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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 5 reviewed and ranked

Starring Kamek

It’s interesting to see how public perception of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass has changed since we’ve actually gotten our hands on the tracks. Before the first wave hit the Switch, there seemed to be a lot of animosity toward the DLC. People were mad that it wasn’t a new game or that the added tracks didn’t have the same vivid art direction as those native to Deluxe.

Yet here we are on Wave 5 and all that negativity is gone. I’m not seeing it on the socials as much as I used to. And while that might be because my main social is being driven into the ground by a butter-bodied billionaire who names his kids like they’re fan-fiction Star Trek characters, I’d like to think that people are realizing more Mario Kart is always good and just having fun with it.

Which is why it’s good Nintendo didn’t start this DLC campaign with the tracks of Wave 5. Because overall, this set’s pretty mid.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 5 (Switch)
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: July 11, 2023
MSRP: $24.99 (or part of Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack)

I know not every Mario Kart track is a masterpiece. With the Booster Course Pass adding 48 tracks to the game, we were bound to get some duds in there. But there is something about this wave that just didn’t click with me. Even with a brand-new track in the mix, I’m not sure the Feather Cup and Cherry Cup hit on all cylinders as they should as the penultimate wave of the DLC. Nevertheless, like the other waves in the Booster Course Pass, I am ready to rank and review these eight tracks

To see our rankings of the previous waves, click one of the following links: Wave 1, Wave 2, Wave 3, Wave 4..

8. Moonview Highway (MKWii)

There was very little question in my mind where Moonview Highway would rank on this list once Nintendo revealed it would be part of Wave 5.

Yes, aesthetically it looks nice. Your trip around this traffic track alternates between a serene moonlit highway and a pulsing, neon city. However, I considered the track’s layout boring on the Wii and it’s no different here. Despite the presence of other cars and bob-omb mobiles on the highway, it’s far too simple of a design. The track layout ensures you never have to use the brake, even when you’re playing in 200cc.

It still looks nice, but there is a far better late-night city course that could have been added in its place. Or heck, even Toad’s Factory as that one has yet to appear as a retro track.

  1. Los Angeles Laps (MKT)
    Of all the tracks added from Mario Kart Tour, this is the first one where I’ve actually been able to point out the city’s landmarks by memory. I spent a couple of years living around Los Angeles, so when I drove through Rodeo Drive, the Santa Monica Pier, Dodger Stadium, the oil fields of Culver City, and Venice Beach, all those memories came rushing back in.

Unfortunately, just because it was a tour of my past doesn’t mean it’s that great of a track. It suffices in turning Los Angeles and the surrounding area into a Mario Kart track. But as somebody once lived in the city, it’s missing the one thing I most associate with LA: traffic. If any city that should become a traffic track, it should be LA.

  1. Daisy Cruiser (MK:DD)
    It feels weird to put Daisy Cruiser this low on the list as I have a lot of great memories of this track back on the GameCube. It’s still a great concept, but I don’t necessarily agree with all the changes that have been made to it.

The original Daisy Cruiser was a rather restrictive experience. At the starting gate, you could only go right and you had to drift around the pool on the top deck (or master the sliver shortcut on the right-hand side of it). In the dining hall section, the tables in the dining hall were massive and numerous, and the Item Boxes would roll independently of the tables.

Since it appeared in Mario Kart 7, a lot of those designs have changed. You can now drive through the pool, and the tables in the dining hall are smaller. I appreciate the changes made to the lowest deck, transforming it from an empty shipping container compartment into an aquarium. Still, I think Nintendo made too many changes that make the course less interesting than when it first debuted. Even the addition of toobin’ Goombas in this iteration of the track can’t lift it up. Also, I miss the clouds with smiley faces.

  1. Sunset Wilds (MK:SC)
    If there is one thing that sells me on Sunset Wilds, it’s the soundtrack to the course. The music here is absolutely alive with a 90s western-comedy vibe (think City Slickers) that I can’t get enough of. The course itself has a nice layout with mud traps to slow you down, but where the heck is the sunset? How do you have a course called Sunset Wilds and not include a sunset? For Pete’s sake, there was a sunset in the Game Boy Advance and Mario Kart Tour versions of this track.

I hope this is just an unfortunate oversight on the part of the developers and the sunset gets patched in, because it really does add to the ambiance of this American Southwest-themed track.

