Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rank Up! - Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Battle Arenas

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe launched on Nintendo Switch at the end of April. It's been the go-to multiplayer game for many Switch owners since then. One of the newest additions to the game is an expanded and completely retooled Battle Mode, offering actual arenas instead of retrofitted tracks. Ahead of SuperPhillip Central's Mario Kart 8 Deluxe review this Friday (also the site's 750th review), I'm ranking the eight battle tracks from least favorite to personal favorite. For those uninitiated, here are the battle arenas being ranked:

Battle Stadium
Sweet Sweet Kingdom
Dragon Palace
Lunar Colony
3DS Wuhu Town
GCN Luigi's Mansion
SNES Battle Course 4
Urchin Underpass

Now let's rank these battle arenas!

8) Urchin Underpass


I love all the battle maps and arenas found in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's enhanced Battle Mode, so even though Urchin Underpass from Splatoon is rated as the lowest on this list, it's still a fantastic arena-- I just like enjoy it the least. Part of this is how I found it the least accessible arena to beginners, with all of its ramps, points to slow players down, and intricate turns and corners to slip new and inexperienced players up. It can also be a slightly confusing map itself, but once you learn its intricacies, Urchin Underpass is a colorful and entertaining battle arena worthy of both the Splatoon and Mario Kart names.

7) Lunar Colony


The low gravity goodness of Lunar Colony makes for some terriffic battles in the central crater and areas surrounding in this fun but simple arena. Without the low gravity and extra jumping awesomeness found in Lunar Colony, this would be a very simple map without much to boast about. Still, the main gameplay gimmick here makes Lunar Colony more than worthwhile, and circling around the outer loop to avoid attacks is a good deal of fun, making this a fun and enjoyable arena to battle on, no matter the mode.

6) SNES Battle Course 1


Speaking of simple arenas, sometimes the simplest of maps are the most fun. Well, not in this case, but SNES Battle Course 1, a battle arena from the very first Mario Kart from the Super Nintendo, is more than a blast to battle on. It has the most basic design with its symmetrical design and mostly flat surface, but it's absolutely fantastic in all modes. My personal favorite is Renegade Round-Up, where the jail cell is always in the very middle of the map. Braving a breakout by driving through a cop-infested central area to save your fellow renegades is always a good time. Add in some gliding opportunities at two sides of the arena, and you have a return to SNES Battle Course 1 that is a great one.

5) Sweet Sweet Kingdom


Despite being on the small side, Sweet Sweet Kingdom is a battle arena that wants to take your attention away from battle through its sugar-coated castles, doughnut hole gateways, and other delectable delights. Try not to get diabetes from merely racing in this arena! It has plenty of small loops around its front, back, and even one of its sides, but the real action takes place in its central area. It's definitely hard to find space to run away from foes, but simultaneously it makes it so opponents have a hard time in running away from you.

4) Battle Stadium


Part figure-eight, part central piece of arena that serves as a doughnut, perfect for dropping down on the figure-eight piece of arena, Battle Stadium is true to its name. It's all about the battling and less about pulling off impressive tricks and driving maneuvers. This is the Battle Mode, after all. Save your long mini-turbos for getting three stars on 200cc Grand Prix races, dear friends! One end of Battle Stadium features a gigantic statue of Mario while the other on the opposite end has none other than Mario's main rival, the big, bad Bowser. The aforementioned in-your-face focus on battling (I mean, heck, it's in the arena's name!) makes Battle Stadium one of my favorite places to unwind, unload, and do everything but accept defeat.

3) GCN Luigi's Mansion


Three different tiers are the highlight of GCN Luigi's Mansion, a relic from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! from the GameCube. The main floor is an open rectangular area with some columns, perfect for some epic shell showdowns or other item encounter. Meanwhile, three ways lead to the lower level, where a narrow stretch of map is connected to the main floor. Finally, the rain-drenched top floor offers a sunroof where battlers can unleash shells and other items from the top to the open main floor without worrying about comeuppance from those on the main floor. GCN Luigi's Mansion is a haunted and hectic house where battles are always a massive good time.

2) Dragon Palace


Based off of the Dragon Driftway track in the Egg Cup of the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Grand Prix, Dragon Palace is essentially two major areas connected together. The first is an outdoor courtyard where the main attraction is two facing dragon statues: one gold, one silver. Connecting that to the second major area, the eponymous palace, are two ramps and a line of paper doors that can be crashed through. This palace area is an expansive circular room where opponents can unleash heck upon each other as they risk taking hits from rushing through and picking up items from the boxes that litter the center. The Asian flair is most definitely present which makes for a nice aesthetic, while the basic structure of Dragon Place makes for a battle arena that never fails to bring me joy when battling in it.

1) 3DS Wuhu Town


Coincidentally enough, 3DS Wuhu Town was my favorite battle arena within Mario Kart 7, though that version took place at night instead of daytime proper. Wuhu Island's top residential and commercial district features a healthy host of side streets to speed through, special paths to take, corners to drift around, and a central plaza containing a fountain as well as being overlooked by the Wuhu Town gate. From the basketball court on its furthest south to the hill on its furthest north, I don't think any other battle arena has as much environmental variety than 3DS Wuhu Town. Add in the fact that I'm an absolutely sucker for city-based and town-based arenas and tracks (such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe's own Toad Harbor or Mario Kart DS's Delfino Square), and you have a battle map in 3DS Wuhu Town that is must as my number one pick for favorite Mario Kart 8 Deluxe battle arena.

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