Play or Pass: Mario Kart 8

Welcome to the next post in my year-long series “Play or Pass” that takes on the proverbial “must before death” theme with video games. Every other week I will be covering one or two games from “32 Video Games You Have To Play Before You Die,” a list compiled by BuzzFeed based on a reader poll. I will not be critiquing the list itself, but rather I’ll be discussing each game or games in whatever manner feels fitting and will attempt to answer a couple simple questions: Have I played [insert game name here]? If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why? If no, do I want to play the game before I die? I’ll be going through the games in the order in which they appear on the BuzzFeed list. Good? Good. Let’s get on with the games!

Week seventeen: (22) Mario Kart 8


Generally speaking, I am an adult who is no longer afraid of being picked on, particularly when it comes to games. I like the games I like and I dislike the games I don’t. I am more than happy when I find other gamers who share opinions similar to mine, and I’m more than happy to ignore the haters were hate for the sake of hate. I personally do not give a single, solitary fuck about whatever negative things one might think of my gaming habits, favorite titles, guilty pleasure, or otherwise. If someone would like to call me names and pull my hair, fine. If I feel like fighting back, I will. If I don’t, then please be miserable elsewhere.

That said, I am downright embarrassed, and even slightly ashamed, to admit that…


…holy crap I can barely manage the words…


…I have never played a Mario Kart game. Not the first one. Not the middle one. And not the most recent game, Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U.

But here’s the kicker. As much as it might hurt my soul to admit this to 0.00000001% of the Internet, I kinda don’t care. Because, see, I kinda just don’t…get…Mario Kart.

The issue I have with Mario Kart is similar to that of Super Smash Bros. (Though I have played Melee, at least a little.) It’s like, if I want to play a racing game, then  I’ll play a real racing game. One that doesn’t involve go-karts and blue shells. It’s the same with SSB. If I want to play a fighting game, I want to play a real fighting game.

Okay, look, I am all too aware of just how douchey that sounds. I could swear up and down that holding so strongly such biases isn’t in my nature, but I know what I like. And, right now, Mario Kart just isn’t in that sphere. And it’s not that I don’t understand the appeal of the game or how amazingly popular it is…I do on both counts. I have readily witnessed the rise of the franchise from it’s humble beginning on the Super Nintendo to the financial and social cavalcade that it is today. Frankly, Mario Kart’s soaring popularity is nothing short of brilliant, as it seems that the game has only improved over the years and has not fallen victim to problems that can plague longstanding franchises.

I certainly remember, and maybe you do too, the flurry of activity that surrounded the game’s release in 2014. (My big question then was why did Nintendo wait so long on it? Can you imagine if it had been a day-one game for the Wii U?? That very well could have steered the poor console in a very different direction.) Mario Kart 8 was the ONE game that you totally had to get if you had a Wii U that summer. And I guess everyone who had one bought it and apparently enjoyed the hell out of it.

So given that I have no history with Mario Kart, and I’m not really interested in building a future with it, where does that leave this “Play or Pass” entry? Because for me, personally, it’s not a “must.” So my “Play or Pass” questions could look like:

Have I played Mario Kart 8?

If yes, do I consider it a “must” and why?

If no, do I want to play the game before I die?

And that should be perfectly acceptable. But, my perpetually guilty conscience is making me think that I’m being far too stubborn. That not playing the game, and professing that I don’t ever want to play the game, is me just hating for the sake of hate. (See, what goes around, comes around, even in a blog post.) I don’t want to be that guy, so…help me. Help me understand why Mario Kart (the 8th installment or your favorite) is a “must.” Help me understand why I should want to play Mario Kart. Because millions of fans can’t be wrong.



  1. I’m sort of on the opposite end from you when it comes to Mario Kart (and even smash bros for that matter). I’ve played every entry over the years and am just comfortable with it I suppose. I love the frenetic pace of each race along with the sheer unpredictability! It’s chaotic, but that’s what makes it fun. It’s kind of an exception for me in that I traditionally dislike racing games, but I love the mario kart series. It’s really the only one I’ve ever really wanted to play. (Same goes for smash bros too oddly enough 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

    • I certainly get the appeal of something fun and fast-paced! And that’s part off the reason these games never appealed to me — I like that, generally, fighting and racing games give players moments to plan their moves. Of course, it’s not like you have time in the games to formulate in depth strategies, but it seems like Mario Kart and SSB just want players to go, go, GO! without even thinking about it.

      But, as I said, I’m probably just being terribly prejudice for no reason. I replied to another commenter that I’m willing to make an attempt to get into the series with Mario Kart 64. I’d like to make good on that, at least. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can see why frantic-ness of Mario Kart and its ilk could potentially be unappealing. They definitely don’t allow for growth in skill the way other, more serious, games do.

        They’re more of the ‘party-game’ version of racers and fighters. Not that fun if you don’t really find party games fun. That said, if you’re going to give Mario Kart a shot, I recommend playing with a friend. It’s much better when you’re actually racing against a real person.


  2. Echoing the above comments, Mario Kart 8 is definitely one of the best in what is a great party racing series. I’m not the biggest fan of regular racing games, but I love kart-racing games because of its fun atmosphere and use of items to change the flow. I love all the references in each course, and Mario Kart 8’s design is filled with plenty of fun nods to the Mario series. It’s also incredibly polished and fun to play both with friends and online. Offline is fun too when trying to unlock characters or beat Grand Prix mode, but this game shines in multiplayer. Unfortunately, there is no battle mode, but if you’d like to try that excellent part of Mario Kart series history, then I recommend Mario Kart 64, which had both great battle and race modes. It’s definitely worth a try since you haven’t experienced the series yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Okay, you’ve got a deal there with Mario Kart 64, because I did actually play it way back when. (For a few hours, anyway. Long story short, I rented it, and the game died after just a couple races. Brought it back to the store and never played it again.) I have read that it’s one of the best titles in the series, outside of Mario Kart 8, that is.

      Come to think of it, maybe Mario Kart is the racing game I *need* just because it’s fast, light, and fun. As much as I enjoy my “real” racing games, I tend to get too easily tense and frustrated with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As someone who has played all Mario Kart installments, I say this is easily the best one in the series, so I guess you should at least give it a try.

    Strangely, my reasoning is opposite to yours when it comes to racing and fighting titles. Mario Kart and Smash Bros are my favorite games from those genres because “real” racing and fighting experiences just bore me. =P

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no, I get it! 🙂 I totally get the appeal of what Nintendo did with the racing and fighting genres. They really put a unique spin on them, and both games have brought in tons of players who probably wouldn’t have looked twice at Mortal Kombat or Gran Turismo. I will have to see if I can get my hands on Mario Kart 8. If nothing else, it’ll help me understand whatever is the big deal about blue shells!

      Liked by 1 person

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