Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 18.11.2023

Review for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass on Nintendo Switch

When Nintendo first released Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Nintendo Switch, it was a refined, upgraded take on the Wii U version - reworked item management and a return to the classic battle setup. A game worthy of the deluxe subtitle, but it left fans wondering whether the hybrid console would ever get a true sequel. Five years, a mobile Mario Kart and a global pandemic later, Nintendo finally announced Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass, a collection of 48 new courses to devour.

That's right, a paid DLC package that includes double the number of tracks to discover over the base Mario Kart 8 Deluxe experience. Rather than doing a Netflix and dropping the entire season in one hit, Nintendo spread the content in waves over 18 months.

Now that fans can play through twelve additional cups, is this the ultimate Mario Kart package and worth the wait?

When it comes to one of their bestselling games on the platform, Nintendo were in a tricky situation. Was it worth splitting the user-base and launching the elusive Mario Kart 9? With Mario Kart 8 Deluxe drawing in new players, even today, it makes complete sense to expand what works, rather than double dipping. With rumours of DLC, fans had anticipated perhaps two or maybe four additional cups to download. Nintendo, being Nintendo, defied all expectations and essentially have doubled up the base game's content. Question is, are the selected tracks any good and can the Booster Course Pass invigorate a game that's almost a decade old?

As a now completed package, the short answer is... absolutely! There's an eclectic mix of retro and newer tracks to discover, with some surprising deep cuts from Nintendo's hefty karting back catalogue. Starting with the newcomers, these are made up of tracks from Mario Kart Tour, Nintendo's mobile experience, and a handful of fresh takes that came as a surprise.

The Mario Kart Tour selection have had a marmite reception, but these are some of Nintendo's best and most refreshing takes on kart design. These courses move away from flat set pieces to multi-layered and dynamic designs. The likes of Paris Promenade has players zipping through serene side-streets of the French capital, whilst Athens Dash takes players through stunning ancient ruins. Mario Kart Tour tracks make appearances throughout the waves, from the lush beach vibes of Los Angeles Laps to the hustle and bustle of London Loop - and despite drawing influence from real-world settings, fit perfectly within the Mario Kart mould. Having each lap vary in route and scenery keeps things fresh, with new short cuts opening up at points and creative ideas flowing in the run-up to the finish line. Certainly, a direction Nintendo should consider for a future Mario Kart entry.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass on Nintendo Switch

In addition to these, Nintendo have also included completely brand-new tracks into the roster, from the deliciously charming Sky-High Sundae, a track made up like a floating desert parlour to an effortlessly adorable Yoshi's Island tribute. These bring a more Mario Kart-esque quirkiness into the newness and fit in perfectly.

From new to the old with a look at the remainder of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass. There is just so much to choose from, with Nintendo drawing favourites from every single entry in the series - from the very first ground-breaking game on the SNES to slightly more obscure gems from the likes of Mario Kart: Super Circuit.

Without going through each in detail, some highlights include a return to Nintendo Wii fan favourites, including Coconut Mall, Maple Treeway, Daisy Circuit and Rainbow Road - a medley of much-loved courses that have been meticulously reworked into striking HD. Going back further, Nintendo have woven in courses like Kalimari Desert and Choco Mountain from the Nintendo 64 era, Daisy Cruiser and Waluigi Stadium from the GameCube and, of course, the iconic Mario Circuit 3 from the SNES. These fan favourites have been kept intact - with slight tweaks to shortcuts and design, but stay very much true to the original feel/style of their respective eras.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass on Nintendo Switch

For others, however, the developers have been a little bit more experimental. Boo Lake from the Game Boy Advance and Bowser Castle 3 from the SNES are two particularly strong highlights. In the original games both were flat, boxed designs, but Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass breathes new life into these classics with gravity-defying twists and turns. They feel familiar, but refreshingly different at the same time.

With 48 tracks to choose from, surely there are ones that may have been an odd inclusion. Yes, there are a handful of tracks that feel like filters - namely Toad Circuit, Sunset Wilds, Rock Rock Mountain and Mario Circuit. Namely because, thematically, these don't feel like they're adding any extra variety. That said, the number of excellent, well-designed tracks far outweighs the less exciting!

Beyond the tracks themselves, the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass also included the surprise drop of additional playable characters and Mii racing suits - the welcome return of Diddy Kong and Funky Kong from Mario Kart Wii, Birdo and even the likes of Pauline and Peachette. Nintendo hadn't previously confirmed additional characters or costumes, so having these brings even more value to an already heaving DLC package!

Screenshot for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass on Nintendo Switch

Finally, the DLC's presentation. How well do these additional courses fit into the base game? Musically Nintendo's sound team deserves all the plaudits for excellent musical arrangements. Every single one of the 48 courses has had stunning remixes and re-arrangements that are just as good, or even better, than the base experience. With the Mario Kart Tour direction bringing all sorts of musical flavours into the mix - from fierce flamenco to elegant bossa-nova. Even a handful have string sections that just work perfectly.

Visually, however, Booster Course Pass is a bit of a mixed bag. The DLC was criticised heavily at the start for appearing to be far simpler in visual fidelity compared to the highly detailed base game. That said, over time Nintendo have aligned more recent waves closer to the original tracks - bridging the gap. The latter waves - Waves 3 and beyond - feel far more considered visually than the initial two.

As a complete package Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass can be purchased separately as a DLC add-on to download and keep. At £22.49/€24.99/US$24.99, the collection offers exceptional value to those who want even more content to play and courses to explore! Alternatively, the DLC is also available as part of the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack subscription.

Screenshot for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: Booster Course Pass on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass is electric, experimental, and effortlessly fun set of tracks to race on, with plenty of content to keep players busy! Plenty of nods to fan favourites of old and a lot of fresh ideas to invigorate the series going forward. With additional characters, costumes, and quality of life changes, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe becomes one of the best entries in the series to date.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Driving

Players

8

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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