It\’s been a couple of months since Nintendo announced the first Mario Kart 8 DLC content. Among the surprises in this Mario Kart 8 DLC is the fact that you can play as Link, the first non-Mario Nintendo character to grace a Mario Kart game; and the inclusion of Zelda and F-Zero-themed levels among the 8 new tracks. But how does the content hold up?
Let\’s get something out of the way: Mute City and Hyrule Castle, the F-Zero and Zelda-inspired tracks, are absolutely top notch, easily on par with any of the game\’s original top tracks. They are so good, in fact, that they make the wait for Zelda U, and for a (highly unlikely) F-Zero HD game for the Wii U, much more painful to bear.
The main innovation that Mario Kart 8 brought to its franchise – the vertigo-inducing anti-gravity – came largely from F-Zero, and now it\’s all come back full circle to Mute City in Mario Kart 8\’s DLC. This track has some of the landmark F-Zero elements such as boost pads, healing pitstops (in this case they refill your coins, not your health), and even a cylinder pipe (though you\’re not allowed to rotate around its circumference like you could in F-Zero GX, unfortunately). On that note: the influences are certainly coming more from F-Zero X and GX, and not the franchise\’s 2D, Mode 7 classics. Perhaps this is a good sign for a potential F-Zero Wii U title, which would be just about the best news for those of us who adored F-Zero GX.
Mario Kart had absolutely nothing to do with any Zelda game prior to this, but that doesn\’t mean that the Hyrule Castle level couldn\’t do honor to the franchise. The Hyrule Castle track is actually a combination of Hyrule Field, Hyrule Castle, and the Temple of Time, and it\’s all beautifully crafted. Many staples of the Zelda franchise appear in the level, as they should, such as soldiers, Deku Baba that play the roles of Piranha Plants, and the Master Sword. Even the coins are replaced by rupees (and a nice touch in that the coin item is a yellow rupee).
The rest of the levels are decisively less memorable, yet still of similar quality to the game\’s original tracks. Yoshi Circuit, Excitebike Arena, and Wario\’s Gold Mine are my least favorites (though that last one may grow on me), but Dragon Driftway, Rainbow Road SNES, and Ice Ice Outpost are all beautiful, exciting, and fun. Still, the DLC\’s main course is in the F-Zero and Zelda tracks I\’ve described above. It\’s those tracks that are the best realized, and more instantly gratifying to play through. However, only time will tell which tracks stand better the test of time for both casual fun and competitive play.
There is one thing I wish this DLC had given us: Captain Falcon. We got Link, after all, so why was Captain Falcon out of the question? I would have taken him in a heartbeat over either of the fursuits Mario and Peach got. But at the other end there is one thing I\’m positively glad this DLC gave us: the ability to see Link act like this:
What are your thoughts on this Mario Kart 8 DLC? Do you find it on par with the rest of the game?