Wannabe Writer’s Note: This first impressions article was originally posted on my old website on June 10th, 2017. I recently finished everything I wanted to do in the game and plan to write a review here very soon, eh. Enjoy my past self’s unedited ramblings!
All the cool kids who are lucky enough to own a Switch seem to playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe lately. I didn’t want to feel left behind, as usual, so I decided to pick up a copy a few weeks ago. I completely missed out on the Wii U version, making this title a brand spanking new experience for me. I must say that it has been ages since I played a racing game. I’ve spent hundreds of blissful childhood hours dominating the beautiful tracks of Diddy Kong Racing, but I’m a cranky old woman with slow reflexes now. What I’m getting at here is that I suck, but it’s so much fun! This is the perfect game to play alongside Horizon Zero Dawn. When I need a break from robot animal controlled Earth, I can relax by getting Blue-shelled into last place by another game’s evil AI.
A nod to those special characters
As one of the 13 people on the whole wide web that doesn’t hate Lightning Farron, it is my sacred duty to honor the pink haired warrior goddess as often as possible. I’m powerless to stop the toxic hatred I frequently see for my all-time favourite character, but I can at least show her the love she deserves, while trying my best to ignore the legions of ignorant trolls. You better believe that if there’s any way to spark some Lightning in my games, I’ll find it. My fem Robin had pink hair in Fire Emblem Awakening, I named my first horse Odin in Breath of the Wild, and I bestowed Lightning’s likeness upon my Switch Mii.
Creating Lightning Mii had an unintended (but totally awesome) side effect in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Well you see, there’s this option to race as your Mii… That’s right! I can play as Lightning in Mario Kart. It’s like some sort of crazy pipe dream come true. I’m proud to say I pwned my very first race by using the Mii goddess. Yes, it was on 50cc (the baby mode difficulty) but considering that I’m terrible, I will still call it an accomplishment.
Most of my life does revolve around Lightning, but other characters are special to me too! I also took my all-time favourite Mario character out for a spin: King Koopa himself, baby! Ever since I was a wee lass, I’ve always loved Bowser. He can breathe fire like a dragon, he has a badass spiky shell, he gets rid of mean pretty princesses for me, and he won’t quit no matter how badly he fails at life. I’m a daddy’s girl and I really appreciate what an important father figure he is to adorable little Bowser Jr (morality aside). I don’t care if it’s golf, tennis, or kart racing, if something gives me the option to play as Bowser, I will take it every single time (unless Lightning is also an option, obviously). Bowser always feels heavy on the tracks, but I always flash an evil smirk when he crashes through the lighter kart racers (Take that, Miss Peachy! Bwahahaha!).
And of course, I couldn’t ignore my 4th all-time favourite video game protagonist: Link, the Hero of Time. I know I ramble A LOT about Final Fantasy XIII, but it’s actually not my all-time favourite game. That distinguished award still goes to The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. I’ll never forget my 20+ journeys through the first 3D iteration of Hyrule, and it will always hold an extra special place in my heart. I can’t describe the epic feeling I go the first time I saw Adult Link wielding the evil-destroying Master Sword. In this kart racing world, I really like how well Link handles on the tracks. I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed one of his Boost Jump animations is to hold up the legendary Triforce. I’m very pleased to see that Nintendo put some non-Mario related characters on the roster. Maybe Samus could join the fun sometime?
The training wheels had to come off, before I fell asleep
My original plan was to do all the 50cc Grand Prix Cups, to learn the tracks, and then increase the difficulty. I finished up to the Star Cup (the third one) before I was bored to tears. 50cc is just way too slow. I read online that if you complete the 150cc difficulty, it counts for the two lower speeds as well. With this in mind, I decided to crank up the speed to 150cc and try to get the triple star rating in each cup, before moving to the next one. The AI is really, really mean now, but I’m learning much more by getting thrown in the turtle shell pit. It seems to be more about luck than skill. You need the right power ups, and to be spared from the wrath of the Blue Shell, if you want to be #1. I’m still working on the Mushroom Cup, but I’m having loads of fun speeding along the these four tracks continuously. I always just miss 1st place in one of the four races, resulting in a lowly double star score. The game’s cheap AI just loves to sabotage me when I’m on a roll.
My favourite track so far has to be Thwomp Ruins. I really dig the music and the overall ancient ruins vibe the track has. I’ve mastered the dangerous stone ramp short cut that takes you slightly off the main track, jumping over the sunny abyss below. I’ve yet to be crushed by a Thwomp so that’s another positive thing about my terrible skills. I thought the Mount Wario track in the Star Cup was really neat too. That track is basically a giant ski hill you go down. There are no laps, just segments of the track. It’s a very unique design! There are still a TON of tracks I haven’t seen yet. All in good time.
Learning to play nice with others
I’m a big old selfish solo gamer. I’ve learned from experience that I can’t tolerate the angry squeaky mouthpieces and tough guy misogynists that run rampant in the online gaming world. I’m also not a competitive person. I play games to relax and unwind, whenever I feel like it. I just don’t have the energy to defend myself as a female gamer, or the desire to spend countless boring hours training to “get good” at games.
So random online gaming matches are a big “No thanks” for me, but leisurely kart racing with the awesome blogger people sounds like a blast! About 30 minutes after I started the game for the very first time, the fantastic blogger Jay Borenstein (aka the Spoony Bard Mage) over at Nerd Speaker offered to race me in a dumbed down 50cc Cup. It came as no surprise that I lost (even to the Bowser AI), but I learned a lot by racing against this professional.
I can definitely see the appeal of random online matches in Mario Kart. Nintendo has limited communication options so annoying trolls shouldn’t be an issue. I may give it a try if I ever do “get good” (ha!). For now, I’m having many good times playing against those aggressive AI controlled cheaters.
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡
If for some odd reason you want to read more of my posts, you can find a somewhat organized (and usually up to date) archive of my ramblings… I mean, articles here!