  1. Athens Dash (MKT)
    Mario Kart Tour added Athens Dash during the Spring Tour that ran between April and May of this year. The Tour version of the track has two routes tied to it, both of which are combined here with a third route for this intro course to the Feature Cup. There is a lot of verticality here as the track takes racers around the Acropolis, Parthenon, and Hadrian’s Arch. Like with Bangkok Rush, the landmarks of Athens Dash aren’t condensed. A tremendous number of columns stand in your way, making this one of the trickier tracks of Wave 5.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly special about this track, but as someone who loves antiquities, I appreciate its inclusion. Once this one hits online, I have to imagine it’ll be a tremendous pain as heavier racers can easily knock you into those columns and pillars that’ll bring you to a halt.

  1. Vancouver Velocity (MKT)
    Vancouver Velocity almost got me to reinstall Mario Kart Tour before I realized what a bad idea that was.

As a big fan of the Winter Olympics, I felt eager to see its design knowing the city’s Olympic anniversary heavily influenced the track. The Olympic Cauldron is one of the first notable objects from the city you’ll see, and it looks spectacular with the aurora borealis in winter aesthetics. Flat background forest aside, Vancouver Velocity looks wonderful. The track takes you to enough locations that it feels like a complete trip rather than a brief visit.

I’m not sure if a trip through Massey Tunnel was necessary, or the two trips to the ice rink. I still enjoyed this track, though like most other courses in this wave, it remains okay at best. The addition of an anti-gravity section to the Capilano Bridge is a nice touch and arguably the best use of the feature in all the Tour tracks of this wave.

  1. Squeaky Clean Sprint (MK8DBCP)
    The first time I drove through Squeaky Clean Sprint, I didn’t really care for it. I thought it was too basic in design and the concept didn’t really wow me. In the first draft of this list, I had it all the way down at #7.

But as I replayed all the tracks throughout the weekend, it really started to grow on me. Aesthetically, Squeaky Clean Sprint has a lot going for it. It presents a world where Nintendo realizes the full potential of merchandising possibilities it has with its Super Mario IP. This giant bathroom (or regular-sized bathroom and all the racers are shrunk down to the size of Hot Wheels) is brimming with so many cute little design choices implementing elements from the Super Mario series that it looks like the type of bathroom I would have wanted when I was 10. And the track really does take the concept and run with it. I particularly like the bath balls in the tub that fizz up to give you extra air but also bounce if you run into them. There are also a few good shortcuts and alternate routes to use.

It’s a fine layout. Overall, I’d rank it between Sky-High Sundae from Wave 2 and Yoshi’s Island from Wave 4.

  1. Koopa Cape (MKWii)
    Mario Kart Wii is arguably the most maligned entry in the franchise by long-time fans of the series. Yet it has great tracks, several of which have already appeared in the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass. Koopa Cape is another solid course from that entry, boasting a running river that tests your handling around corners, a drop that goes straight down like a roller coaster, and an underwater section that’s improved here with the addition of anti-gravity.

In truth, I haven’t really thought about Koopa Cape all that much (and yes I do spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about Mario Kart tracks) likely because I confuse it with Rock Rock Mountain. But I’ll do a better job of remembering this track now thanks to how insane it is at 200cc. I play all the tracks in all the different modes when doing these reviews and I cannot stress enough the bonkers nature of Koopa Cape when going that fast. It is the best test of your braking skills in Wave 5 and I cannot wait to take this online to see how other players adjust to its speed.

Of all eight courses, I only really like Koopa Cape and Squeaky Clean Sprint. Everything else is just okay or mediocre, which is why I’m arguing this is the weakest wave of the Booster Course Pass so far. If there’s one element keeping me from scoring it any lower, it’s the addition of three new racers: Kamek, Wiggler, and Petey Piranha. Wiggler is a great addition with the way he turns red when an item hits him, but I spent most of my time karting as Kamek. As a medium-weight-class racer, he’s right in my wheelhouse.

With this, we have just one wave of tracks to come. That’s eight more chances for some of the best tracks in series history to still make an appearance. If they don’t, I can always take solace in the fact that Mario Kart 9 is probably on the horizon at this point for whatever the successor to the Switch will be.

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