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Mario Kart 8 3.0 (DLC) – Wii U

Mario Kart 8 3.0 (DLC) – Wii U

Mario Kart 8 - Wii UPlatform:  Wii U

Release Date (NA):  November 13th, 2014

Developer:  Nintendo

Publisher:  Nintendo

Genre:  Racing

Nerd Rating:  7 out of 10

Back on August 27th, Nintendo unveiled its first update for Mario Kart 8after which a “Ver 2.0” appeared on the title screen.  This was largely a minor update (which may be covered in a future article) that added a few karts, a couple of character color swaps, and  a few other features.  Available for purchase during the update were 2 additional kart/character/course packages, the first of which finally became available early yesterday morning at about 4am EST.  Now titled Mario Kart 8 Ver. 3.0, this update provides us with 3 more characters, 4 more karts, and 8 more courses to have fun with.

Mario Kart 8 3.0

Most player’s first pick. And why not? He’s in the upper tier when it comes to fastest characters.

Mario Kart 8 3.0I know that downloadable content (DLC) is no new thing, but it isn’t something we’ve seen much of when it comes to Nintendo.  They tend to be comfortable keeping their online services and content in the background.  However, I’m glad that they’ve chosen this route to keep the game fresh and give those of us who bought it 6 months ago a reason to whip it out and put in some play time.  Karts and characters are largely superficial additions (the kids will love ’em though) but having a full 8 new courses to master is a lot of fun.

I also admire how well these new features are integrated into the existing game.  There’s no separate “DLC menu” or “Extras” to dive in to; the new characters are appended directly to the existing character select screen, new karts show up with the rest, and the 8 tracks are added in the form of 2 new cups that show up alongside the original ones.  It’s all very seamless and natural, the way that any DLC should be. Even the spots for the 2nd update are filled with placeholders as a constant reminder.  (Unfortunately we won’t be seeing this release until May of 2015.)

Mario Kart 8 3.0

As of 4am EST 11/13, Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, and Link are unlocked!

Mario Kart 8 3.0 is the first Mario Kart release (aside from the Arcade GP series for arcades) to feature characters from outside of the franchise.  Link, from The Legend of Zelda series, is added to the roster along with Tanooki Mario (appearing as he does in the recent Super Mario 3D World) and Cat Peach from the same game.  Link is the fastest of the trio and truthfully, most of the time this is a game that comes down to sheer speed.  New karts are the Tanooki Kart, B Dasher, Master Cycle (possibly an Excitebike reference), and Blue Falcon (possibly an F-Zero reference).  None of the new faces or vehicles look out of place in the game; again, the content has been added seamlessly.

Mario Kart 8 3.0

A gorgeous shot of Mute City. Note the speed pads!

Now for the real fun – the new tracks!  Like the tracks of the original game, the new courses are divided into 2 new cups with 4 tracks each.  The Egg Cup contains the Yoshi-shaped track Yoshi Circuit from Double Dash!!Excitebike Arena, Dragon Driftway, and Mute City.  Yoshi Circuit is pretty much how I remember it, with lots of twisting, turning, and wall slamming if I crank it up to 150cc.  Excitebike Arena is a simple course owing to the simplicity of the original game (Excitebike) with plain visuals and a series of ramps.  This is a great course for trick jumps and all out full throttle racing; not quite as chaotic as Baby Park but a decent no frills no gimmicks course.  I’m not sure where the inspiration for Dragon Driftway comes from, though it’s one of the strangest new tracks.  Lots of twisting and turning anti-gravity stuff happening here, though as I said in my original Mario Kart 8 review, you don’t really notice being upside down all that much since the camera aligns appropriately (as it should).  Mute City, straight of the F-Zero franchise, is the most fun of the Egg Cup.  Instead of picking up coins along the way, racers must drive through what would’ve been regeneration pits in an F-Zero game for coins to build up.  These pits are located along the sidelines of significant speed boosters, leading to the choice of whether to grab coins or get moving.  There are probably more speed boots in Mute City than anywhere else in the game, and although the course is relatively simple, it’s always a breakneck ride.

