Game Reviews

We Review: Mario Kart 8 DLC: Animal Crossing x Mario Kart

Hello, fellow Mario Kart 8 lovers! We’re back with an exciting review of the new DLC tracks that launched yesterday. We already reviewed Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U when it first came out over here, and we reviewed the first set of extra tracks, Zelda x Mario Kart, over here. Now we have the last lot of tracks and karts and characters—two more cups and eight new track, plus some more new characters and vehicles, all being reviewed right here, right now, by me. Let’s race!

This DLC pack for Mario Kart 8, titled Animal Crossing x Mario Kart, like the last pack, contains a lot of stuff, so I’m going to present it as a list for the sake of ease of reading.

  • The Crossing Cup, which contains
    • Baby Park (a remake of the Gamecube circuit, and the only MK8 track to feature 7 laps instead of the usual 3)
    • Cheese Land (a remake of the GBA track)
    • Wild Woods
    • Animal Crossing
  • The Bell Cup, which contains
    • Neo Bowser City (Mario Kart 7 remake)
    • Ribbon Road (GBA track remake)
    • Super Bell Subway
    • Big Blue (F-Zero remake)
  • Three new characters
    • Villager (girl or boy)
    • Isabelle
    • Dry Bowser
  • New kart parts
    • Animal Crossing Streatle
    • City Tripper Scooter
    • P-Wing
    • Bone Rattler
    • Assorted wheels and gliders to match

The DLC pack also releases alongside a major title update, bringing the software to version 4.0. The new version 4.0 update sees the introduction of new 200cc races (but you need to have completed the 150cc races to unlock them), ten new Miiverse stamps, support for nine new amiibo, and the ability to add CPU racers to online matches using custom rules. That’s a lot of new stuff to get through!

MK8_Animal_Crossing_DLC (1)

Regarding the tracks themselves, the Wild Woods and Super Bell Subway are definite firm favourites—the courses themselves are beautiful and delightfully made. The addition of the Animal Crossing track, though, makes the Crossing Cup one of the best cups to play through. The track itself changes seasons with every playthrough, so you’re never quite sure what experience you’ll get when playing the track, whether it be autumn leaves hiding powerups, or snowmen littering your path. I didn’t notice any drastically different handling through each season, though, but you might have to slightly alter your driving to match the foibles of each season. Baby Park, at the other end of things, is the ultimate griefer track. It’s short and punchy, meaning that if you’re well ahead, expect to lap last place several times over. The does, however, mean that this is the only track where the last place driver can directly hit first place drivers without using the Spiny Blue Shell. Brilliant? Oh absolutely. Many of these tracks make me wish there was a way to play tracks individually.

The 4.0 patch seems to have addressed some rebalancing in the game regarding the kinds of powerups that get picked up at certain positions. The AI racers have also seem to have been tweaked at higher skill levels to take advantage of tactics the pro-Mario Kart 8 racers have learned to exploit. I’m not sure, but I think I did spot one AI racer using fire-hopping. Take that with a grain of salt, though, since it was in the middle of some insane shelling action.

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The new 200cc mode is simply insane, and even though it’s part of the 4.0 update and not the DLC, I still need to discuss it. I’m still learning tactics for getting through the cups at these new speeds, but the learning curve from 150cc to 200cc is ridiculously steep. For one thing, you need to learn to use your brakes (or at least ease off the throttle a bit) to get around some corners. Note that this mode only unlocks once you’ve cleared 150cc mode’s cups, and doesn’t require you to clear Mirror mode.

I can’t find much to complain about this time around. The three new racers are a great addition to the roster (although it does open up some questions about exactly what Animal Crossing’s relationship is to the Mushroom Kingdom…) and the tracks are gorgeous and beautifully animated. In fact, the Animal Crossing track, in particular, is making me hope that a Wii U version of Animal Crossing is somewhere on the horizon.

MK8_Animal_Crossing_DLC (3)

What makes this possibly the best deal DLC in the history of gaming is just how much content you’re getting for your cash. Between the two DLC packs, you’re getting half again the number of tracks as the base game for less than a quarter of the original’s cost. Other video game companies could stand to learn a lesson or two here in how to do DLC right. Is the second pack worth getting? Yes, and yes, and yes. The new tracks are brilliant fun to play, and if you’ve abandoned Mario Kart 8 for other games lately, this is a very good reason to come back into its loving, asphalty embrace. There’s really little to complain about here: it’s great fun to play, and the new karts, while not exactly shaking up the dynamic of the game, still make for good customizations. In fact, this DLC pack is superior to the first one, and that’s saying something.

Final Score: 10 even more extra content prawns out of 10

Detailed information:
Base Game: Mario Kart 8
Platform: Wii U
RRP: R96 individually, R144 as a pack (eShop, or from within the game)

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