With over 13 million units sold worldwide between the Wii U and Switch versions, Mario Kart 8 is Nintendo’s most commercially successful console game since the Wii era. And it’s little wonder why. Mario Kart is always a top-seller, but Mario Kart 8 is something special. Its core gameplay is so satisfying and finely-tuned that it flirts with perfection, and its audio and visuals rival Nintendo’s best work. And when the Wii U version’s downloadable content came bundled in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (in addition to a battle mode!), the result was arguably the most critically acclaimed Mario Kart of all time and the greatest racing game of the generation. In this continuing feature, I will be examining Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s courses cup-by-cup, evaluating the ups and downs of each course. In this entry, I will be looking at the Egg Cup.
Unlike previous cups, the Egg Cup is a new addition to the Mario Kart franchise. Originally released as the first half of The Legend of Zelda X Mario Kart 8 DLC pack for Mario Kart 8, it comes bundled and unlocked in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Perhaps as an attempt to address varying skill levels, Egg Cup’s tracks vary in difficulty more than any previous cup. This, along with it making its first appearance, makes it tricky to decipher what differentiates the Egg Cup from the rest of the tracks. However, it is worth mentioning it is the only cup to lack a glider portion and it relies heavily on references to non-Mario Nintendo games.
The Egg Cup’s first track is Yoshi Circuit, a flat Mario Circuit-like whose layout traces an outline of Yoshi. Originally appearing in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and subsequently in Mario Kart DS, Yoshi Circuit makes its third foray into the series in Mario Kart 8. While the basic layout of the course is kept mostly the same, Mario Kart 8’s variant pairs the sharp turns of the original with the shortcuts of the DS track. Combined with additional aesthetic refinements, this is arguably the most thoroughly realized manifestation of the track so far, even if its world is a bit generic and incongruous. That said, the tricky twists near the back of Yoshi’s head and tail make for a strangely finicky and slow-going choice to start the Egg Cup, especially given the subsequent track’s drop in difficulty. Though a decent course on its own, Yoshi Circuit is an inelegant choice for a starting course, shoehorned in to justify the Egg Cup’s name and art, which it takes from Yoshi’s canonical eggs.
Yoshi Circuit is followed by Excitebike Arena, an elongated oval in the visual vein of the NES classic Excitebike. Excitebike Arena’s main draw is its modular design. While the track layout is as simple as it gets, the course’s hazards and ramps spawn randomly for over 200 unique possibilities. In this regard, Excitebike Arena should be the most evergreen course in the game, providing a thrilling new combination of components that alter the play experience each time, forcing players to respond on sight to unique layouts. In practice, the significant distance between these elements and the lack of impact they ultimately have on the outcome means skilled players might find the course boring due to its simple shape and ineffective hazards making the course more straightforward than it bills itself. Still, it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane and a clever concept that can be more intricately iterated on in the future.
Loosely based on the Gobblegut boss of Super Mario Galaxy 2, Dragon Driftway is a serpentine path along a reptilian Nintendo character vaguely similar to Yoshi’s Circuit. However, here the track layout is not constrained by the outline of the character, instead using a dragon’s tortuous body as the track itself. Combined with beautiful artwork, specialized sound effects, and a Chinese culture theme, Dragon Driftway is a tricky but distinct track with a stronger sense of self than Yoshi’s Circuit. The layout’s reference to the tail-eating Ouroboros is a clever touch that slyly underscores the frivolous nature of a game ultimately about driving in circles.
Finally, the F-Zero-themed Mute City brings the Egg Cup to a climactic close. Among the game’s most successful integrations of theme with course layout, Mute City thoroughly adapts F-Zero for Mario Kart by altering nearly every aspect of series standards, from more realistic futurist aesthetic, to changing boost pads and the starting countdown, to liberally scattering boosts to ensure consistently breakneck speed, to featuring the F-Zero’s trademark dilemma between recovering health (this time collecting coins) or boosting. When all is said and done, Mute City plays as much like an especially accessible F-Zero as it does an especially speed-centric Mario Kart, a testament to the fine balance the course manages to strike.
As a whole, the Egg Cup is a fantastic start to the “DLC courses” that fully embodies the spirit of what made that DLC so special. By incorporating a past Mario Kart course, two based on classic Nintendo racing franchises, and a wholly inventive new one, the Egg Cup addresses Nintendo diehards while crafting a totally unique experience for all players. Though the difficulty curve might not be a traditional upward ramp and not every course is as well executed as it is conceived, the Egg Cup succeeds as a singular collection of courses that stretch Mario Kart 8’s boundaries while remaining a fine-tuned and hugely varied racing experience.
Check out analyses of other Mario Kart 8 Deluxe courses, as well as courses from Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Odyssey, here.