Back to ranking! The third wave of the DLC had a pretty high bar to meet. Classic courses like Coconut Mall and Waluigi Pinball were re-introduced, while newer circuits like Ninja’s Hideaway and New York Minute conquered my heart quickly. The charming environments, great music, and different laps that the previous courses showed made me excited to see even more circuits appear in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. When Nintendo announced tracks like Peach Gardens and Maple Treeway would return, courses I remember fondly, I immediately got to playing the moment the tracks dropped.
So which of these courses should you be picking when you play online with friends or strangers? I will be ranking the 8 brand-new DLC courses below. I will of course rank them by my tastes, however, factors like originality, uniqueness, and accessed remake potential all play a big role. What matters to me most though, is how much fun it is to race on them.
The Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass is available for $25, or as part of the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack.
London Loop (Tour)
I’ve got nothing but praise for London Loop. It just happens that I have more praise for the other courses in this track. While London Loop goes crazy with the alternating loops, the map itself just feels a little bland. The foggy weather, albeit realistic, doesn’t work miracles on the graphical detail of the map. While I can make out the cool landmarks as I drive them by, the track is overall too crowded. It’s this lack of variety that also hinders the alternating tracks in my opinion. Although the minimap is crazy, all the loops feel very similar with loads of turns and roundabouts.
What I do love about this map is the ease to take shortcuts. If you have a mushroom, you can easily cut through the section with the Chain Chomp to gain an edge over the other racers. The occasional ramp that appears as Tower Bridge opens is great as well. Although I think the music tries a bit too hard to be epic, London Loop is a great course – its main problem is that no section really stands out, which in my opinion makes it the least memorable, and therefore the least great track in this wave.
Alpine Pass/Rock Rock Mountain (3DS)
To me, Alpine Pass (or Rock Rock Mountain for my North American friends) feels as great as ever. With the music and the violent climbs and jumps, this music really does feel like you’re on a live stunt reel. Especially on 200 CC, this track lets you drive as aggressively as you want without the fear that you’ll be completely stuck on a tight turn. The freedom that this map gives you is fantastic. But then, I hear you ask, why is it only on the seventh spot?
Although Alpine Pass feels like a real adventure and has plenty of iconic moments with its crazy jumps and airtime, the track itself feels a little empty. I get that the rough nature won’t invite a lot of advertising, people cheering on the sidelines, and the like going on, but that didn’t stop Mushroom Gorge, either. Furthermore, the textures of this map feel a little iffy. I saw someone on YouTube commenting that compared to its original self in Mario Kart 7, this iteration feels a bit more like Dirt Dirt Mountain. And I tend to agree.
Boo Lake (GBA)
Boo Lake has got the same charm to it that Snow Land has. Both tracks suffered from the fact that they were originally released as part of Mario Kart: Super Circuit for the Game Boy Advance, a system that simply couldn’t realize these courses’ full potential. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe makes Boo Lake all the more interesting by actually playing with anti-gravity and underwater driving. Although the track is a bit short, the variety that this iteration brings makes it a fun and quick race.
And then there’s the atmosphere of the track. Like one of my all-time favorite circuits, Banshee Boardwalk, Boo Lake has you driving over a tight boardwalk that has in some areas collapsed, and in others outright sank. With its eerie music, the ghostly trees, and the old-fashioned lanterns, Boo Lake creates a great haunted vibe, not unlike Twisted Mansion. However, it achieves this without feeling the need to go crazy. That’s nice too, every so often.
Peach Gardens (DS)
Peach Gardens looks even lovelier than I remember it. As one of the first courses revealed for this DLC, I was already extremely excited to race on the track I used to play on as a kid on my DS. The stage definitely did not disappoint. The hedge sculptures of various Mario characters give the gardens a nice visual touch, and the flowery arches look lovely. Not too much has changed for this course, and it also didn’t have to. This course was fine as is.
Of course, I can’t rank this course without bringing up the cool new route for the third lap. With a quick turn to the right, you finish the race by touring Peach Gardens backward. Gliding over the Chomp section and touring the scenery from a whole other angle feels incredible. Although I love this track, to me it feels a bit bland compared to some of the other tracks in this DLC wave. But I suppose that’s just my irrational longing for crazy.
Merry Mountain (Tour)
This course has a lot going on. For starters, the atmosphere is amazing. It just screams Christmas cheer. With the seasonal decorations, the candy canes everywhere, the sleigh in the sky, and the gingerbread houses, this stage could come straight from a Christmas movie. The music definitely helps to convey the Christmas track even more.
Of course, I can’t just rank a track for the environment. The track itself is also great to race on. For starters, it has a halfpipe and an anti-gravity section, and I just so happen to be a huge sucker for both those things. The coolest parts of this track follow each other in quick succession. From the cool split route at the quarry to the halfpipe, followed by a fast descent of the mountain, riddled with jumps and gliding sections. I really like this course.
Maple Treeway (Wii)
It’s so good to see Maple Treeway again, and it’s even better to see that it still has that charm that I loved in its earlier version. There’s something about the soothing melody of this track and its charming fall atmosphere that I truly love. What I love even more about this version of Maple Treeway is the insane amount of speed you can easily get. The halfpipe section feels way faster compared to the Wii, so when you trick in quick succession you can pull off some extremely satisfying jumps.
Much of this course’s charm is due to the original design. From the cannon to the wiggler section, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe didn’t have to do much to make this already great track a slam dunk. Although I am sad that the net at the end still hasn’t returned, Maple Treeway remains an amazing track to drive on.
Berlin Byways (Tour)
In my opinion, Berlin Byways is a city course executed perfectly. It’s colorful and dynamic, traits that London Loops mostly misses. The traffic makes the city feel much more alive, and the many ramps and turns add a cool variety to the race. What I love most about this track though, is its interaction with the environment. Whether it’s driving through a stationary train to pick up a quick item, dodging Thwomps while driving under the Brandenburg Gate, or especially tricking off the Whomps who are cleverly placed in the East Side Gallery.
That’s not to mention the incredible music of this course. The strange mix of techno and orchestra works amazingly. More than anything, this stage makes me want to visit Berlin again. It would be first on this list if it weren’t for the inclusion of what’s possibly my favorite track in all of Mario Kart.
Rainbow Road (3DS)
I’ll be honest, I already loved this track before it was remade. This Rainbow Road just hits differently. This is not a Rainbow Road where you’re constantly frustrated that you’re falling off when you miss a sharp turn, but more of a galactic adventure. From winding between the planets to driving on the rings of Saturn, from driving on the moon’s surface to finishing with a mad dash after being shot out of a cosmic cannon. This Rainbow Road was already sublime.
And yet, somehow, in this third DLC wave of Mario Kart 8, the experience is even better. Especially the textures of the map are magnificent. The translucent rainbow, in which all colors flow beautifully together, makes the track look stunning visually. Combine it with the beautiful music and the ability to race on this track in 200 CC, and you have my favorite track of wave 3 of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass DLC.
There we have it – my ranking of the eight new courses in the third wave of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass. Do you agree with my ranking, or is my judgment flimsy? Did you like the course selection of this DLC? Let me know in the comments!