You know a game is special when you idly find yourself Googling DLC to see if there’s news of an expansion pack on the way. While I’ve found myself constantly checking in on the much-delayed Cuphead DLC, there was one game that I’d given up hope on: Mario Kart 8. It just felt too old, especially when the game’s last DLC came when the Wii U was still a thing back in 2015.
But out of nowhere, Nintendo has delivered: Mario Kart 8 Deluxe will be getting a total of 48 classic tracks in six packs over 2022. Add that to the 16 DLC courses already included in the ‘Deluxe’ Switch version of the Wii U classic, and you’ve got a game with phenomenal legs (well... wheels).
When I read the announcement on Twitter last night, I was expecting everyone in the comments to share my glee with a plethora of ‘Shut Up and Take My Money' meme responses.
I saw some of that sentiment, but what I also found was apathy and downright hostility. Plenty of people were moaning about the fact that Nintendo should be working on Mario Kart 9 instead, which was an absolutely baffling response to me.
How to build on perfection?
No doubt some of that is down to the perverse incentives Twitter offers to be noisily angry and contrary with the currency of likes, retweets and exposure. But nonetheless, I seem to be in the minority when I believe that more DLC for Mario Kart 8 is better than pushing us all towards Mario Kart 9.
There are a few reasons for this. The first is simply that, for me, Mario Kart 8 is the pinnacle of the series. I’ve played every Mario Kart game (including Double Dash’s 16 tracks excessively during my university days) and the Wii U/Switch version feels as close to perfection as the series has reached.
With Mario Kart 9, Nintendo will no doubt feel the need to shake up the formula, and there’s a real risk that the lightning-in-a-bottle the company caught with 8 will be lost as it tries to find a new USP.
Even if it doesn’t, we’d be in the awkward position of needing to load up two different Mario Kart games to get access to all the tracks on the Switch: that’s just a bad user experience. And suffice to say, university-era Alan is seething with jealousy that 30-something Alan gets to enjoy a multiplayer Mario Kart tournament with 96 courses when he was stuck with a measly 16 back in 2003.
Let’s also not forget that while Mario Kart 8 generally runs beautifully on the Switch, there are clear signs that it’s pushing the console hard. For proof of that, just try playing split-screen multiplayer with more than two people and watch the framerate plummet. Bringing out Mario Kart 9 now, rather than waiting for the Nintendo Switch 2, would just be limiting the game’s potential.
Finally, there’s the simple dollars-and-cents argument. A new Switch game costs $60, but Nintendo is selling all 48 courses for $25, which is phenomenal value — such value that I originally wondered if Nintendo would be charging $25 per batch. But no: it’s $25 for all 48 courses. Sorry to sound like a stuck record here, but the GameCube version had just 16 tracks that I happily paid full price for back in the day.
So while I understand the arguments for the new and shiny, I’m thrilled that Nintendo is working on Mario Kart 8 again. Keep improving on perfection and leave Mario Kart 9 as a showcase for the power of the Switch 2.
Thanks Nintendo. Now if you could find your way to making some more Mario Odyssey worlds, I guarantee that the Switch will be my most used console of 2022…