It feels like a lifetime ago since Nintendo announced that it would be expanding Mario Kart 8 Deluxe with the Booster Course Pass, adding a total of 48 courses made up of revamped classics and brand-new additions. But does the expansion end with a bang or a whimper? Well, much like prior waves, we’d say this one lands somewhere in the middle, offering up a bunch of solid circuits mixed in with a few mildly disappointing ones.
Pretty much par for the course, then, but let’s just remind ourselves of what’s included with this one. You’ve got two new cups — the Acorn Cup and the Spiny Cup — made up of three Tour tracks and five ‘legacy’ courses from previous series entries. Oh, and you've four new characters to try out, too. More on those later.
Starting off with the Acorn Cup, this is easily the weaker of the two. Like every other Booster Course Cup, the first track on offer is from Tour and is called Rome Avanti. It’s a reasonably pleasant jaunt, but after six waves, we have to say that many of the Tour courses tend to bleed into one another at this point; there’s not a single one that we can say is destined to become a true classic track. They’re fine, and that’s it. It’s pretty cool to drive through the Colosseum, though.
Next up is DK Mountain from Double Dash!!, and this serves as a reminder of just how safe those Tour courses are. It’s an absolute belter of a course that really shows off what Nintendo can do with verticality in this series. Sadly, Daisy Circuit cruises into view next and proves to be one of the most sinfully boring tracks we’ve ever played in Mario Kart 8. We could imagine it being reasonably good fun back in 2008 on Wii, but next to some of the delightfully imaginative tracks we’ve experienced on Switch, it just doesn’t hold up.
Finally, Piranha Plant Cove is a fine addition from Tour that makes good use of alternate routes when you complete each lap. It’s a gorgeous water-based track, though not quite as memorable as the likes of Ninja Hideaway or Sky-High Sundae. If anything, you probably spend a bit too much time underwater, resulting in a distinct lack of variety.
Moving onto the Spiny Cup, you’ve got Madrid Drive kicking you off, sending you through the city streets and right down the middle of a ruddy football stadium. It’s stylish stuff, but like Rome Avanti, it’s ultimately forgettable. Thankfully, things get back on track with Rosalina’s Ice World from Mario Kart 7, which remains a delightful Galaxy-inspired course with beautiful visuals, appropriate obstacles, and the odd sneaky shortcut here and there.
The penultimate track is Bowser Castle 3 from Super Mario Kart, and Nintendo has done a truly wonderful job translating this one into the modern era. With excellent use of the anti-grav feature, it’s a great example of how to take a relatively simple course and make it feel fresh once again (take note, Daisy Circuit). To close things off, we’ve got another take on Rainbow Road, making this the fifth and final (as far as we know) rainbow to grace Mario Kart 8. Based on the Wii version, it’s still a really great track, though the visuals on this one don’t pack quite the same punch as the 3DS variant.
Of course, in addition to the new courses, we’ve also got several new characters in the racer line-up, including Diddy Kong, Funky Kong, Peachette, and Pauline. Funky Kong and Pauline are both great options if you prefer the ‘Heavy’ category, while both Diddy Kong and Peachette are more all-rounders, with Diddy Kong, in particular, favouring faster acceleration and a slower top speed.
One weird nitpick we have, however, is that Funky Kong, as cool as he is, has a really annoying voice. It’s not a deal breaker or anything, but hearing him screech every time you boost or jump over a ramp is a little grating after a while. Just tone it down a bit, yeah?
If those four characters don't tickle your fancy, mind, you've also got a selection of 18 new Mii Racing Suits to choose from, including the likes of Castle Suit, Dry Bowser Suit, Goomba Suit, and Blooper Suit. There's a nice variety available, though we'd have liked Nintendo to be a touch more experimental with this. It could have proven the perfect opportunity to get more characters from other video game IP into the game, but alas, you'll have to rely on amiibo to bring in some third-party characters.
Judged on its own, the final wave for the Booster Course Pass is another perfectly fine, if slightly uneven addition to the expansion. The Tour courses remain reasonably good fun, but are ultimately forgettable, while Daisy Circuit stands as one of the most boring tracks in the entire game. Nintendo could have just adapted Airship Fortress instead, y'know? That said, there's still a lot to enjoy here, including four great new character additions, making Wave 6 a solid finale to the Booster Course expansion.