At the time of writing the first DLC pack for Mario Kart 8 — The Legend of Zelda x Mario Kart 8 — is just hours away. It won't stop there, either, as next May will bring a second pack to the successful Wii U racer. Yet as we eagerly anticipate blasting around Mute City while playing as Link on the Master Cycle — humorously called the 'Eponator' in Germany — we can't help but let our imagination get the better of us. What if this is just the beginning and more packs could be release later in 2015 and beyond?
With that in mind we've come up with some packs we'd like to see, following the same format as Nintendo with the exception that we're listing four tracks instead of eight. Sharing their dreams are editorial director Damien McFerran, managing director Anthony Dickens, editor Tom Whitehead and news reporter / reviewer Alex Olney. Alex has already played the first DLC pack, the lucky devil, and given the full lowdown in a preview.
Below are the results, all a pretty accurate reflection of the respective writer's tastes.
Damien's Pack: Sega x Mario Kart 8
Being a massive Sega fanboy, it was almost inevitable that I'd put together a pack which well and truly scratches my nostalgia bone. However, putting this selection together wasn't as straightforward as you might imagine — thanks largely to the fact that Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has already mined Sega's past pretty effectively. With that in mind, I've allowed myself to go a bit mad and pick some truly obscure elements from Sega's illustrious back catalogue.
- Scooter (Alien Storm) - It's always amazed me that Scooter (also known as Slammer in some parts of the world) hasn't been featured in more games. His "can-do" attitude and access to an endless inventory of replacement bodies should stand him in good stead when it comes to hitting the race track.
- Duke Oda (Cyber Police ESWAT) - Another lesser-known star from Sega's past, Duke is your average law enforcement officer strapped into a state-of-the-art robotic exoskeleton, which should provide adequate protection whenever a Blue Shell is deployed. Whatever you do, don't mention Robocop.
- Harri (Space Harrier) - You could argue that the lead character in Sega's insanely popular arcade shooter would be a poor fit because he doesn't need a vehicle - his gun appears to provide all the propulsion he needs. I'd ignore such criticism purely because I want to hear him shout "GET READY" at the start of each race.
- Three Seven Speedway (Daytona USA) - One of the most iconic tracks to grace any racing title, this oval course would need a bit of modification in order to fit within the crazy, upside-down world of Mario Kart 8, but it would be worth the effort just to hear that amazing theme song.
- Dolphin Tunnel (Scud Race) - Scud Race is home to some amazing tracks, and this legendary course is one of the most eye-catching, thanks to its aquarium theme. It's a crying shame that Scud Race never got an official home conversion, but this could be the next best thing (assuming you don't own the Xbox version of Outrun 2, which boasted many of the arcade game's circuits as bonus tracks).
- Fantasy Zone (Fantasy Zone) - The world that Opa-Opa is attempting to liberate in the Fantasy Zone games is a colourful, cartoonish environment which scrolls in an infinite loop. This might not offer the best template for a course in a racing game, but it would allow the developers a bit of creative freedom, at least.
- Grand Prix of Monaco (Super Monaco GP) - Due to the limitations of the technology available at the time, the Monaco in Super Monaco GP actually bore very little resemblance to the real-world course. By including it in Mario Kart 8, Sega and Nintendo could change this and add some fantastical anti-gravity sections to make it even more winding and challenging.
Hornet (Daytona USA) - That iconic red-and-blue livery is sure to stir up nostalgic feelings in all seasoned arcade-goers, and we already know that the Hornet is capable of withstanding plenty of punishment.
Alien Busters Van (Alien Storm) - I always thought the Alien Busters Van was criminally underused in Alien Storm, so it's high time that it was brought out of retirement, fitted with a more powerful engine and allowed to do battle with Mario and company.
Ferrari 330 P4 Type Prototype (Rad Mobile) - While many might pick the Ferrari Testarossa from Out Run, for me the car in Rad Mobile (ported to the Saturn as Gale Racer) is an infinitely more interesting prospect. It looks cooler, for a start.
F1 Car (Virtua Racing) - This boxy wonder will have been the first polygon-based car many of us older players ever stepped into, and despite its primate appearance and fragile frame, it should prove swift enough to leave many of Mario Kart 8's other racers in the dust.
