Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is back with Wave 4 (of six) of the Booster Course Pass tracks, this time covering the Fruit Cup and Boomerang Cup. Now that we’re over the halfway point, it really feels like Nintendo is starting to kick things into high gear with not only a stellar set of new and returning tracks but also an extra character in the form of Birdo. It all adds up to what is easily the strongest DLC release so far.
Starting with the Fruit Cup first, here you’ve got Amsterdam Drift from Mario Kart Tour, Riverside Park from GBA, DK’s Snowboard Cross from Wii, and the brand new Yoshi’s Island course. Amsterdam Drift, is arguably the strongest of the tracks from Tour, sending you soaring through the air against a backdrop of farmland and windmills before you’re cruising on the bed of the Amstel River. It looks so nice.
Riverside Park from the GBA is probably the only course that could reasonably be labeled a 'dud' in this latest DLC release. It’s certainly pretty enough, but simply by virtue of being a GBA track, it’s a bit simplistic, less manic, and gets quite boring as a result. DK’s Snowboard Cross, however, is excellent and showcases some wonderful verticality with some super tight corners. It’s definitely one for speed nuts to get their teeth into; 200cc is an absolute blast.
The star of the Fruit Cup, and indeed the whole DLC offering, is Yoshi’s Island. Much like Sky-High Sundae before it, this one makes its debut in MK8D (though we suspect it will show up in Tour before long) and you can definitely appreciate the sheer effort that’s gone into it in terms of visuals, layout, and bespoke nods to its namesake SNES game. It’s not the most complex we've seen, but you’ll be taking to the sky, racing across clouds, before splashing down into water below. It looks gorgeous, perfectly invoking the visual style of Yoshi’s Island with — as we've come to expect — excellent music to boot.
Moving onto the Boomerang Cup, this one offers up Bangkok Rush and Singapore Speedway from Tour, Mario Circuit from DS, and Waluigi Stadium from GameCube. The two Tour offerings are both surprisingly engaging and almost rival Amsterdam Drift; Singapore Speedway in particular looks really lovely, with neon lights providing a nice contrast against the night sky.
Mario Circuit is the only other track that veers towards mediocrity, but unlike Riverside Park, there’s enough here to keep you on your toes, including wandering Goombas and Piranha Plants which spit fireballs down the track. Last but not least, Waluigi Stadium remains as great as it’s always been, with treacherous terrain and deadly obstacles, including circles of fireballs and giant, wooden Piranha Plants. It’s great stuff.
Shout out goes to Birdo, too. We’re certain there will be legions of fans thrilled to see her join the roster. Much like Yoshi, she's a middleweight karter with a choice of nine different colour variations (including a rather sickly green we’re not too keen on). With five more slots freshly revealed on the character select screen, we can’t wait to see which other drivers Nintendo brings to the fold.
All in all, Wave 4 features quite comfortably the best set of tracks so far from the Booster Course Pass, with only one proving to be a bit underwhelming. We’re loving the Tour additions, and Yoshi’s Island is destined to be an all-time great. If Nintendo keeps this up, then we’ll be in a great position for Waves 5 and 6.