The many lives of Mario Kart 8 continue with Nintendo’s DLC announcement during its first Direct of 2022, which will see courses from the series’ past added through 2023. But it’s not all sunny circuits and rainbow roads for longtime fans. Many are currently comparing screenshots between what Nintendo aired during the Direct and Mario Kart Tour, the free mobile spin-off of the popular racer, and finding more similarities than they like, especially for a paid, premium experience.
The Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – Booster Course Pass is $25 (but free for paying Switch Online Expansion Pack subscribers) and begins rolling out on March 18 with the first of six waves of eight new courses each. That first batch includes fan-favorites like Sky Garden, Choco Mountain, and Coconut Mall, one of the highlights of Mario Kart Wii. As devoted fans were quick to notice, however, some of the returning classics don’t quite look like the Deluxe versions players have come to expect from Mario Kart 8. Instead the less detailed and more cartoony art style makes them look like ports of the levels as they appear in the microtransaction-fueled mobile game.
“It doesn’t look bad tho but I understand if some ppl feel it’s outta place,” wrote Twitter user DynamoSuperX in a thread that garnered tons of responses. “I wouldn’t mind if these tracks were its own game, but since it’s tied to 8, they just look unfinished,” wrote user MercyKnifed. “Solid colors with no texturework done looks really different from the fleshed out more realistic approach 8 originally had.”
Similar discussions have been playing out across Nintendo of America’s mentions, Reddit, and Discord. While some players argue the returning courses look less detailed and realistic than other Mario Kart 8 tracks, others are willing to settle for anything. The game’s last meaningful update was released back in September 2018. “At this point I’m just happy we’re getting any Mario Kart content, even if it doesn’t look as up to snuff,” wrote one player on the Mario Kart subreddit. “However I do totally agree with the people here saying it’s jarring.”
There are also players who aren’t down on the new look at all, either because they’re fans of Mario Kart Tour or simply think the alternative style provides some variety. “Am I crazy or am I the only one who prefers the more colourful style of the new tracks?” one fan chimed in on Reddit. Of course, we won’t know how the courses actually play, or their final graphics and music, until they’re actually out. We also don’t actually know if Nintendo is “porting” the tracks, as players are assuming or if the final product will look exactly the same as what was revealed in yesterday’s Nintendo Direct.
Originally released on Wii U in 2014, Mario Kart 8 was ported to Switch by way of a Deluxe edition in 2017. It added more racers, better features, and received a fair number of updates after its initial launch. Now the best-selling game on Switch, it’s become a bit like Nintendo’s Grand Theft Auto 5: continually so successful that it didn’t seem like there was any rush to put out a sequel. But after an analyst claimed earlier this year that Mario Kart 9 was on the way, the new DLC feels more like a stop gap to appease fans while development on the sequel continues.
On the bright side, some of the new DLC courses are tracks that were original to Mario Kart Tour. As a free-to-play mobile game locked behind the Google Play and App Stores, the game could one day go out-of-date and become inaccessible. Having courses like Tokyo Blur and Paris Promenade added to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe gives them a better, if still imperfect, lifeline into the future.
Update: 3/17/22, 2:36 p.m. ET: Just ahead of the first batch of DLC courses’ release, players have already notices some changes to Coconut Mall. It looks like Nintendo pumped up the vibrancy on the colors and added reflections to the glass, though some players are still unimpressed with the apparent quality relative to existing courses.