The best and worst of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's Booster Course Pass Wave 2
Quality is increasing, and it's great to see it in every aspect.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 2 has arrived, as part of an expansion (that is free for Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscribers) which will give the title 48 extra tracks between 2022 and 2023. The big surprise within this second wave is that there is a brand new track, while the rest still use Mario Kart Tour and other former Mario Kart games as their base. As we did with the first one, we'll review what we can play online and in local mode from now on.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 2 Tracks
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New York Minute (Mario Kart Tour)
Mario Circuit 3 (Super Mario Kart)
Kalimari Desert (Mario Kart 64)
Waluigi Pinball (Mario Kart DS)
Sydney Sprint (Mario Kart Tour)
Snow Land (Mario Kart: Super Circuit)
Mushroom Gorge (Mario Kart Wii)
Sky-High Sundae (New - Mario Kart Tour)
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New track! Antigravity! And a great jump for the paraglider! Sky-High Sundae is the first completely original track as part of the Booster Pass, since the previous ones (never seen in console form before) came from MK Tour. It's exciting for the present and more so for the future, since the door is open for more original and new experiences that will release hand-in-hand with the mobile game, since it only took a couple days for this track to be released in the free-to-play version.
Nevertheless, just my luck, since Sky-High Sundae is the worst course from this wave, and, probably, from the whole game. It is totally inspired by Fall Guys, not only due to the overwhelming colour scheme, but due to the level design itself. It is another oval (we already have Baby Park and Excitebike Arena) with platforms to jump on with a very little reaction time and a lot of falling danger, be it an abyss or to a lower course with a lower quality. Nonetheless, the driving isn't entertaining and playing it online isn't a real battle either. Plus, an intermediate rail which looks like an obstacle at first, gives you an unexpected boost which is visually weird.
Let's change our tone. Why spoil something when it's fine. That's the philosophy according to Waluigi Pinball, one of this series' iconic tracks, which is finally back. It's just as you remember, with those connected curves and those balls ready to destroy your game at any time. Nintendo made a great effort in remastering visuals, allowing us to both appreciate it while driving and watching. It's satisfying to look beyond the nose of your car and observe the twisted curves on the horizon, which are waiting for you below this pinball machine. It's a very good match with another requested track from the past; Kalimari Desert, which became very popular in MK7 after Mario Kart 64. This remastering was inspired by the already remade course for mobiles, in which you do enter by the train rails, but it gains a third lap in order to give it more life despite its great simplicity.
Sydney Sprint is also an extremely high quality one. I didn't know it since I'm not a player of the mobile version and I'm very satisfied with everything it offers. First, because it breaks a lot the squared designs that other city-based courses present (yes, streets are like that, but this is fiction), making it a more varied drive than the one offered in Tokyo, Paris and New York. And as important is the beauty of its urban landscape, drenched in water and nature and crowned by its popular Opera House building, which is crossed without a second thought. Quite the opposite occurs to me with New York Minute, which resembles a clone of the other two from the DLC Wave 1 and is therefore boring. It's saved thanks to its wonderful blast through Central Park and its cheerful melody.
Towards the end of this review, there are other three courses which are very different. Mario Circuit 3 is for lovers of speed, driving and fast laps, as it has always been, and it will therefore have its supporting and opposing groups. Snow Land looks very simple, but it is rather an attractive track thanks to its visual updates and it also gives intensity to the battle with a couple of mushrooms, which is always interesting for online gameplay. And Mushroom Gorge is neither great nor bad, its function is to satisfy those millions of Wii players, but it is still a pain in the neck since the mushroom bouncing effect is offered up atrociously. It is such a bummer that there are two tracks with mushrooms in the first two waves.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 2 leaves me with a pleasant taste in my mouth, even better than the first one. Because there are many brilliant courses, which is great, and because the work's technical style is a step better. There's less of a sense of a quick conversion from mobile to console, with more technical details from the base game and less cheap textures. Which is why it's a shame that the new and the anticipated track, Sky-High Sundae, lets it down.
The negative point is that the online now looks like Google Maps, since the "random" system only picks suggestions from the DLC and people are demanding them. Given that three out of the four urban ones are so similar between them (and Ninja Hideway is more or less the same), I miss the variety that others offered and which are now forgotten, such as Wild Woods, Music Park or Tick-Tock Clock.