Wednesday, 13 May 2015
Nintendo is doing something super-smart with Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U. They’re releasing DLC (DownLoadable Content) for it. They’ve never really done this before for their Mario Karts, and it is a simple and genius idea. Instead of coming out with a new Mario Kart every few years, just come out with some new tracks and new drivers periodically! KEEP THINGS FRESH!
The first DLC came out last Fall, and I wrote about that here. The second DLC recently came out, and here are some thoughts about the new tracks and drivers. And then you can watch a 1-minute recap video of each of the new tracks! NEAT!
First off, the new drivers!
Animal Crossing Villagers!
YES!!1!! The second character (after link) who doesn’t come directly from a Mario game, the Villagers from the Animal Crossing series of games are now here to race around! You can choose either a boy or a girl. They’re kinda medium-weight characters, but they come with the absolutely awesome beetle-themed kart called the “Streetle.” Just look!
Isabelle was a character introduced in the 3DS Animal Crossing: New Leaf. She’s the Mayor’s assistant, unfailingly polite and encouraging. She’s a bit lighter than the Villagers.
Dry Bowser is a skeletonized version of Bowser, duh. He… I gotta be honest: I haven’t played as Dry Bowser yet. But why would I when I can play as frikkin’ ANIMAL CROSSING CHARACTERS!?
Baby Park (Gamecube)
This was my all-time favorite Double-Dash track! Why? It seems so simple (and short), I know. But that’s precisely why. In Baby Park the racers are always so bunched up that it’s impossible to break away from them; as soon as you get ahead you start lapping those left behind. And it’s an oddity in that there are 7 laps instead of the standard 3. On the Gamecube it frequently got crazy as the high-powered items would be used by the slowest drivers, who could be anywhere on the loop. Mario Kart 8 doesn’t have quite the diversity of items as Double-Dash did, so I don’t know if it will get as crazy (I haven’t played it on 150 or 200 yet).
Cheese Land (GBA)
I must admit I have absolutely no recollection of this track. But I never played much of the GBA Mario Kart. But cheese is my favorite food. And this is a pretty neat track, with three different shortcuts built in (helps if you have mushrooms, of course).
This is the prettiest of the Village Cup tracks. It seems like there are some great background details always going on around the edges of the screen, especially when you pass through a village of Shyguys. There is some good use of anti-gravity in this track, too, some nice curves and jumps, and a flowing water section. It’s a solidly-put-together track.
Take a leisurely drive through an idyllic town. This is a very simple course that takes you through typical Animal Crossing locales: some trees, some beach, some town square, past a museum, etc. Apparently there are four different versions of this course, one for each season, each with their own obstacles and slight differences (though not in course shape—that stays the same). So far the game has only presented me with the “summer” version, though. I guess I’ll just have to keep playing it. OH NO. I do think there were some missed opportunities here, though. How fun would it have been to race through the museum, what with all the dinosaur skeletons and bugs and artwork? That’s could have been an amazing stretch of racetrack.
Neo Bowser City (3DS)
This was a good track on the 3DS. This version has an absolutely gorgeous rain effect added for extra moodiness. Look at how it creates drops and streaks on the camera! Lots of long, spiraling drifts in this one.
Ribbon Road (GBA)
Again, a track I don’t remember very well. But this one is pretty durned stunning, visually. I could scour the backgrounds all day for all of the Mario characters turned into toys, and all of the fun references and Easter-eggy stuff. The track is divided into parts (each with its own color of ribbon roadway). There are some neat shortcuts you don’t need a mushroom to catch, and the undulating road is fun.
Super Bell Subway
The “traffic” course of the group, this one has you navigating around and against a couple of subway trains. But in a neat twist, there is actually a part where if everything times out just right you can drop down on top of a subway train and drive along its roof! This track also has copious excellent background details, especially in the graffiti that litters the underground tunnels.
The second F-Zero course to make its way into Mario Kart, this one is not divided into laps, but rather is one long, undulating course of anti-gravity goodtimes. I tend to like these long, lap-less courses because of the sheer amount of variety you’ll find. Take a wook:
And there you have it. Eight new courses, bringing the grand total up to a bulging 48 total.
Nintendo also did something very interesting: they added a 200cc speed class, making the carts even faster than in the previously-fastest 150cc. It’s pretty nutz (with a Z). It’s impossible without braking to take many of the turns that used be simple! It’s a smart addition to the ouvre, and gives each of the 48 tracks some new life!