Nintendo is back with another wave of eight courses for the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass, bringing us to the halfway point of its overall road map. Now we're up to a total of 24 new tracks over six unique cups, but so far, the output has been a bit mixed: we’ve had some bonafide classics like Coconut Mall and Mushroom Gorge, but also some absolute stinkers like New York Minute and Tokyo Blur. So how does the latest wave compare? Well thankfully, there’s a lot here to like and fewer bad eggs in the mix, making this comfortably the strongest batch of new courses yet.
Starting off with Rock Cup, we’ve got London Loop, Boo Lake, Alpine Pass, and Maple Treeway. Things get off to a bit of a rough start, as London Loop is easily the weakest track of the whole bunch; this might come as little surprise given that it’s based on Mario Kart Tour and lacks the verticality and creativity seen in other games, but there’s no doubting that London Loop is an exceptionally dull start to Rock Cup. Conversely, the latter three courses are all remarkably fun in their own way, from Boo Lake’s deceptive simplicity to Maple Treeway’s meandering track and stomping Wigglers. It’s great fun and incredibly nostalgic if you’ve played the original games on which the tracks come from.
Moving onto the Moon Cup, this one introduces Berlin Byways, Peach Gardens, Merry Mountain, and Rainbow Road. Every course here is a certified banger, with Berlin Byways proving to be a significant improvement over London Loop with a lot more variety and some lovely views. Merry Mountain, also from Tour, is an absolute delight, and it serves as a perfect treat for anyone looking to get into the Christmas spirit. It arguably boasts the strongest sense of verticality of the whole roster and looks absolutely gorgeous to boot.
Many were citing Maple Treeway as the potential star of Wave 3 ahead of its release, but honestly, the 3DS version of Rainbow Road is undoubtedly the best track on offer. Combining a wonderful layout with absolutely exquisite visuals, this is genuinely one of the strongest tracks in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (and Mario Kart overall), period. It might not offer a lot of challenge to veterans of the series, but crank the difficulty up to 200cc and you’ll be in heaven.
Aside from London Loop, the only other major complaint we have with Wave 3 is a familiar one: the sheer inconsistency with the visuals. While Rainbow Road, Maple Treeway, and Merry Mountain all look gorgeous, tracks like Alpine Pass and Peach Gardens stand out in the worst way possible, with oddly artificial-looking scenery and bland, flat textures. It’s a shame, but not a deal breaker, and the better-looking courses seem to have upped their game from the previous Waves.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass Wave 3 is the best update yet to the base game. The tracks on offer here are mostly stellar, and with the addition of customisable item loadouts in ‘VS Race’ modes both online and offline (which is available to all players, regardless of whether you have the Booster Course Pass), Wave 3 is a triumph and a great way to mark the halfway point of the Booster Course Pass.