Major balance changes accompany Nintendo’s fourth wave of new tracks for “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe”

A new character, a retroactive shortcut and many bug changes were also included


Courtesy of Nintendo

The fourth wave of the Booster Course Pass introduces Birdo (right), a character with nine customizable colors, and Yoshi’s Island, a brand new track created exclusively for this game.

Elie Aoun, Copy Editor

On March 9, Nintendo released the fourth wave of new tracks to “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” as part of the “Booster Course Pass DLC,” including an update that made many changes to the base game—most notably, a major balance patch to karts and characters in order to achieve greater diversity in character/vehicle combinations. 

Some minor features were also added in this wave. Players can now use their rearview mirror when spinning, crashing or using a Bullet Bill item. Nintendo also created a new shortcut over a Whomp on Berlin Byways, a track from the third DLC wave, pleasing many fans who complained of Nintendo’s previous discouragement of large shortcuts. Many other minor bug fixes were included in this update which have reduced glitches such as characters slipping into the ground.

Additionally, Nintendo added Birdo as a playable character in this update. She is a character in “Mario Kart Tour” (2019) and was previously included in “Mario Kart Wii” (2008). In “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” she has nine different color variants that players can choose from, similar to Yoshi and Shy Guy. With the addition of Birdo, there are now five new slots on the character selection screen denoted with question marks, meaning that there will likely be more new characters in the final two waves to come.

The most notable change in the update is the rebalancing of karts and characters. Before this wave, most competitive players used a combination of Waluigi with the Wild Wiggler kart and Roller or Azure Roller wheels. A few others played the same kart combination with Roy or Morton or opted for the Biddybuggy kart. This update has given stat increases to many characters but excluded Waluigi, Roy, Morton and several others. Most vehicles have also been buffed with the exception of a few. These changes have completely shaken the meta of the game and made most world records obsolete in an attempt to bring more balance to the game’s customization. Some players have tried to find a new meta in characters such as Rosalina and Birdo and in karts such as the Teddy Buggy and Landship, but the jury is still out on the most optimal combinations. While many have praised the balance patch for its prospect of increased character and vehicle diversity, others argue that it will only lead another combination to become the overplayed meta.

Like the previous three waves, this DLC includes two Grand Prix of four tracks each, bringing the total number of DLC tracks to 32.


The Fruit Cup

The first track of this Grand Prix is Amsterdam Drift, a city track from “Mario Kart Tour.” This track takes racers through famous sites in the Netherlands, including its canals, Zaanse Schans and the Keukenhof tulip fields. Like most city tracks, Amsterdam Drift changes its layout every lap. It includes an underwater section and numerous extremely sharp turns that can be unpleasant to navigate. There is a difficult shortcut on lap one that involves hopping over a canal to skip a bridge, and there are a few other small shortcuts through patches of grass. Moving trams serve as obstacles throughout the track along with Piranha Plants in the tulip fields, but the pipes that shoot gusts of air in the underwater section are rather annoying. The music is unremarkable, but the bright visuals are pleasing. Amsterdam Drift alternates between being a fun challenge and a frustrating experience.



The next track is Riverside Park from “Mario Kart: Super Circuit” for the Game Boy Advance. The track has been greatly redesigned in this new version. Riverside Park is full of Ptooies, a type of walking Piranha Plant that blows bananas and mushrooms that they will drop if hit by players. There are several grass and mud shortcuts in the track and a pretty cave section that ends by driving through a waterfall. The track is short and simple with good visuals and music that fits the track’s jungle theme. While not being exceptional, Riverside Park is an enjoyable experience for players of all skill levels.



The third track in this Grand Prix is DK Summit, a fan-favorite from “Mario Kart Wii.” This track has kept all of the charm it had in “Mario Kart Wii” and has not been significantly redesigned: the long cannon section, half-pipes and snowboarding Shy Guy obstacles are all still there. Most importantly, Nintendo included the track’s famous “double cut” that involves driving over two chasms through the S-turn, saving a lot of time if done successfully but crippling a player’s race if failed. The snowy mountain aesthetic of the track is stunning and the music is amazing. DK Summit is a wonderful experience for all levels of players and presents a high skill ceiling for those who seek to master its peaks.



The last track in this Grand Prix is Yoshi’s Island, a brand new track for this game. This track has a few small shortcuts and many obstacles, including Stilt Guys, Huffin Puffins and a hanging Piranha Plant. On the glider section, players can drive through a moving Winged Cloud to create a new stretch of road that saves time compared to the default path. The visuals of this track are striking, with entire sections that do not resemble any other track in the game. The music is upbeat and typical for a Mario Kart track. Yoshi’s Island is a cute and enjoyable track, and its inclusion in this wave as a new track hopefully portends more new tracks in future waves.



The Boomerang Cup

This Grand Prix begins with Bangkok Rush, a track from “Mario Kart Tour.” This city track changes each lap and takes racers through many famous parts of Bangkok, including the Chao Phraya River, the Train Night Market and the Democracy Monument. The track lacks any serious shortcuts or obstacles—except for a glider shortcut around the Democracy Monument that does not even save time—but it does present some alternative routes in the form of highways over the track. The music and visuals are nice but not particularly notable. The lack of serious challenge or shortcut potential in Bangkok Rush make it one of the weakest tracks in this wave.



Next follows Mario Circuit from “Mario Kart DS.” This classic track has many off-road shortcuts and obstacles in the form of Goombas, a Wiggler and a pair of Piranha Plants that shoot fireballs onto the road. The track has several tight U-turns at the end of the lap that reward good driving. The track’s visuals have received a significant upgrade, while the music is simple and nostalgic. Even though Mario Circuit is relatively simple, it takes a lot of skill to avoid the fireballs and optimize driving around the tight turns, making this track a challenging and fun experience.



Nintendo included another famous track in this wave with Waluigi Stadium from “Mario Kart: Double Dash!!” for the GameCube and later “Mario Kart Wii.” The layout of this track has barely changed: the Fire Chains, Fire Bars, muddy pools, tires and half-pipes are mostly in the same locations. The Piranha Plants have been changed from their original horizontal orientation to a diagonal one, making them easier to avoid, and a new raised route has been added to parts of the track. The visuals and music of the track are unique and exceptional. Waluigi Stadium is still a difficult track to master and an exhilarating one to experience, and its inclusion in this wave is certainly a highlight.



The final track of the fourth wave is Singapore Speedway from “Mario Kart Tour.” This track’s inclusion in the Boomerang Cup alongside Bangkok Rush marks the first time that two city tracks appeared in the same DLC Grand Prix, and this track’s layout also changes with every lap. Players see many famous landmarks of Singapore on this track, driving on top of the Marina Bay Sands casino and through the Helix Bridge. There are several glider sections on this map but only a few minor shortcuts and no obstacles. The track is fast-paced, with stunning visuals and exciting music. Singapore Speedway is one of the strongest city tracks in the “Booster Course Pass” and it is a fitting end for the fourth wave of DLC tracks.