Anthony's Pack: 2000s x Mario Kart 8
Whilst I have a huge amount of nostalgia for the 16bit era it's actually the GameCube and Wii that are the source for my picks of DLC goodness. I've got a mixture of some of my favourite games from the years 2000-2009, so sit back and open your mind to my choices:
- Samus Aran (Metroid Prime) - It's obvious right? Now Nintendo has finally embraced other franchises within Mario Kart it's only a matter of time until this bounty hunter gets her way for some high octane racing action.
- Jody Summer (F-Zero GX) - Another heroine of mine, Jody Summer from Nintendo's neglected F-Zero series. Piloting her fantastic White Cat surely there's no doubt that she'd win?
- Amaterasu (Okami) - Stretching my imagination now, but would it be cool for a wolf to be driving a Kart? I think so.
- Good Egg Galaxy (Super Mario Galaxy) - Ever since Nintendo first showed off the twists and turns of their anti-gravity track design I've been dreaming of some Super Mario Galaxy race locations, racing around planetary spheres sounds good to me!
- Varrigan City (MadWorld) - Just imagine... a track complete with its characters... transformed into the Sin City-esque graphical vision of MadWorld.
- Phazon Mines (Metroid Prime) - Deep behind enemy lines of the Space Pirates is where we should travel for an out-of-this-world race track.
- Tokyo Megaplex (SSX Tricky) - Forget Mount Wario, it's the Tokyo Megaplex we need... delicious jumps, delightful grinds and lots of secret passageways as we all speed our way to the finish line in style.
Epona (The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) - Yes we've got Link, yes we've got his Master Cycle but what we really want is Epona herself to carry Link to victory.
White Cat (F-Zero GX) - We can't have Jody Summer without the White Cat, my preferred vehicle of choice from F-Zero X would make a fantastic choice for all you speed demons.
Wii Balance Board (Wii Fit) - Wii Fit has developed into franchise in its own right with it's recent appearance in Super Smash Bros. so why not bring in a flying Wii Balance Board into Mario Kart 8?!
Ice Cream Van (House of the Dead: Overkill) - I know it's a long shot but Agent G and Detective Isaac Washington wouldn't be seen ****ing dead in Mario Kart 8 without their trusty ****ing Ice Cream Van.
Tom's Pack: Ready for Battle
I'm not doing a crossover — 'x' — branded pack because I'm a rebel, and because my theme is games with battles, action and possibly futuristic guns; I'm not actually bothered about actual Battle Mode DLC, though, so apologies! These are all games and franchises that I love, so their appearance in MK8 would make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
- Pit (Kid Icarus) - A particularly popular character, with a cheeky persona that was evident in Kid Icarus: Uprising, he could have some particularly cool stunt animations.
- Reyn (Xenoblade Chronicles) - I'm shunning Shulk in favour of the beefy co-fighter who is both lovable and intensely annoying at the same time. If he shouted "it's Reyn time" during every stunt, TVs would be broken by hurled GamePads.
- Isa Jo / Kachi (Sin & Punishment 2) — The Wii sequel in this short-lived series is one of my absolute favourite games, and with the two protagonists I'll cheat and have them both available.
- Bionis and Mechonis (Xenoblade Chronicles) - The terrific RPG takes place upon two enormous Mechs that actually each represent sizeable inhabited lands; as pure fantasy it'd be amazing to race across and around these machines with the larger world swooping by in the background. It's Mario Kart 8, so I don't give a monkey's about scale.
- Space-Pirate Ship (Kid Icarus: Uprising) - Scenes from Uprising have already made it into Smash Bros., and this would see the proud tradition of outer-space Kart races continue against a backdrop of a dramatic battle.
- Urban Ruins (Sin & Punishment 2) - Early on in Treasure's action title you do battle in a worn down city which, naturally has plenty of highways running through the chaos; this would have plenty of high-octane thrills.
- Coliseum Nascar (Fire Emblem: Awakening) - Take the gorgeous Fire Emblem setting that's already appeared in Smash Bros. and bring back the basic Nascar-style race, with 8-or-so short laps as the crowds roar you on.
Lightning Chariot (Kid Icarus: Uprising) - It's fast and looks rad, this made a brief appearance late in Masahiro Sakurai's 3DS title.
