EVEN MORE MARIO KART
Nearly 11 months later, I’m happy to say that while it might not be selling millions of copies, it’s still impressing critics and fans in the form of its second DLC pack: Animal Crossing X Mario Kart 8. But, can it live up to the high standard of the first DLC pack, The Legend of Zelda X Mario Kart 8?
Similarly to the the first DLC pack, Animal Crossing X Mario Kart 8 is incredibly good value. The second DLC pack is $8 and contains:
- 8 new tracks – 4 retro, 2 crossover and 2 new.
- 4 new characters – Villagers Boy, Villager Girl, Isabel and Dry Bowser.
- 4 new vehicles – Bone Rattler, City Tripper, The Streedle and P-Wing.
- 1 new wheel type – Leaf Tyres.
- 1 new glider – Paper Glider.
- 8 different coloured Yoshis and Shy Guys – if you bought the season pass.
The courses are what you really care about and I can happily say that I found all the tracks were really fun. The four retro tracks, Baby Park (GCN), Cheese Land (GBA), Koopa City/ Neo Bowser City (3DS) and Ribbon Road (GBA), are all great tracks. The two GBA tracks obviously went through huge overhauls, as the Wii U is way more powerful than the GameBoy Advance. Both tracks have definitely seen huge improvements though I will admit that I prefer Ribbon Road overall. However, Koopa City/Neo Bowser City has changed very little and feels like a lazy port that really brings down the retro tracks. I’m not saying it’s a bad track, on the contrary it’s quite good, it just feels lazy when compared to the other retro tracks.
The cream of the crop is Baby Circuit. I never understood why gamers were so enamoured by this track until I played. Baby Circuit is so short that no matter how fast you go you’ll never escape the ‘pack.’ You are at constant risk of being attacked by red shells, piranha plants, boomerangs, etc. It gives a sense of unease that is very rarely felt by an experienced Mario Kart player. While Baby Circuit, like Koopa City/Neo Bowser City, makes only a couple of changes to the original, the differences completely change the way you play. The whole circuit is in anti-gravity mode. You might ask “what’s the big deal about that?” Well, before you would try to avoid players at all cost to avoid losing speed, but now you try to bump into as many racers as possible to get an essential speed boost.
Out of the two new courses, Super Bell Subway and Wild Woods, I’d have to say that Wild Woods is my favourite. It looks, plays and sounds amazing, and reminds me a lot of Dragon Driftway from the previous DLC pack. Super Bell Subway is also really clever as you can choose to be a rebel and drive on the train tracks and avoid trains or take the slightly slower and safer route above the tracks. Nevertheless, it’s not the most original track as Toad’s Turnpike and Moonview Highway are based on a similar idea.
The highlights, aside from Wild Woods, are definitely the crossover tracks. The Animal Crossing track, aptly named Animal Crossing, has had just as much effort put into it as Hyrule Circuit on all fronts, except for the name. Coins are replaced with bells, speed-boosting fruit will fall from trees, the course’s seasons changes, the side of the track is populated by all well-known Animal Crossing characters and the list goes on. Any Animal Crossing fan will be just as happy with Animal Crossing – seriously change that name; it’s confusing – as The Legend of Zelda fans were with Hyrule Circuit.
But Big Blue is the star of the show, with blaring saxophone and guitar riffs in the background. Blazing around those colourful twists and turns at high octane speeds makes you feel awesome. You literally will feel the same rush you did when playing F-Zero.
Unlike the first DLC pack, I’m really happy with the characters in Mario Kart 8 X Animal Crossing. We have three new Animal Crossing related characters: Isabelle, Villager Boy and Villager Girl. They’re all different and, while they stand out compared to the rest of the roster, they also fit in at the same time. The one non-Animal Crossing character is fan-favourite Dry Bones who looks amazing especially when the gaps between his shell light up and change from black to orange. Moreover, I am really happy that throughout the two DLC packs, Nintendo has balanced out the amount of light characters in the roster changing it from 13 light, 7 medium and 9 large to 14 light, 11 medium and 11 large.
The new vehicles, wheel and glider, are average overall. The Bone Rattler and City Tripper are great additions and exactly what the vehicle roster needed. The Streedler is average and forgettable, and P-Wing, while a nice fast kart, is so big and easy to hit with green shells and boomerangs it may as well have a target on its back. Finally, while the Leaf Tyres and Paper Glider look unique and different they add nothing new stat-wise.
The Verdict 8.6 out of 10
At the end of the day, Mario Kart 8 X Animal Crossing is as great as we expected it to be, but the first DLC pack was better. It has more Animal Crossing in it that than the first DLC pack had Zelda, but overall the tracks aren’t quite as good as those found in Mario Kart 8 X The Legend of Zelda. Nevertheless, the tracks are still great and the Bone Rattler and City Tripper are interesting and unique bikes/tricycles. Mario Kart fans definitely won’t be disappointed with this DLC pack. However, I think now is the time for the devs to leave Mario Kart 8 behind and focus their energy on Mario Kart 9 or a new F-Zero game… please.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Lucy Pallent is a Senior Writer at MONG. She is a girl gamer from a rock in the middle of nowhere and is the world’s biggest n00b. She likes Nintendo, JRPGs and food. Feel free to follow her random ramblings on Twitter.