Very fun map pack with support for the bot addon! Since it's the last update of the year, I think it's fitting that I write my thoughts on it!
Note: I have only played these maps offline with the bot addon and haven't encountered them online, so I have no idea how the balance is with real players. (Only seen Polychrome online in the map roulette, but the selection randomizer didn't pick it)
Anyhow, here's a quick thought overview on the maps themselves:
Virtua Circuit Zone (5/5): one of my favorite maps from the pack. The music choice is very catchy and really fits the fast-pace this map has. I have no real complaints about this one. Mine trapping is fun here.
Snowdust Valley Zone (4.5/5): also a fun track. Nice music and doesn't have annoying slippery sections like some certain other ice-themed maps. The floating section is hard to drift off of if you don't know the angle to keep a straight line. Not sure if its the fastest route save the right side, but it feels good nonetheless.
Somehow its possible to fly into the part where the green Sonic statue is too and get stuck. I forgot how it happened, but I encountered it in a play session only once. Perhaps its fixed in 1.6 though.
Mount Acres Circuit Short (4/5): I won't lie. It's my least favorite map of all the maps in this pack. I don't hate it by any means, but it feels the most underwhelming when compared to the others.
Ridge Turnpike (5/5): also one of my favorites like many others it seems. Short, 5 lap track that's chaotic and fast with good music. Mine trapping feels pretty deadly here as there are a lot of blind spots when turning tight since you can't see them sometimes ahead of time (doesn't bother me, but I can see why it would others).
Polychrome Polygon Zone (4.5/5): It took me a while to get warmed up to this track. Initially, I didn't like it too much since it kinda suffers from depth perception at the ramp segment towards the end. Can't count how many times I fell off because of the weird angle when you finally can see the surface before the speed ramp at first. I like it now though. The visuals are something else.
Tricolored Space Zone (5/5): visually reminded me of MK64's Block Fort map, which really made me like it even more, coupled with abstract scenery and Sonic CD music? Amazing. Tricky side ramps at the beginning (which 1.6 seems to have improved on and made it more visually accessible) and now the blue drop off section has springs and a gap. Still getting used to the 1.6 remake of this section, but this is still one of my favorite tracks to race on in this pack.
VR Big Forest (4.5/5): From my bot experiences, you'd think a track with a simplistic layout wouldn't be too chaotic, but boy, it's anything but that. It's even more chaotic than Ridge Turnpike and Tricolored Space Zone. I never fail to get karted hard here (it's fun tbh). Only problem I have with this track is that the left section where the finish line feels entirely useless since it has no boost pad and by the time you exit it, there's another set of item boxes ~1.5 sec away. My suggestion is to maybe axe the boost in the right path and add it to the left to where its a bit like MK8's Mario Circuit's right section so those coming off of a shoe+rocket boost/invinc can still take the cut that puts them on the right side of the track and those who aren't can take the left side and get a boost or boost+item. Just my opinion. Maybe others don't agree and there's something I'm missing.
Dynamite Wilderness Zone (?/5): I need some more time with this track, but my first impression (and the few races I've done on this track) is that it feels like a longer version of Turnpike Ridge and oddly enough, 5 laps. Perhaps 4 would be best? It feels very good to race on for a turn-base character. Since I get some type of skatepark vibe from it, having small ramps on the ground would be fun if using the acrobatics mod (could drift on them otherwise if no servers have the acrobats mod or offline with no gameplay mods). I like it.
I won't review the hell map since it didn't have bot support from last time I tried (and I never saw it online).
Sorry for the very long review. I had a lot of fun with this map pack, and will continue having a lot of fun on these maps!
ArcadePak is a (relatively) underused pack that has gotten some love recently and rightfully so. This pack has a bit of everything in it, but the mapper's best results shine in the use of flat colors for the maps, giving them a "geometrical" aspect that no other pack really has.
The pack (as of 1.5b) has 7 maps and 1 hell map. My personal favorite is Polychrome Polygon Zone, a map that fully uses flat colors into an abstract setting, and while the layout is simple, it makes for really fun races. Another big one that I like is the Virtua Racing port of Big Forest. It's a map known for being extremely simple, yet it's full of item boxes (way more than the average) but the simplicity of the course makes it fun so you're more focused on item play rather than track difficulty.
What's generally agreed upon is that some of these maps tend to be tight and short, with counted exceptions. A few maps can feel claustrophobic (intentionally so) or simply take the colors a bit too much on the clashing side for some people. That said, there's enough variety and there's an active effort recently to fix all bugs and imperfections the pack has, even today!
All in all, this is a map pack with potential. I want to see more of what can be done with the unique map style and new layouts. (And also Mount Acres Long, which one day shall be revived >:]) I recommend it to anyone looking for tighter courses and fun with items!