Which of the new tracks or 200cc did I try out first, you may ask? Well, I'm not quite as insane as those who did both at the same time, but I went for 200cc Mushroom Cup first. And, well, the verdict is quite clear. I haven't touched that button since the days of SNES 150cc. (Seriously, if you've never tried that, they toned down 150cc significantly from MK64 onwards, and this newfangled 200cc is the closest we'll ever have to that.) Still, it was Mushroom Cup, where you can take most curves without braking (you can even do Water Park with the foot on the gas the whole time), so I won three of the races and finished sixth in the other (Not Sweet Mountain, No Really It's Not) because of a blue shell. At least THAT's consistent. After trying out the new tracks I went back and three-starred the whole thing. I'm honestly not expecting to do that with every cup, and if I do it'll be after loads of practice trying to find out where to brake and where I can go through without it.
As for the new tracks (which I tried in 150cc)... funny how one of the best tracks in the entire series is a simple oval. Baby Park is just as hectic as ever, despite the fence in the middle of the track. While this makes it lose some of its uniqueness as far as items being able to go where players can't goes, they might have put it there because it would be straight-up abusive otherwise. With new items like fire flowers and such, and four extra racers compared to Double Dash and MKDS, it's still absolutely crazy. Did I mention the whole thing's anti-gravity? The whole thing's anti-gravity.
Funnily enough, this is the only track I was familiar with, because Super Circuit and MK7 are the only two I've never played, and the other three retro tracks are from these games. Then again, one can easily argue Cheese Land and Ribbon Road are entirely new tracks, because they have nothing, NOTHING to do with their Super Circuit versions. There was a pretty good reason why we only had one Super Circuit track so far in this game - the game sucked beyond all comprehension, and the tracks were boring and bland. But Nintendo took up the challenge of making them interesting, and by golly they succeeded. Sure, Ribbon Road is a pretty easy track, but aesthetically it's still such an improvement. Cheese Land is a bit more challenging, though. Those Chain Chomps (yes, there are CHAIN CHOMPS in CHEESE LAND now) can bite you in the ass at the worst moment, and my first attempt at this track was absolutely embarrassing, finishing 11th because I ended up in limbo between a fence and the cliff... TWICE. Whereas no other human being will ever set so much as a tire in that area. Remember in my SMB3 LP when I fell down the most harmless, out-of-the-way pit in the entire game? Yeah, that's how I felt.
Neo Bowser City was also a new experience for me, and it just so happens to be one of those tracks where traction can actually do a lot for you (and guess who runs very low traction?). What elevates it above stuff like Sherbet Land or Dolphin Shoals, though, is that sequence of three back-to-back hairpins. The third hairpin has NO WALLS on the outside, and it's incredibly tight, meaning that if you run low traction you're going to need a lot of practice to get through without falling. It's doable, mind you (at least at 1.75 - God help you if you run an inward drifter AND slick tires), you just have to be perfect. I think the key is to let go of your mini-turbo as early as possible when coming out of the second hairpin, so you don't go at the speed of light going into the third. It's hard and it needs practice, but I wanted to chuck my controller at Bone-Dry Dunes when I first got the game, and it's one of my best tracks now. Practice, practice, practice.
The new tracks are pretty dang good, too. Wild Woods is unremarkable in terms of difficulty, but not everything needs to be N64 Toad's Turnpike mirror mode, right? As it is it's a visually pleasing, high-speed breather before Animal Crossing. As mentioned before, there are four variations. I got to play the summer and winter ones so far, and clearly winter is one of those traction-reliant tracks too. Summer is a lot, and I mean a LOT more manageable. I've never played an Animal Crossing game in my life, so all those neat references are lost on me. Alas.
Super Bell Subway kind of feels like a mix between Toad's Turnpike and Wario's Gold Mine - moreso the latter, because there's no huge traffic or anything. There are two subways in the whole place, tops. When you do meet one, though, you have to be extra careful, because sometimes there won't be much room between off-course on one side and the subway on the other. Finally, Big Blue is the final track in the game, so they had to make something grand. And they sure stepped up to the plate! It's just like Mt. Wario and N64 Rainbow Road where it's just one lap across a long track. Whereas Mute City featured an overabundance of speed boosts, Big Blue gives us a few areas that are faster on the outside, but slower on the inside (think Toad's Factory in MKWii), as well as areas with flowing water that boosts your speed if you stay within it. Overall a very memorable track that tops off a very memorable game. As a whole, Nintendo did a stellar job with the tracks' designs in this game, both new and old. Mario Kart 8 will definitely be a tough act to follow, and they'll need the few years until the next installment to think of ways to surpass it.
(By the way, I three-starred both of the new cups in 150cc after a few attempts, as well as 200cc Mushroom Cup on my second try.)
(Oh, right, I almost forgot. Dry Bowser is a super heavyweight. No big surprise. What IS a surprise, though, is that the male and female Villager have different stats, effectively making them two separate characters. They have the same stats as Tanooki Mario and Cat Peach, respectively.)