Mario Kart 8 Version 4.0 DLC – Wii U
Platform: Wii U (DLC)
Release Date (NA): April 24th, 2015
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
We got our last dose of DLC for Mario Kart 8 back in November, and according to Nintendo, the next batch would’ve be available until the end of May. Lucky for us, they bumped it up a month! This latest package officially bumps the game up to “Version 4.0,” and completes the 2-part bundle that most people purchased some time ago (although the packages can also be bought separately).
Much like the bump up to 3.0, we get a few new characters, a few new karts, and 2 completely new cups with 8 new courses to run. Ver. 3.0 also introduced Amiibo support, which was just hitting shelves at the time. Ver. 4.0 also introduces a new feature beyond the extra content, a special 200cc mode! Unfortunately this is not available in all modes from the outset. While it can be accessed in certain multiplayer functions, it remains unavailable for regular ol’ Grand Prix mode until the player has gotten gold trophies for all of the original 8 cups at the 150cc difficulty level.. No need to 3-star them or rack up 10 coins, just get the gold…which is tough. I guess the rationale is that if you can’t get gold in the 150cc cups then there’s no point in playing at the 200cc level, but I really wish they’d make it available anyway.
Moving on to the content, we get 3 (but sort of 4) new characters. As promised, Animal Crossing’s Villager and Isabelle are selectable. A cool thing happens when you choose Villager though – you’re given the option of either choosing a boy or a girl! Last but not least is Dry Bowser, a surprisingly fast racer considering his bulk. A slew of new cars are available as well, 4 to be exact, including a new bike and particularly sleek sports car.
The real meat is the 2 new cups, the “Crossing Cup” and “The Bell Cup,” which breathe new life into the game with a total of 8 new courses. Each cup give us 2 brand new creations and 2 revamped courses from old games. In the Crossing Cup, we kick things off with the beloved Baby Park (originally from Double Dash!!), a 7-lap simple oval circuit filled with madness and mayhem. This has always been one of my favorite tracks and is especially conducive to Mario Kart 8’s combat aspects. Next up is Cheese Land from the GBA’s Super Circuit. The development team has done a fantastic job of bringing this course up to modern standards and it really feels like a completely new track.
Brand new to the series are Wild Woods and Animal Crossing. Wild Woods is set in the jungle with a moderate Donkey Kong vibe to it, though the level is filled with Shy Guys. Animal Crossing quite obviously takes its inspiration from the Animal Crossing series. A wonderfully designed circuit in its own right, it also cycles through the 4 seasons (not in real time), so not only does the environment look different, but parts of it have actually changed (such as some jumps and the placement of water). Both new tracks are gorgeous and fit in perfectly with the rest of Mario Kart 8.
As for the bell cup, it begins with a fairly faithful adaptation of Mario Kart 7’s Neo Bowser City. After seeing this course in 8, I can’t help but feel that the small 3DS screen doesn’t do it justice. It’s a dystopian, futuristic landscape with buildings and tunnels and lights and steel everywhere. Add in the constant rain, and it almost looks like the Mario version of something like Blade Runner. This is a great track full of twists, turns, and drop offs! The second race re-introduces us to yet another track from Super Circuit, Ribbon Road. Again, it’s hard to believe that this is the same track seen on the GBA. Taking place in a world full of oversized toys, it looks like a friendly version of Neo Bowser City with all the same perilous drop offs and sharp turns.
Super Bell Subway follows, immediately earning a spot amongst Mario Kart 8’s most diverse courses. With multiple pathways to take once underground and subway trains traveling in not one but two directions, this is perhaps the most lively course yet seen in a Mario Kart game. The F-Zero-themed Big Blue rounds off the new package, similar to Ver. 3.0’s Mute City. With several jumps, loops, and speed pads in a hyper-futuristic setting, Big Blue is a comfortable yet adventurous step beyond Mario Kart’s typical terrestrial racing.
Just like the previous update, the new components of Version 4.0 are integrated into the existing framework seamlessly. It doesn’t feel like any of it was merely “tacked on,” even for a second. Finally, all of those little blank spaces have been filled in! Surely Nintendo will continue to make small improvements as it chases down bugs and stability issues, but we may not see anymore major updates to Mario Kart 8, though I’d certainly welcome them.
If you already own Mario Kart 8 and you have a few bucks to spare, you definitely owe it to yourself to purchase the available DLC. Although I’m sure most (if not all) of the core upgrades are available free of charge, the loads of new content will undoubtedly add some life to your Mario Kart 8 experience. Each pack alone, known as The Legend of Zelda pack and the Animal Crossing pack, can be purchased alone for $7.99 or can grab both for $11.99. And now that all the release dates have been met, newcomers can enjoy all the “new” content instantly!
Check out these other updates to Mario Kart 8!
Reviewed by The Cubist
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