls!). This was a surprising favourite amongst our group of players – the widening of the track to accommodate the 12 racers really allows for some great powersliding around the corners.

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The new vehicles on offer some cool options. The popular B-dasher from Mario Kart DS returns, along with the arrival of Captain Falcon’s Blue Falcon, scaled down to kart size – too bad Captain Falcon isn’t around to drive it! The Master Cycle, Link’s trusty stead turned motorbike, looks amazing getting round the tracks.

Unfortunately the pack doesn’t do anything about the horrible battle mode, and whilst  it’s nice to get 3 ‘new’ racers, the other two characters would be better suited as skins of the existing Mario and Peach racers, and don’t really justify their own slot on the character selection page.

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At the end of the day, anybody who played Mario Kart 8 will be able to justify the price tag of the new content. This pack is filled with amazing fan service and some very well designed tracks, but it also proves that Nintendo understand the nature of DLC and haven’t just bundled together some new costumes or half-assed content. The new content on offer here will please any Nintendo fan, or any fan who’s idea of fun is blasting their mate sitting next to them with a blue shell. Lets be honest, that will never get old.

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