Kachi's Hoverboard (Sin & Punishment 2) - This would need a bit more development than a typical kart, but rather like Anthony's Balance Board suggestion this would shake things up.
Pegasus (Fire Emblem) - These winged creatures are extremely elegant, albeit a massive liability against archers, and would make for an attractive kart design.
Big Bad-Ass Mech (Xenoblade Chronicles / Xenoblade X) - We've seen the flying mechs in the footage for Xenoblade Chronicles X, and we want the satisfaction of rocking one around the track. You could sit within the mech as its arms hold weapons, for example.
Alex’s Pack: Super FX x Mario Kart 8
Back when I was a nipper there was a time when 3D gaming was something that flatout didn’t exist for me, but all that ended once my grandmother got an SNES in the mid-nineties. I can still remember being utterly blown away by the lowres, borderline textureless graphics the SNES could produce with that little extra chip in the cartridge.
There weren’t many games that utilised the hardware, but I think I’ve been able to rustle up some interesting choices.
- Fox McCloud (Star Fox / Starwing) — It couldn’t be any other way, when people think of the Super FX Chip, they immediately think of this victorious vulpine. If we can have Link, we can have Fox.
- General Pepper (Star Fox / Starwing) — One of those characters who was shrouded in mystery when I was young. You never saw him beyond a static sprite, and it’s about time he was a playable character in something.
- Kamek (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island) — A staple of the Mario series. This Magikoopa was one of the primary antagonists in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, and has appeared in most Yoshi games to date. Honestly, it's surprising we haven’t seen it already.
- Aqua Tunnel (Stunt Race FX) -- This level blew my mind as a child, with precarious halfpipes, underwater tunnels, dolphins, this track had it all. It was arguably a bit too difficult for a second level, especially considering you could die with very little effort, but because of this it was extremely memorable, and it would be a crime not to see it in HD.
- World 1 (Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island) -- Despite not having a real name as far as I know, World 1 was the first glimpse of the gorgeous hand-drawn style of Yoshi’s Island we got, and it was beautiful beyond anything we’d seen before. A track in this style with the Wii U’s graphical upgrade would be a sight to behold.
- Ice Dance (Stunt Race FX) — A track from the less conventional ‘Stunt Trax’ portion of the game. This slippery course was infuriatingly difficult to negotiate properly, and Mario Kart 8 is in dire need of some more infuriating ice levels.
- Space Armada (Star Fox / Starwing) -- One of the more unique levels in Starwing, Space Armada required you to fly through a swarm of enormous spacecrafts and even enter the ships themselves in order to thin the fleet. We only have three tracks currently set in space; this is not enough.
4WD (Stunt Race FX) -- This big, blue monster was the best choice for beginner drivers and was generally the first vehicle you could get away with using whilst getting used to the unusual physics and controls present in Stunt Race FX. Bulky, heavy, great grip but slow speed, this chap is the heavyweight of heavyweights.
Coupe (Stunt Race FX) -- This little yellow number was the car I used the most in my childhood. 4WD was too slow to beat my brother but FType was too hard to control and I was sent to the scrapyard in most of the races I tried to use him in. Coupe was the oddball of the game, a sensible, inoffensive little machine amongst the fast and the gargantuan.
2WD (Stunt Race FX) -- Frankly the craziest vehicle in the main game. You couldn’t steer with 2WD in the traditional sense, rather you had to use the shoulder buttons to shift your weight to get around corners. Controlling this two-wheeled menace was more luck than judgement for a child under ten, but a great machine nonetheless.
Arwing (Star Fox / Starwing) -- In its original polygonal glory, the Arwing was the first taste the world got of 3D gaming on a Nintendo home console. Whilst today the iconic starship has more detail and style, the original holds a special place in my heart.
So there you have it, four packs we'd like to see, though some may be too ambitious or silly to even be possible. Nevertheless let us know which is your favourite in the poll, and list your own Mario Kart 8 DLC hopes and dreams in the comments below.
Which of these Mario Kart 8 DLC packs do you like the most? (250 votes)
Damien's Sega Pack
Anthony's 2000's Pack
Tom's Ready for Battle Pack
Alex's Super FX Pack
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