It’s been a while since the latest Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC wave. Wave 1 already gave some high notes, especially the recently-updated Coconut Mall. I was particularly surprised by the Tour courses’ diverse laps and detailed environments. So naturally, I could barely contain my excitement when the second wave finally dropped, including one of my all-time favorites, Waluigi Pinball. I know, pretty unoriginal, but there’s no accounting for taste, I guess.
That said, I will be ranking the 8 brand new DLC courses by my personal tastes. Factors like originality, uniqueness and accessed remake potential play a large role. However, what matters to me most, in the end, 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.
Mario Circuit 3 (SNES)
Although the rest of this ranking is pretty close, Mario Circuit 3 is the only course I didn’t really care for. It’s not bad, just a little… uninspired. As a straight remake from Super Mario Kart on the SNES, it’s pretty obvious what you can expect from this track when you first race on it. It’s flat, with a few turns for risky but rewarding drifts. You’ve got some oil spills and boost panels to change up the track, but that’s about it.
Contrary to the other Mario Circuit retro track, the one from Super Circuit, this track does very little to make it interesting. There are no anti-gravity zones (which is a bit of a pattern in the Booster Courses). However, there are no underwater segments or glider ramps either. Nothing that makes this course stand out. For a standard Mario circuit, it serves its purpose. Still, I can name plenty of circuits I would’ve preferred seeing over SNES Mario Circuit 3. Even other SNES courses like Ghost Valley 3 could’ve filled this spot better.
It kind of pains me to put this brand new course second-to-last. It’s a pretty indication of what I think of this course. Mario Circuit 3 is the only one I really didn’t care for. So from 7 to 1, I’d describe all tracks as good, great, or at least deserving to be there. For all its seeming chaos, Sky-High Sundae is a pretty simple track. Its course layout isn’t much different from a course like Baby Park. The thing that clearly sets it apart for me is its appealing atmosphere.
Racing between the cones, chocolate, cake, and candy makes this track a pretty sweet ride. For the amount of time you get to ride, that is. I love doing tricks, but this course takes it pretty far – you’re airborne for almost more time than not. Although I’m always up for some anti-gravity, the slow falling effect it causes makes this track feel somewhat awkward to race on. It’s also challenging to see depth with some of the candy panels. Especially the first time racing, I could barely tell where I was supposed to go and where I’d find Lakitu waiting for me. Still, all around a fine finisher to the Propeller Cup, but not its sweet spot.
Mushroom Gorge (Wii)
Mario Kart Wii was the second Mario Kart game I played. Mushroom Gorge has a special place in my heart. As the third track of the first cup, this was the first track where the crazy Mario Kart physics truly came into play. Jumps, tricks, and cliffs galore! Mario Kart 8 Deluxe kept Mushroom Gorge’s magical appeal with all its crazy jumps. What’s more, the enhanced graphics really shine in this course. The cave with its bright pink and blue gems and mushrooms, the grassy cliffs, and the many spectators cheering for you greatly adds to the experience.
I hear you wondering. If this track is so great, then why is it only sixth? I don’t think Mario Kart 8 Deluxe realized this course’s full potential. Although the original circuit is already great, I’m always fond of retro tracks adding something to make it stand out from the original. Mario Kart 8 really doesn’t do that. It kept the glider mushroom that Mario Kart 7 introduced, but aside from that, there are only minor changes. I would’ve loved to see the track explore some anti-gravity, maybe with mushrooms on walls and ceilings that racers can jump over, similar to walls like in Bone-Dry Dunes or Toad Harbor. Nonetheless, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe‘s Mushroom Gorge is a very solid remake, although more of a remaster.
Snow Land (GBA)
Seeing the DLC courses for the first time, Snow Land was the large question mark. This course could turn out to be really mediocre, or something crazy would happen to it. Fortunately, Nintendo took this fairly bland Mario Kart: Super Circuit course and turned it into an adorable winter wonderland. With penguins, falling item blocks, and cute music, Snow Land is infinitely better than its Gameboy Advance counterpart without having to go crazy.
