The latest update to the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe DLC brought with it a big surprise: the returning character of Birdo! I genuinely couldn’t care less about Birdo, to be honest with you; I didn’t like her in Super Mario Bros. 2 and I’ve never been fussed about having her as a playable character in Mario Kart, either. But that’s beside the point!
The Booster Course Pass has updated the game’s character roster, and in addition to Birdo there are now five mystery characters who will presumably be added later this year. On this occasion, I thought it could be fun to make a few educated guesses about who these mystery characters might be… as well as pick five of my own that I’d add if I had the option!
If you read my review of the Booster Course Pass last year, you’ll know that I think it’s been a decent addition to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe… but it isn’t anywhere near as much fun as a new game would’ve been. The addition of new characters, however, certainly has added an extra element to the game – and as the original version of Mario Kart 8 was released almost a decade ago, that was sorely needed!
I’m breaking this list into two parts. The first part will be characters that I consider likely additions, based on their appearances in Mario Kart Tour – a game that the Booster Course Pass is heavily borrowing from. The second part will be my “fantasy” picks. I’m sticking to five characters in each half of the list – because there are currently only five vacant character slots.
Let’s jump into the list!
Part 1: Mario Kart Tour characters
With only one exception, all of the racetracks added in the Booster Course Pass so far appeared first in Mario Kart Tour. The character of Birdo, who was a surprise addition in the latest update, also appeared in Tour before joining the roster. So in my view, characters who are already part of Mario Kart Tour are far more likely to join Mario Kart 8 Deluxe than anyone else!
With that in mind, here are five of my favourite contenders.
Tour character #1:
King Bob-Omb first appeared in Super Mario 64, and his turn in the driver’s seat in Mario Kart Tour is the first time he’s appeared in the series. It was also his first time as a playable character, having been a boss or enemy in a number of Mario spin-off titles. King Bob-Omb is a heavy character who could join the likes of Bowser and Wario in that category, and as a villain, he could be a lot of fun to race with.
Tour character #2:
Kamek was originally intended to be a playable character in Mario Kart 64, even appearing in the game’s demo version and in some promotional material released by Nintendo. For unknown reasons, Kamek was subbed out for Donkey Kong before the game’s final release – and that was probably the right call! A quarter of a century later, Kamek made their first appearance as a playable character in Mario Kart Tour, and I think they’ve gotta be in contention to join the main game!
Tour character #3:
Diddy Kong was a playable character in two previous Mario Kart titles: Double Dash and Wii. On the Nintendo 64, Diddy even had his own game: Diddy Kong Racing, which was a fun multi-vehicle arcade racing title. It’s a surprise in some ways that Diddy Kong hasn’t appeared in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, especially as the Switch port added a lot more characters than the Wii U original. Diddy Kong feels like a strong candidate to add to the game!
Tour character #4:
Because Mario Kart 8 was made years before Super Mario Odyssey, none of the characters from that game made an appearance. But with Odyssey proving so popular – and selling so well – it makes a lot of sense for characters like Pauline to cross over. Cappy is also a great candidate, but Pauline could join Peach, Daisy, and Rosalina to give players another female racer to choose. Pauline originally appeared in 1981’s Donkey Kong – making her one of the original characters in the Mario series.
Tour character #5:
This one is a bit of a wish, to be honest! But back in the SNES days, DK Junior was one of my favourite characters to race with when I played Super Mario Kart. His return in Tour is the first time the character has been seen since. It could be a blast to bring him back, especially as Super Mario Kart has recently celebrated its thirtieth anniversary.
Part 2: My Picks
There are a whole host of Nintendo and Nintendo-adjacent characters that I can think of who’d be a ton of fun to play as in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe! The game has already expanded beyond the world of Super Mario, bringing in characters from the Zelda, Splatoon, and Animal Crossing franchises. So there’s plenty of scope to cast an even wider net!
These characters are less likely to appear than those above – but if I had my way, all five of them would join the party!
Sonic the Hedgehog
Ever since Sega’s unceremonious exit from the console wars shortly after the turn of the millennium, Sonic has teamed up with his old mascot rival Mario on more than one occasion. As strange as it was to see these two long-time adversaries working together, they make a great pair! Although Sega has its own racing games, several of which feature Sonic, perhaps the time has finally come to have Sonic line up alongside Mario in the definitive kart racing series.
Minecraft is the best-selling video game of all time, and has sold more than 3.5 million copies on the Nintendo Switch alone. Steve – Minecraft’s iconic default player character – would be a fun and unexpected addition to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. He’d be no more out-of-place than the likes of Link, and it could be a really fun way to bring two gaming powerhouses together!
Joining Isabelle and the Villager from the Animal Crossing series could be extreme venture-capitalist Tom Nook! Tom Nook was a lesser part of Animal Crossing: New Leaf – the Nintendo 3DS title upon which Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s Animal Crossing inclusions are based – but he went on to play a much larger role in New Horizons. As the second-best selling Nintendo Switch title of all time (despite being unfinished and offering less to do than its predecessor) it would make a lot of sense for Nintendo to take advantage of New Horizons!
Fox McCloud (Star Fox)
I absolutely adored Star Fox on the Super Nintendo – though the franchise now feels like one that Nintendo has put on the back burner. With 2023 being the franchise’s thirtieth anniversary, bringing Fox McCloud into Mario Kart 8 Deluxe could be a great way to celebrate! Nintendo could do more with the Star Fox series, and I’m surprised that no new game has been forthcoming on the Switch.
The Doom series has a history on Nintendo devices, and there was even an exclusive: Doom 64 was only available on the Nintendo 64 (until a recent port brought it to PC, that is!) Doom and Nintendo also had an unexpected team-up in 2020, when the launches of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal coincided, leading to some fun collaborations. Doom is also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and it could be a blast (pun intended) to bring a character like Doom Guy into a totally different kind of game!
So that’s it!
I hope this was a bit of fun as we look ahead to some of the characters who may (or may not) be joining the roster of drivers in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It now seems all but certain that there won’t be another Mario Kart game until the Switch’s successor console is launched, and while that’s a disappointment in more ways than one, the Booster Course Pass has at least convinced me to dust off my Switch and jump back into the game. Adding new racetracks has certainly padded out Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and extended its playable lifespan, and new characters will do the same.
Who would you choose to add to the lineup? There must be hundreds of Nintendo and non-Nintendo characters that could make for fun or interesting inclusions in a future Mario Kart title, so we’ve only scratched the surface today! Still, I hope it was interesting to consider who might line up on the grid!
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the Booster Course Pass are out now for Nintendo Switch. The Booster Course Pass will add more racetracks and characters in two more “waves” across 2023. The Mario Kart series – including all titles discussed above – is the copyright of Nintendo. Some screenshots courtesy of the Super Mario Wiki. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.