Mario Kart 8 3.0

Hyrule Circuit

The second new cup introduced in Mario Kart 8 3.0 is the Triforce Cup.  It features Wario’s Gold Mine from Mario Kart WiiRainbow Road from the original Super Mario Kart on the SNES, and two new courses called Ice Ice Outpost and Hyrule Circuit, the later of which has a Legend of Zelda theme to it.  Wario’s Gold Mine is slightly simplified from the original Wii version, though this suits me just fine as I’m always flying off the Wii version of the course.  Rainbow Road is full of sharp turns and Thwomps; I wish I could compare it to the SNES version better, but it’s been quite a while since I’ve played.  Ice Ice Outpost is the least interesting of the 8 new tracks, though it isn’t exactly bad.  The entire course is a series of 2 intersecting paths that constantly cross each other, go under, over, and beside, and create lots of narrow passages where it is easy to get caught up in the crossfire of several enemies.  I wouldn’t say that there’s anything “wrong” with the course, it just isn’t as interesting as most others.  Hyrule Circuit is the highlight of the bunch.  Players must collect rupees instead of coins, and the Zelda setting, while not totally unfamiliar (it is still a castle, after all) is a nice change of pace, especially the secret little Zelda noise (and corresponding ramp) that one can trigger.

When it comes to graphics, gameplay physics, controls, and everything else fundamental to Mario Kart 8, the update is perfectly in line.  The new additions play, look, and feel just like the original game did on Day One and I couldn’t really ask for much more.  And as always, more content equals more replay value.

Mario Kart 8 3.0

My only gripe is the size of the updates.  I’m not sure how much memory was taken up by the initial upgrade to Ver. 2.0, but each of the new download packs takes up roughly 1GB.  Those with the “regular Wii U” which houses only 8GB of hard drive space will quickly feel the pinch of one quarter of their space being taken up, while owners of the deluxe 32GB model will have a little more breathing room.  Still, with such a large amount of space dedicated merely to a couple of updates, I have to wonder if a shoebox full of USB drives labeled “Wii U” is in store for the future, especially for those who frequently indulge themselves in Nintendo’s eShop.  Then again, 5 games have already consumed something like 38% of the space on my Xbox One; it looks like the industry is quickly requiring more space for their games than manufacturers plan to install in their consoles.  Our own The Watchman has mentioned a similar issue regarding his PlayStation 4.  (I haven’t taken a look at the memory use of my own PS4 just yet.)

Mario Kart 8 3.0

Overall, the update to Ver. 3.0 is a solid addition that anyone with Mario Kart 8 should buy without question.  There aren’t any “wow” moments (which is why I’m not going any higher than a Nerd Rating of 7), but then again I’m not disappointed.  It’s simply more solid content tacked onto an already solid game.  Each pack is available separately for $7.99, or you can go ahead and buy both for $11.99 and save yourself $4.  I recommend the latter!  At just a little over $10, it’s a more than worthy addition to your copy of the game whether you’ve had it since May or plan to pick it up in the future.

Need to catch up on other Mario Kart 8 updates?

Reviewed by The Cubist

Written by The Cubist

The Cubist

Co-founder, Head Author, & Site Technician

Find out what these ratings mean and how I rate video games.

I collect as much video gaming paraphernalia as I can get my hands on, especially when it comes to hardware. With over 40 systems including oldies like the ColecoVision and Intellivision, obscurities like the CD-i and 3DO, and the latest and greatest including the Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, 3DS, and PS Vita, I get easily overwhelmed. Most of the time you can find me firmly nestled sometime between 1985 and 1995 when it comes to my games of choice, but I’m also having a great time seeing what the 8th generation has to offer.

Currently in love with: Mortal Kombat

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One Comment

  1. Justicescooby
    Justicescooby says:

    This DLC looks pretty amazing! I can’t wait until I can buy it.


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