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.