When I first sat down to write this article, my initial plan was to spend the first half of the review saying how much we needed more Mario Kart 8 DLC packs, and not just Mario Kart 8 DLC Pack 3; we need four, five and more, depending on the life span of the Wii U. Thankfully, Nintendo anticipated my wishes and addressed them early before I even had a chance to make them. Thanks, Nintendo! It’s refreshing to see that Nintendo is embracing this new component to their games, and great to know the game will stay fresh as they continue to update the game and add new content.
That being said, Nintendo hasn’t said anything about what they’re going to continue to add. Understandable, considering they haven’t actually officially announced any new DLC packs for the game, and frankly, they could even do away with packs and simply make available new cups or characters for an even smaller fee. Either way, there are definitely some things worth considering in future Mario Kart 8 content.
Homage to More Franchises
Yes, they should absolutely keep doing this. They did it well (especially with Animal Crossing), and I personally really enjoyed seeing other characters like Link (maybe not entire tracks full of Link, though) make an appearance in the pack alongside other Mario characters – a great balance of in-franchise and out-of-franchise for the entire pack.
A lot of people are clamoring for an entire Super Smash Kart. It’s actually a pretty cool concept, but worries me given the possible addition of all these new items (remember how idiotic the sheer number of items is in the Arcade version.) Keeping non-Mario characters in a Mario game works just fine. The problem though is – how does Nintendo choose which franchises? Zelda made perfect sense as the first one, but Animal Crossing seemed like an odd choice over Kirby, Pokemon or Metroid. Personally I’d love to see other franchises that were in Smash – Pac Man and Mega Man (Mega Man especially!) seem like great choices – and who wouldn’t want a Pac Man track?
How to Handle New Characters and Vehicles
Aside from adding new courses, the biggest key to adding new characters is the variety of characters that fans love, but also how they affect the metagame. I loved how the first two added new characters with different weight classes than the ones you already had – and Tanooki Mario/Villager’s weight class caught on well. I’d love to see some new variants to the old weight classes, too! I’ve always said the more variety (within reason) to the metagame, the better.
The same goes for new vehicles. Much of the DLC, with few exceptions, are clones of previous vehicles. Surely there’s some room (without going to the the extreme on any one stat) for more varied parts and vehicles? There’s certainly room for clones, yes, I actually really like the variety that’s been coming for further customization. But I don’t think it should be at the expense of new parts.
While this is partially a personal request, a much wider variety of inward drifting bikes needs to be added. There are 5 inward drifting bikes, four of which are clones of each other. Can this change? Can we get a wider variety, more varied stats – perhaps a handling based one, perhaps? Seems like there’s a lot of good room to work with here, and really, in Mario Kart 8, bikes get the short of end of the stick. It’s a huge opportunity, if you ask me. The metagame is incredibly skewed towards karts anyways – the bike drifts aren’t sharp enough, despite being somewhat more intuitive, and firehopping and the wide variety of outside drifting vehicles makes bikes nearly useless.
And with focusing on what the fans love, can we please finally get Hammer Bros. and Fawful in Mario Kart already? And honestly, why haven’t we seen Bowser Jr. or Birdo in Mario Kart lately?
You know, I don’t have a lot of huge requests for new tracks, honestly. They’ve been doing a great job so far – except… one thing.
Stop with the item-fest tracks already!
Baby Park, Excitebike.. there’s no need for more of these types of tracks. The novelty is nice, I admit, but… there’s never a consistent finish or set of gameplay, and while items are a huge, huge part of the gameplay, some tracks put a frustratingly large emphasis on them. Just… stop. Stop giving us these. Most other tracks are a great balance between racing skill and item play already.
There’s actually a huge precedent for certain things for some retro tracks, too – particularly from Mario Kart Wii. There’s the bushes from Maple Treeway, curiously only in the new Animal Crossing Course. The flowing water in Animal Crossing, Wild Woods (and others!) screams Koopa Cape. And the moving belts on Rainbow Road and Big Blue are perfect for Toad’s Factory. And all are fun, great tracks. I’d love to see these return! And I can easily see Dry Dry Ruins making a return, with the new traction mechanic, or the anti-grav coming into play in the center areas, leading to a final kite area.
And as far as retro tracks are concerned, the SNES hasn’t gotten much love this generation. Can we do something about that, too?
Oh, and one more thing…
More Battle Mode Tracks
Battle mode… the forgotten part of Mario Kart 8. Nobody really knows why little to no work was put into this, and why we haven’t seen any new additions to the tracks, at all. Excitebike and Baby Park actually BELONG here. Animal Crossing, as well, while a stretch, could happen. Why didn’t we get these?
And more importantly, why have we not gotten any proper battle mode tracks at all? Frankly, it almost seems at this point Nintendo needs to put out en entire new DLC Pack just for battle mode! Many retro tracks could return, and we could see some new ones
Other MetaGame Balances
There are two major metagame balances that need to be taken into account with Mario Kart 8 – while I felt these were addressed a bit with DLC pack 1, perhaps inadvertently, but Pack 2 seems to have regressed on this a bit.
Bikes Vs. Karts
I admit fully I’m an unabashed fan of bikes. I find inside drift far more intuitive and easy to grasp. Granted, they were the obvious choice in Mario Kart Wii – but one key point of Mario Kart 8 is the outside and inside drift mechanics were supposedly fixed. Well, they’re not. In fact, they’re skewed in the opposite direction.
Karts, in a strange twist of fate, are overpowered compared to bikes now. I’d like to see a true balance, but it just doesn’t exist yet. Karts can fire hop, and the outside drift actually makes it far, far easier, especially against a bike, to pull off a back-swipe with a green shell or banana. And honestly, the inside drift just isn’t tight enough – I understand some of this was because it was extremely tight in Mario Kart Wii, but changing some of this, if even a little, could throw a far wider variety to what is seen in play, rather than just Morton, pipe frame, slick wheels.
1. Light Vs. Heavy Characters
And speaking of Morton, the game is far too balanced in favor of heavy characters. This was one thing Mario Kart Wii and especially Mario Kart 7 did far, far better than Mario Kart 8 – the weight classes were balanced. Handling mattered far, far more. Mario Kart 8 did a good job of making the hit box much more important, but unless you’re a fire-hopping large character, nobody can keep up anymore. I really don’t think it boils down completely to track design – but I do feel that the speed stat is far too emphasized over the hit box and handling, and weight. Slight stat adjustments could mean we could see more than the rare Ludwig, Larry, or Lemmy instead of Morton, Morton, and Morton.
And it’s far more conceivable that we could see other changes. Who is to say we won’t see new items, like the return of the lamentable fake item box, or the angering-beyond-words thundercloud? (Note: please do NOT bring these back!!) We could also see some interesting new game modes, but let’s face one thing: There’s both a few things that need to be fixed, and some strong outcry from fans to see certain things. Mario Kart 8 is an amazing game, and the DLC has only made it better – and there are some key opportunities to make it far, far more enjoyable beyond that, too.