Thursday, November 13, 2014

The first round Mario Kart 8 DLC is really good



Mario Kart 8's first DLC pack released early this morning with eight new tracks and other miscellaneous content, including lots of Zelda fanservice and even a playable Link!

All of the new karts are great. Link's bike, the Master Cycle, is easily the best bike in the game now as it's both an inside turner and faster than all the others with an original stat spread. The Blue Falcon and Tanooki Kart also have original stat spreads, with the Blue Falcon being satisfyingly fast (but not on par with the top tier speed karts) and the Tanooki Kart being mellower and more balanced but still satisfying. Link also got a set of Triforce Tires and a Hylian Glider, the the tires are a reskin of my favorite tires, the Slim tires, and the glider is one of the lighter varieties. Needless to say I'm very excited to use all of the new karts and parts as Daisy. Except for one.

The B Dasher is, just as i expected, a clone of the overpowered speed karts (Gold Standard, Sports Coupe, Circuit Special), so Red Monster B Dasher is back and that makes me nauseous. I used to love B Dasher in DS too but since 7 it's been ruined for me.

Playing as Link is just as satisfying as I expected. It's just fun to be the hero of courage with a big smile on his face racing around a track. Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach are also very adorable #notallclones.
In fact neither of them are even clones. Both of them are slightly lighter and have more acceleration than their nonsuited originals. They essentially created two new weight classes just below their originals' weight classes. Tanooki Mario also has at least two memorable voice clips from past games, one from Superstar Saga and the other which I can't remember its origin. One thing that bothered me, though, is that Tanooki Mario only very rarely turns into a statue for a trick. It hardly happens at all and I wish it was more frequent.

The new tracks are as a whole very good. The Excitebike track is really interesting and replayable but suffers from having too many item boxes for such a small track. It's kind of like Baby Park but nowhere near as bad (although it was hilarious in Double Dash). Dragon Driftway, however, is one of the worst in the game so far. It's full of drift turns that are outright abusing to players who prefer speed over handling, to the point where the camera most of the time won't show the road at all. It also has one segment where the sun's brightness in the background makes the road hard to see.

Mute City is beautiful. A very faithful track that borrows a bit from both SNES F-Zero and N64's F-Zero X, with elements from tracks other than Mute City. It's a lot of fun and has really creative usage of both boosters and Coins and where is F-Zero U I'm getting really impatient. Ice Ice Outpost is a really original track for the series. While somewhat visually bland it features two roads intertwined throughout most of the track. You can drive off one onto the other and you need to use this to make sure you're always taking the tightest turns possible.

Hyrule Circuit is easily the coolest thing in the entire series, however. It's a beautiful representation of the Zelda series that plays well and every turn feels just right. It's full of Zelda edits to the Mario Kart norm and, because of the (really cool) distinction of replacing all instances of Coins with Rupees, Mario Kart 8 is now the game to feature the most beautiful looking Rupees in the Zelda series. One complaint I do have is with the shortcut within the castle. It's a REALLY cool secret that represents the series well but it's near impossible to trigger without slowing down immensely. Other than that I think this track is nearly perfect with a representation of medieval fantasy that appeals to me more than any Zelda game to date.

Disappointingly though the returning tracks are some of my personal least favorites, however they all look nice. Yoshi Circuit I've always found incredibly boring, but here it doesn't even make use of any of Mario Kart 7/8's gimmicks. Wario's Gold Mine I've always sort of detested, but it's been updated with a very neat antigravity segment and more detail, and I find the track relatively fun now. SNES Rainbow Road is not only one of my most hated tracks in the series, but it was also already in the last game. However in 8 it's MUCH more beautiful looking and the music was also very well done this time. However I feel like the track could give someone a seizure more easily than any of the other Rainbow Roads. It's very hard on the eyes.

All in all the most significant part of this for me is the sad realization that, this will probably either be the beginning of a beautiful new Nintendo kart racing crossover series, or Mario Kart 8 will forever be known as 'the one with Link and Isabelle in it'. I love all the new content, but I want it to stay. And I want more of it.

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