The internet’s a funny place. For years there was wailing and gnashing of teeth as the mobile-only Mario Kart Tour got all-new tracks and much-loved classics — “bring that content to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe!”, we demanded. Then the Booster Course Pack is announced and lots of (probably the same) people said “What!? You’re using Mario Kart Tour content? Ugh, that’s so lazy”.
Well, that’s one set of perspectives your humble scribe has seen and the personal response has been a shrug of the shoulders. So what if Nintendo is re-using content from a mobile game? If it has been optimised to run at 60fps and look shiny on Switch, then that’s marvellous. Sure, it’s an easy-win approach, but it’s also 48 tracks across nearly two years, doubling the number of courses in the game. And also, we’re not all avid Mario Kart Tour players, either.
To those that enjoy the mobile-only entry in the series, a big thumbs up and we’re happy you’re having a lovely time. Amongst our team, though, not many stuck with it after its launch, either because of issues running it on an old phone at the time (raises hand) or not particularly enjoying the controls and auto acceleration (raises other hand). It’s a game that’s evolved a lot, keeps adding new content, characters and events and is evidently successful enough to justify its ongoing support.
It’s to the Tour team’s credit that even we’ve been jealous of it at times. The ‘real’ settings like Paris and Tokyo look utterly charming and give us something a little different to the fantastical Mushroom Kingdom / other Nintendo IPs, while Tour has also delivered remasters of other classic tracks similar to those we’ve enjoyed across many mainline MK titles. It makes a lot of sense for Nintendo to review the landscape and its plans for the next couple of years, and utilise work already done elsewhere to give even more life to MK8 Deluxe, which is still one of its bestselling games every year.
The crux, of course, is that this week, on Friday 18th March to be exact, we get two new Cups and eight fresh tracks, with ‘new’ Tour tracks joined by some classics. Mario Kart 8 still a go-to game for a bit of fun (especially online), so seeing it get extra life this late in the day is a treat.
Here’s a quick reminder of the additions coming this week:
Golden Dash Cup
Lucky Cat Cup
There are a couple of iconic retro tracks there, and there are plenty of us that haven’t experienced Paris Promenade, Tokyo Blur or Ninja Hideaway at all, so as the DLC lands it’s likely to generate some buzz from many players who haven’t raced around real-world-inspired locations in a Mario Kart game before.
We’ve already written about what this DLC and its structure might say about Nintendo’s strategy for the next couple of years. Regardless of what may have been planned in the past, if feels like we may have another couple of years with Switch leading the way, and boosting MK8 is a sound strategy as it is the definitive game on the system in terms of sales.
On top of that, there’s little doubt that the DLC is being used as a boost for the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack. Its inclusion makes it a bargain for those of us already on board (especially with a family pass) and may tempt others to sign-up (especially as the classics keep coming in the N64 app, too). It’s a DLC pass that’ll make Nintendo money both through standalone sales and through increased Expansion Pack memberships.
We’re admittedly taking a positive spin here, excited to have more content for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe around the corner, but it’s worth acknowledging that some criticisms are certainly fair. It would have been nice if Nintendo had offered each instalment as separate purchases, perhaps for a higher overall cost when bought individually but giving players a chance to be picky and avoid waves that didn’t excite them. The fact it’s only courses also plays into accusations it’s a low effort project, with no new vehicles or characters joining the fun; that feels like a missed opportunity at this stage. Who wouldn’t want to burn around a Pikmin or Kirby-inspired course with the relevant protagonist at the wheel?
And yes, it’s not Mario Kart 9, but as mentioned already that will likely wait another couple of years if this Booster Pass is anything to go by. Still, it’ll surely be amazing when it does come along.
Whatever the debates around the content, its transition from mobile and so on, we are still in a week of new content for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. That thought has certainly helped this particular Monday feel rather cheerful around the NL office.