Almost five months after the first wave of new races for Mario Kart 8 Deluxe released in March, the next wave came out on Aug. 4. Players can access the bonus races either by paying $24.99 or by having a Nintendo Switch Online and Expansion Pack membership, with the onetime fee giving access to the six waves of eight races each as they come out. The newest wave introduces the Turnip Cup and Propeller Cup, bringing back fan favorite races from other Mario Kart games and featuring one new exclusive track.
New York Minute (Tour): 4.25 out of 5 stars
Hailing from Mario Kart Tour, New York Minute continues the tradition of each cup in the booster course starting with a location-themed race. Following in the footsteps of Paris Promenade and Tokyo Blur, New York Minute is rather similar to these races in how its track changes each lap, creating a confusing mess of a race that perfectly captures the city of New York. Highlights include driving through Central Park and an underground party scene. While it might not be the best race ever, it is a solid and fun entry to the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe rolodex.
Mario Circuit 3 (Super): 2 out of 5 stars
Mario Circuit 3, originally from Super Mario Kart, is a race that heavily relies on nostalgia. While the race may have worked back in the 1990s when Super Mario Kart was originally released, it feels bland and played out in today’s gaming landscape. There is a simplistic charm to how the race forces you to focus on the fundamentals, but it is ultimately too easy and not visually appealing enough to be a memorable track.
Kalimari Desert (64): 3.5 out of 5 stars
While the idea of a Kalimari Desert sounds oxymoronic, as it would be impossible for squid to survive in such a barren and dry environment, the name is more likely a reference to the Kalahari Desert in Africa — with a little pun thrown in for fun. Nonetheless, Kalimari Desert is a fun and challenging race that throws many twists and turns at its racers, from trains racing at you to spiky cacti. All in all, the Kalimari Desert is an excellent race that separates itself from other desert races with the ever-looming threat of an incoming Wild West-style train.
Waluigi Pinball (DS): 5 out of 5 stars
This might be Waluigi’s first race in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, yet it manages to make up for the lack of Waluigi representation by being one of the best races in the game. From its psychedelic light show visuals to its perfectly executed pinball theme, Waluigi Pinball manages to both honor and elevate its source material from Mario Kart DS. The race makes you feel as if you are the pinball, dodging fun obstacles like the bumpers and pinballs. Races like Waluigi Pinball make the booster pass a must-buy for any Mario Kart fan.
Sydney Sprint (Tour): 2.5 out of 5 stars
As the name of the track implies, Sydney Sprint is set in the city of Sydney. However, aside from being able to drive through the Sydney Opera House, the setting of the track feels rather generic and like you could be driving through any city. The track has a similar aesthetic to Tokyo Blur from the first wave of the booster pass, as both feature a lot of highway driving. The best part of Sydney Sprint is how each lap has a different path, preventing the race from getting stale. Overall, Sydney Sprint is a disappointing race, but it does have its merits.
Snow Land (Super Circuit): 3.75 out of 5 stars
Originally from Mario Kart Super Circuit, Snow Land is a beautifully simple race. The actual track is fairly straightforward but features a beautiful winter backdrop, and there are a few hidden shortcuts for racers to discover. It is the perfect example of a basic race that is elevated by clever design choices.
Mushroom Gorge (Wii): 4.5 out of 5 stars
One of the best races from Mario Kart Wii makes its return as the penultimate race of the second wave of the booster pass. Mushroom Gorge takes racers on a tour of a beautiful valley and cave filled with dangerous mushrooms. Racers have to bounce across mushrooms to make it through parts of the race, creating a fun and difficult obstacle that keeps the race fresh no matter how many times you do it.
Sky-High Sundae: 4 out of 5 stars
The only original race so far to be created for the booster pass — Sky-High Sundae — is an electrifying race that takes racers through a “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” inspired world of giant desserts. Unlike the Kalimari Desert, which does not feature any food despite its name, Sky-High Sundae absolutely delivers upon its premise by offering tons of dessert-themed obstacles for racers to avoid and drive over.
All in all, the second wave of the booster pass is an excellent addition to the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe collection of races and surpasses the first wave with a better holistic compilation of races. There are really only two races that are duds, Mario Circuit 3 and Sydney Sprint, with the rest being a lot of fun. Once again, the booster pass has proven itself to be a worthy and necessary addition to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
Overall Rating: 4.25 out of 5 stars