- Developer: Nintendo
- MSRP: $7.99 / $12.99 bundle for both DLC packs
- Rated E for Everone
- Released on November 13, 2014
- Platforms: Wii U
- Review: ★★★★☆
Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 1 Review
If your copy of Mario Kart 8 has been sitting on the shelf collecting dust, now is the perfect time to put it back into your Wii U. Nintendo has finally released the first pack of paid DLC for the game, giving you a brand new reason to jump back in. Picking Pack 1 up will net you three more characters to choose from, 8 more tracks, and four new vehicles. For the first time, a non-Mario character joins the race with Link finally being included. There is plenty of things to have you excited, even though not all of the content is that memorable.
Starting with the new characters included, in reality there is only one. Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach are entertaining enough to see as new selections, but facts are facts, they are still the same characters just with different costumes. It is a little disappointing to see them take up two of the slots when we already had three versions of both to begin with. Of course the real draw is Link, and he alone makes up for the other two. Having a non-Mario character is a huge jump for the series, and one that makes you wonder why it has taken this long to happen. He fits perfectly fine with the other characters, and when you perform tricks, he will either pull out the master sword or triforce, both forcing you to smile every time.
Of the four new vehicles, only two are really that jaw dropping. The addition of Link brings us the Master Cycle, a motorcycle made to look like his faithful horse, Epona. Another non-Mario addition comes to us from F-Zero, in the form of the Blue Falcon. It is an awesome addition to see in action, it’s just hard not to wish you could choose from Captain Falcon to pilot it. The other two cars added are the B Dasher and the Tanooki Kart, both being just a bit to generic to really get excited about.
The tracks are the most important part of the DLC, bringing us two new cups. The first is the new Egg Cup, adding one retro track, Yoshi Circuit from Mario Kart Double Dash, and then three new tracks, Excitebike Arena, Dragon Driftway, and Mute City. Yoshi Circuit was one of my favorite tracks from Double Dash, so its inclusion was very welcome. It comes only slightly modified from its original version. The Excitebike Arena in theory sounds like a good idea to bring in Nintendo’s classic, but it has turned out to be one of the most boring tracks in the game. It features the hills and oil slicks from Excitebike, but offers no twists or turns for a boring straightaway track. Dragon Driftway picks things back up with a good helping of anti-grav, but it just lacks much of a challenge to it. The final track is possibly the best addition of all the new tracks, Mute City. Coming straight out of F-Zero, the track workings amazingly well with the anti-grav system and is a speeder’s delight. As a fun nod to the original game, it even has the pink repair strips where you can drive through to fill up on coins.
The final cup added is the Triforce Cup with two retro tracks, Wario’s Gold Mine from the Wii and Rainbow Road from the SNES, and two new tracks, Ice Ice Outpost and Hyrule Circuit. Wario’s Gold Mine is a nice addition to the game, throwing anti-grav in so you can bump the mine carts for an extra boost. Rainbow Road from the SNES is one of the more boring versions of the final track, but if nothing else it does serve to show the evolution of Rainbow Road in the series. Ice Ice Outpost serves up two tracks the criss-cross each other, letting you choose which road to take. It is a unique idea, but again it lacks a real challenge. The final addition is what Legend of Zelda fans will be continuously playing, Hyrule Circuit. The track layout itself feels similar to the Mario Circuit’s, but it zips through Hyrule castle and even shows a glimpse of the Master Sword sitting between a roundabout loop. However, the most entertaining thing about the track is that all of the coins are replaced by rupees, giving you a wholly unique experience.
Having only truly one new character feels like a missed opportunity, where Nintendo could have added Zelda for instance to mix things up. The courses themselves are a mixed bag, with a couple of duds included. In the end though, it will be a hard addition to deny regardless, especially for the price if you buy both packs together. The Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 1 is a great addition to what was already a content packed game, but it does serve to show that Nintendo could go much further with what it is adding.