As much fun as playing Mario Kart 8 still remains to be, overall I kind of feel like the track selection is a bit… meh. I mean there are some really good ones in there but I can’t help thinking that there’s been better Rainbow Roads and Bowser’s Castles and desert tracks in past entries. It’s not that any of them are really bad tracks, just there’s a lot of meh, meaning picking the worst two out of the bunch has been somewhat difficult… Nevertheless two had to stand out from the rest.
Worst #1 – Sweet Sweet Canyon
Sweet Sweet Canyon is a really cool idea for a stage. You’ve got the chocolate donuts acting as arches, wafer windmills in the backgrounds, a cake with cascading cola waterfalls to dive into and Refresher like course ways that split the track in two; ascetically this stage is really cool. Only none of the sweets really affect the way the race goes. What we get instead is another ordinary race track which, after competing in Mario Kart Stadium and Water Park in the Mushroom Cup really isn’t appreciated. It’s understandable to keep the first cups tracks relatively simple but Sweet Sweet Canyon is yet another track to trudge through before we actually get to something interesting in Thwomp Ruins. But this isn’t wholly why I have written it as one of the worst. It is also because this is the first time Nintendo has used the sweets theme in a race track over a battle arena and the sweets don’t really affect the track at all. Racing through Cola is no different from racing in water, there are no cream splatters on the screen similar to Tart Top in Mario Kart DS and really the only effects the sweets have on the race is that chocolate slows a racer down similar to grass. Sweet Sweet Canyon comes out as one of the worst because its design promises so much and ultimately it’s just another simple racetrack to make up what becomes an overly simple cup experience.
Worst #2 – Dolphin Shoals
Oh the curse of underwater levels in video games. Gamers for decades have always thought of underwater levels as gruelling experiences but thankfully in Mario Kart 8 racing underwater isn’t too different from racing on land. However this doesn’t much help Dolphin Shoals out. The issue with this track largely falls into similar territory Sweet Sweet Canyon does in that there’s a design here that could have been so much more interesting. I’m mainly talking about the middle section of the track, where the cave spreads out with many pipes throwing jet streams helping racers over the bottomless pit below, followed by a ride atop a giant eel. There are so many different routes to take in this section but ultimately it doesn’t seem there’s any reward for taking any particular route over another. There’s no difficult route that gets us over the ravine quicker or an easy route when wanting to play it safe. All the routes are generally the same in this respect. This leads directly to the eel which is placed too soon after this bottomless pit area. It feels the track is trying to be too hectic and therefore there’s not really any room to make places until you’re finally out of the water once and for all. This makes it a frustrating track especially when it ends so well with two fantastic corners. If there were a more risk for reward element to this track it’d come out as much more enjoyable but as it stands it feels as if the entire middle section of the track is a mess that is best forgotten about despite the dramatic motifs inside.
That’s it for the worst new tracks in Mario Kart 8. Check in at the end of the week for which track is the most unique. If you missed the best new tracks in the game then check here now.