Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pack – Wave 2 Review – A Major Boost
Nintendo’s move to release 48 new tracks for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe five years after the rerelease of their eight-year-old game launched on the Switch is still weird, but now that we’re a bit more used to the idea the focus has to be on the new courses themselves and whether they offer the value players should expect for their money. Wave 1 of the Booster Course Pass, released back in March, was a mixed bag with some very solid courses but with other courses that felt like they didn’t quite live up to the rest of this awesome game. Does Wave 2 fare any better?
By and large, Wave 2 of the Booster Course Pass is a step in the right direction. The eight additional tracks feature few truly weak offerings, and the highlights are genuinely worthy additions. Of course, there are still a few tracks that could have maybe used a bit more work before rerelease, but overall, fans should be happy.
Like with the prior wave of maps, one of the more interesting sets of levels here are the stages taken from Mario Kart Tour. Players who never spent much time with Nintendo’s mobile take on Mario Kart may have dismissed it, but it actually features some killer courses. Because those maps tended to change over time with new versions, the Booster Course Pass Nintendo has crafted new versions that take from all of those variations and melded them together. Each lap changes, keeping things fresh.
How successful this is varies a little bit depending on the level, but both featured here are largely fun. Sydney Sprint is by far the stronger of the two, with excellent obstacles and a lot of great verticality. New York Minute isn’t quite as successful. The first two laps are fine but relatively boring. The final lap is a lot better, and this is overall a fine course, but it’s one of the weaker ones in this release.
Blast From The Past
The returning courses from older Mario Kart titles are a lot more successful. The weakest of the bunch are probably Mario Circuit 3 from all the way back in the original Super Mario Kart and Snow Land from Super Circuit but neither is by any means bad. Snow Land features awesome music and a solid layout. However, it just doesn’t really stand out in any way. Mario Circuit 3, meanwhile, is extremely faithful to the original course, but the maps in the original game were quite basic compared to what we’ve come to expect from the series, and a bit more of an update would have been welcome. For fans who have been playing the series since the beginning though, it certainly offers nostalgia.
Kalamari Desert threatens to be a bit simple, too, but it changes over time, and the fact that late in the course, you end up on train tracks where you have to deal with a train that comes through and interrupts you, makes it memorable. Mushroom Gorge, meanwhile, makes great use of bounce pads and has just enough variety to challenge players. It’s a highlight here.
The best course in the entire wave, though, is Waluigi Pinball. Combining a gorgeous look, great music, tight curves, and the sort of chaos that can happen when a giant pinball is bouncing around parts of the track, ready to squash anyone it encounters, this is peak Mario Kart and one of the better courses in the entire game. It may be the best course in either wave thus far, for that matter.
Even more surprising, Wave 2 of the Booster Course Pass features a brand-new course. Well, sort of. It actually just released in Mario Kart Tour right after releasing in the Booster Course Pass. So while it may have debuted here first, it was likely designed around Tour. Still, it’s a bright and colorful course and the only one in this set of eight to make use of the game’s hover levels, even if that feels a bit tacked on.
There are a lot of obstacles around here, but few of them really get in the way. While there’s so much going on visually here that things can feel a bit busy, it’s actually a surprisingly simple course when you actually look at the layout. There are a few areas with cool ideas for multiple levels, but in practice, it’s pretty hard to end up on anything but the ideal one, which feels like a wasted opportunity. While not one of the best courses in the game, though, it has a unique feel, and I certainly didn’t dislike racing on it.
Nintendo seems to have also put a bit more effort into these courses this time, making them feel a bit newer. Wave 1 was brought down by visuals that often felt significantly more basic and frankly weaker than the core game of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. While there’s probably still a bit of that in this set of tracks, the gap is far smaller, with more areas feeling in sync with the overall game. Good on the development team for polishing things up.
The Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 2 may not be filled with classics, but there are no truly weak maps here, and there are several that sit comfortably among the upper echelon of the game’s track list. Waluigi Pinball alone would make this a worthy set of levels, but Mushroom Gorge, Kalamari Desert, and Sydney Sprint will all be maps I’ll frequently vote to race on in the future. I’m glad to see these releases getting stronger and can’t wait to see what Nintendo has in store for Wave 3.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Switch (Reviewed); Publisher: Nintendo; Developer: Nintendo; Players: 8 (12 online); Released: August 4th, 2022; ESRB: E for Everyone; MSRP: $24.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a retail copy of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass.