Mario Kart continues to improve

Unlike last week I was actually able to play the beta that I was hoping to play. This was for The Crew, and I was going to write about it, mostly just to highlight just how bad the writing and story are (even for a racing game). I might do so just before the game eventually launches, as the gameplay isn’t actually too bad, similar to Driver: San Francisco (which I loved), but not quite as good, and with the recent problems in Assassin’s Creed Unity Ubisoft needs another strong game this year.

However today the much anticipated first DLC pack for Mario Kart 8 became available today. Nintendo have often been criticised for being late to the DLC party, yet whenever Nintendo has made a big deal out of its DLC it has always been worthwhile. MK8 might represent the best implementation of DLC from Nintendo so far. Further experimenting, Nintendo allowed people to pre-order the bundle (which is £3 less than buying individually) back in August, this also had the added incentive of giving players instant access to different coloured Yoshis and and Shy Guys.

Today before I had even switched on my WiiU it had already downloaded the main MK8 update, and then prompted to download my additional content that I had ordered straight away. My experience with the WiiU recently has felt more like the promise of “next gen” than the PS4.

Even though I knew what to expect in terms of the 8 new tracks and characters/vehicle parts I was still blown away by the new additions. The first track might be the second time that Yoshi’s Circuit has been remade, but everything about it shines (almost literally). I was constantly amazed at simply how vibrant everything looked, for a console that supposedly shouldn’t be compared with the Xbox One and PS4 it looks just as good if not at times better than most games on those systems.

Yet its not just simply the looks but more of the style, and this DLC represents the first time other Nintendo franchises outside of the main Mario/Donkey Kong series’ have been included in a Mario Kart game. Hyrule Circuit is just as wonderful as it should be, with nice little touches such as coins replaced by Rupees accompanied by Zelda jingles. Also there is something charming about seeing some toads cheering alongside Hyrule guards.

The bit for me that I was most excited about (yes even more so than a Zelda level!) was the inclusion of Mute City from F-Zero. F-Zero GX for the GameCube is one of my all time favourite games. It’s the reason why I still have it plugged into my TV and gets fairly regular use. MK8 already feels a lot like an F-Zero game due to its use of anti gravity, so whilst I was not entirely surprised about the announcement, it didn’t detract from my excitement. And damn has it been implemented well!

Again, like Hyrule Circuit, little touches have been made to make the track more like the game it’s from, such as instead of collecting individual coins by driving over them, now you collect them by driving over energy strips. Then there are also the hologram advertising boards adorning the sides of the track with Captain Falcon himself and his famous line “Show me your moves”.

The accompanying update also provided Amiibo support, which will bring specific costumes to your Mii character. So now I need to get the Captain Falcon Amiibo so that I can get even closer to feeling like I have a new F-Zero game. Although with the promince of F-Zero in the DLC and with Nintendo’s current trend of non-subtle easter eggs, maybe a new entry is in development? I can only dream…

Nonetheless the DLC marks a big step forward for the Mario Kart series. The next DLC in May is Animal Crossing themed, and whilst there is isn’t any further DLC announced, future entries in the series might begin with inclusions from other Nintendo franchises, turning it into something more akin to a driving equivalent of Super Smash Bros. If it prevents this excellent series from going stale, I’m all for it!

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