It’s not that I suck at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, I’m just not very good. It’s an important distinction. One can be not-very-good at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and still feel like a winner – just practice on the 100 CC courses a few times until you’re comfortably in the lead every cup. It’s eminently doable.
Mind you, I seldom bother to do so. Mario Kart 8 is a comfort game through and through, but the comfort stems not from cozying up on the couch all by myself, but rather from my friend utterly eviscerating me without exception.
My friend is excellent at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. They treat their kart like a weapon. They don’t go for a relaxing race with it – they wield it, bludgeoning the competition as they lap them with glee. In that powerful moment, as they pass me for the second time in a single race, they are like a deity blitzing past a slow-moving mortal in a blur.
I don’t particularly care that I am being bludgeoned. I’ve learned to ignore the pain. Growing up, people sometimes tell children that they can do anything they wish and be whoever they want to be, so long as they believe in themselves. I believe that I could become better than not-very-good at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but I do not believe that I can ever surpass my friend.
I am content being Cat Peach, offering token sentiments with every defeat such as ‘meow next time’ and ‘myah, meow-kay’. This friend of mine has learned to treat me like any other challenger. I am, for all intents and purposes, another CPU racer to be dutifully trifled with on the road to victory. They’ve nabbed nearly every championship trophy for me. Gold, silver, bronze for every cup. It’s… nice, you know? All I’ve had to do is tag along for the ride.
The ride is where my appreciation of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is born. I love the way the game looks and sounds. The art style is sublime. It’s bright and poppy and full of life. The soundtrack is diverse, rambunctious, evocative. I’m swept up in the jazzy shenanigans while you’re keeping an ear out for incoming Red Shells. I once counted the number of Yoshis who will wave at you on Yoshi Valley. There aren’t, like, a lot of waving Yoshis, but it’s important to be thorough. I don’t remember the number, but I can always count again.
There’s so much love put into the stage art in this game, and I can safely say I’ve seen it all. My friend mains Boo, a known troll character who enjoys playing pranks on others. In Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it is the prank called ‘winning’ that gives Boo the greatest happiness.
But I bet Boo – I mean, my friend – has never noticed the submarine-driving pig in Water Park. I love that pig. Also, there are signs for ‘Organic Antifreeze’ on Mount Wario. Oh, and I found a Yarn Yoshi. I don’t remember where. Whatever, I found it. My friend was too busy ‘playing the game’. Bone Dry Dunes. Kind of bland, right? Bzzt, that’s me making a sound proclaiming you incorrect. There’s an ancient vase with primitive Goombas and Koopa Troopers wielding staves hidden away there. That’s badass.
I will never defeat my friend in the game of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Nor shall I ever attempt to do so. For I know in my heart of hearts that I have already won the most sacred prize of all: fun. The fun of discovery, the fun of aural immersion. The fun of writing this silly little article. My friend could have written this, but what would it have said? ‘I’m pretty good at Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’? Meow-be that’s their idea of fun, but I’m purr-fectly content right where I am.
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