As we’re all aware, Mario Kart 8 is just about to zoom around the corner and handbrake turn into our shiny Wii U consoles, which makes it pretty difficult to think about anything else at the moment. With the recently released Mario Golf: World Tour offering paid DLC packs – including additional courses, characters and challenges – it’s not hard to imagine that Nintendo may have similar plans up its sleeves for what could be the company’s most important title of 2014. Paid DLC is certainly not a new venture for the Big N by any means, and there’s no denying that it is becoming an increasingly common option for many of its recent titles, including Pikmin 3, along with free-to-play experiments with Steel Diver: Sub Wars and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball.
We at Nintendo Life began to wonder, ‘if Mario Kart 8 was to offer DLC, what would it actually be?’ Below are some of our ideas but, remember, they are just ideas.
Mario Kart, like most racing games, is all about the courses first and foremost, so this is probably the best we could hope for when it comes to DLC for MK8. We already know that the latest addition to the series features 16 brand new courses as well as the 16 retro courses, which has been the staple setup in each instalment since Mario Kart DS – although retro courses were first introduced in Mario Kart: Super Circuit. 32 courses is probably enough for most Mario Kart fans – especially when the unlockable mirror mode essentially doubles that figure – but undoubtedly some players will be crying out for more. If Nintendo were to offer additional tracks as DLC the obvious choice would most likely be to provide more retro courses. Why? Because the track designs already exist – although each retro course has to be rebuilt from scratch – cutting out a lot of the logistics that go into creating a brand new track (aside from incorporating the MK8 anti-gravity sections, naturally). There’s also the notion that gamers do love a bit of nostalgia, especially when it comes to all things Mario, which also makes it less of a gamble when parting with our hard earned cash.
But then, what’s the likelihood of actually getting new tracks as DLC? Well, as mentioned earlier, Mario Golf: World Tour’s DLC offers additional courses (as well as characters and challenges) that further expand an already expansive title, but these courses were apparently created in the developer’s down time – between completing the title and the lengthy delay to its release date. Obviously, courses take a long time to develop, so unless Nintendo decided to make more courses than necessary and are keeping them back for the purposes of DLC, we don’t recommend holding your breath.
Something many fans have cried out about is the lack of dedicated battle arenas in Mario Kart 8. This time around battles will take place on a selection of eight existing courses from the main game, but with racers starting off in opposite directions of the track. Although a strange omission, we found in our review that battles on some of these courses were still quite enjoyable, although certainly not as fun as arena battles. With this being the most altered – and subsequently criticized – feature in Mario Kart 8, Nintendo could fix this by offering dedicated arenas as DLC. Even though switching out arenas for existing courses was a deliberate design choice, according to the game’s director, Kosuke Yabuki, the most sceptical of fans may see this odd exclusion as a way for Nintendo to sell dedicated battle arenas via DLC.
Mario Kart 7 introduced the series to vehicle customisation, and it makes its return in MK8. Vehicles, wheels and gliders could all make potential DLC, although Nintendo would need to be careful not to upset fans by offering souped-up add-ons that could, for example, put players who haven’t purchased the same DLC at a disadvantage. One way this could be easily solved is by applying simple re-skins to some of the game’s existing customisations, in order to keep in with the game’s fairness balancing; which Nintendo has apparently spent a lot of time tuning in Mario Kart 8.
A fairly obvious choice for DLC is, of course, characters, as there are always some fan favourites that don't make the final cut. Mario Kart 8’s roster seems to have dropped a few racers from some of the series’ previous entries, such as Diddy Kong, Dry Bones and King Boo, in favour of newcomers like the Koopalings, Metal Peach and Baby Rosalina; this makes DLC the perfect way to fill in gaps left by those excluded from the core game. Of course, there's nothing to suggest that other characters from the Mushroom Kingdom couldn't be added, as well as those from outside of it, a la Super Smash Bros. In terms of balancing, it certainly wouldn't be too difficult for Nintendo to offer additional characters as DLC, as they’d most likely be added to one of the existing weight classes in MK8.
Although Mario Kart Wii offered competitions through the Mario Kart Channel (which sadly ended earlier this week) and Mario Kart DS had its own mission mode, Mario Kart 8 instead offers ghost time trail races and customisable online tournaments. Even though Mario Kart 7 still hasn't offered equivalent challenges to that of its Wii and DS brethren, we’d love to see them make a return on the Wii U – even in the form of DLC. Having these little unique experiences where, for example, you might have to finish an existing course by driving in reverse, or maybe even smashing all the item boxes in a given room by ramming into them, can be a pleasant change of pace from the main game.
What do you think? Would you be in favour of Nintendo offering DLC for Mario Kart 8? If so, what sort of content would you like to see? Let us know in the polls and comments below.
Would you like to see paid DLC in Mario Kart 8? (607 votes)
I'm very interested, but the pricing and content has to be fair
I'm not sure
I don't think so, but I'm open to persuasion
Most definitely not
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Which kind of paid DLC would you most like in Mario Kart 8? (597 votes)
All of the above
None of them
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