Even though it wasn’t featured on either of our individual lists, Mario Kart 8 was easily GIMMGP’s Top Game of 2014. This comes as no surprise to us, since Mario Kart was the reason we purchased a Wii-U. From the moment we first raced at a friend’s apartment, we knew we had to have this fantastic game.
As Laura mentioned in our first Gateway Games post, Mario Kart is aesthetically interesting, technically manageable, and “not the least bit concerned with the proper physics of a dinosaur riding a motorcycle.” The approachable gameplay and familiar Nintendo characters make Mario Kart 8 an ideal party activity. The wide variety of tracks and vehicle options kept our attention for months, and a healthy amount of post-release downloadable content ensured we would come back for more.
There have been two packs of DLC released for Mario Kart 8 so far. Each of these packs adds two grand prix cups (for a total of 8 new race tracks), three new characters, and four new vehicles. The DLC also features plenty of crossovers and cameos from other beloved properties, like the Legend of Zelda, F-Zero, and Animal Crossing.
We eagerly downloaded the first pack when it released in 2014, and we have more recently purchased the second pack since its 2015 release. Now that we have had plenty of time to digest the latest Mario Kart DLC, it’s time for a mini-GIMMGP review!
Favorite New Race Track: Big Blue
Chip is so pleased to see another F-Zero staple make an appearance in Mario Kart 8. As much as we loved racing in Mute City in the first DLC pack, Big Blue is our preferred Formula Zero flavor. The track features plenty of nods to its parent series, including damage barriers, energy refill pads, and AMAZING music. The soundtrack for Mario Kart already impressed us with its live band recording, so the dueling guitars and brass of Big Blue are especially exciting. We are also pleased to see another continuous track that is divided into sections rather than laps.
Runner up: Ribbon Road. It is delightful.
Loathed New Race Track: Cheese Land
We never played Mario Kart Super Circuit on the Game Boy Advance, so neither of us have any prior love for its tracks. So when one of the retro-remake courses happens to come from Super Circuit instead of our beloved Mario Kart 64, we are less than enthused. Cheese Land is a lackluster track, filled with garish yellow tones, grating harsh turns, and obnoxious moving obstacles. At least it’s not another Rainbow Road.
Runner up: Neo Bowser City. It’s very pretty, we are just terrible at it.
Chip’s Favorite Racer: Animal Crossing Villager
It’s no secret that Laura and I loved Animal Crossing: New Leaf. It was our mutual summer obsession in 2013. I love the aesthetic of the Animal Crossing series, so I was eager to see its inclusion in Mario Kart. The Villager fits my racing style quite well: a lightweight racer with solid turning skills. Plus, the addition of the chic City Tripper moped makes my Villager look quite fashionable while she leaves other racers in the dust.
Laura’s Favorite Racer: Dry Bowser
I inadvertently picked Dry Bowser the first time we played this DLC. What started out as an accident turned out to be a beautiful moment of serendipity. Do you know the feeling of finding a character in a game that truly understands you? Sure, he is a particularly fast, but this goes deeper than that. We are soul mates. The way he bullies the other players on the track. The way he breathes fire when excited or angry. How ridiculous he looks riding tiny motorcycles. Truly, we were made for each other.