The course also really doesn’t have to go crazy. It works in the way that Nintendo has remade this course. The central gimmick of this track is – as the name kind of implies – snow. That means the roads are slippery! I love when race themes aren’t just some skin, but have a profound impact on the gameplay itself. With ramps to trick off and plenty of shortcuts, Snow Land feels exciting and dynamic. The vibe is great. This course definitely lives up to my wildest expectations. I’d even say it outdoes other snow tracks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, like Sherbet Land and Ice Ice Outpost.
Sydney Sprint (Tour)
Before playing these brand new tracks, I caught myself saying that “remade Tour tracks are always fun.” Despite this blatant generalization, Nintendo thus far hasn’t really managed to prove me wrong. With its bright atmosphere, energetic music, and diverse surroundings, Sydney Sprint is a blast to race through.
For me, the best feature by far is the varying laps. Each lap has you racing on a different part of the course, like Tokyo Blur and Paris Promenade. I love exploring the racing areas, as it makes the track way more lively, like drifting through a real Australia in the Mario universe. In the heart of the course, a series of tight ramps makes the track feel super fast, justifying the “sprint” part of the name. That said, lots of the course sadly feels a little slow. The broad roads offer little room for tricks, shortcuts, or boosts. Although that’s a bit of a missed opportunity in my book, Sydney Sprint makes a great introduction to the Propeller Cup.
Waluigi Pinball (DS)
What? Waluigi Pinball not first in the ranking? Yes, but before you send me hate mail, let me explain. This course has a massive plus that no other circuit can ever have – it’s Waluigi freaking Pinball! This faithful remake kept all the things I loved about the original track. The colorful tunnel at the start. The pinball obstacles, the winding road to the chaotic pinball table, the pinball item box noise, and of course, a healthy dose of Waluigi with flashing neon lights everywhere. The music, although it doesn’t go as hard as I hoped, is still great.
Then why only third? This faithful remake is a little too faithful for my tastes. Yes, it works, but think what it could’ve been. My main beef is with the long winding road down. It’s a prime target for an anti-gravity zone, which Nintendo sadly didn’t choose to include. I was looking forward to bumping and boosting my way down at record speed – this version of Waluigi Pinball doesn’t really offer that. That said, that little bit of criticism is all I have with this version of Waluigi Pinball. This course is still solidly in my all-time favorites.
Kalimari Desert (N64)
Speaking of thinking about what could’ve been, I can barely express my appreciation for what Nintendo did with Kalimari Desert. The premise of this track was already pretty cool and original in Mario Kart 64. A steam train crossing a desert, like a classic Western scene, makes for a pretty cool environment to race around. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe one-ups the base track. Not just by keeping the ramps added in Mario Kart 7, but by integrating the Kalimari Desert 2 track from Mario Kart Tour.
That’s right – after the first lap, the track takes a drastically different turn. A ramp appears in mid-air which leads the course into the tunnel. If you’ve ever wondered what the surroundings of Kalimari Desert look like, this version of the circuit answers that. The small roads through the tunnel are challenging but rewarding to get right. Kalimari Desert seriously improves upon its predecessors on the Nintendo 64 and the 3DS. All the while, it kept the original vibe of the track. With all its new content, it may have even made the vibe better.
New York Minute (Tour)
New York Minute has to open the second wave of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass DLC. And what an opener it is! My attitude towards remade Tour courses definitely holds up here. The detailed and crowded surroundings make this course feel dazzling to drive through. The finish line is right in the middle of Times Square, so you have plenty of time to watch Mario Kart’s wonderful sponsors and advertisements. The track itself lives up to the first impressions, too.
Through Central Park and Broadway, as well as plenty of other iconic New York City sights, the course has plenty of sharp turns and small shortcuts that you can use. You can take risks with drifting – but the payoff is substantial. I just love that. And naturally, like other tour tracks, the course lets you explore a different section of the Big Apple every time. With awesome jazz music sparkling grandeur throughout the circuit and an interesting street pattern, New York Minute is a great track to race and trick on. This track starts wave 2 off with a bang.
There we have it – my ranking of the eight new courses in the second 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!