Last month came the news that Nintendo would be bringing some free DLC to Japanese Mario Kart 8 customers. The DLC comes in the form of a new Mercedes-branded kart. As was speculated at the time the DLC is no longer a Japanese-only release. Nintendo has confirmed that he kart will also be made available in North America and Europe this summer.
The downloadable content seems little more than glorified advertising for Mercedes and their GLA-Class car. That comes as no real surprise given the GLA is being heavily pushed in Japan through an advertising campaign that features several tie-ins with Nintendo.
Mario Kart 8 is hardly the first game to feature product placement and real world brands, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Mountain Dew ring any bells? It’s something that has been done many times before. However, the introduction of real-life brands into games like Mario Kart does feel very bizarre. There is just something that doesn’t quite sit right about this wonderful escapist world they’ve created being populated by admittedly Mario-ified versions of real world products.
Still, despite my cynicism regarding the motives behind this move, it is still a nice addition for anyone who has ever dreamt of speeding around Rainbow Road in a Mercedes. Odd dream. I know, but nevertheless I’m sure most gamers won’t turn their noses up at a free piece of impactless DLC.
The GLA-Class kart will be powering its way to Wii U consoles in North America, Europe and Japan free of charge sometime later this summer. As of yet there are no specific release dates confirmed for any of the regions. With the aim of a summer release it should be expected that the North American and European versions will drop alongside or soon after the Japanese release.