There’s a perfect reason why I love Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and I doubt you can guess it.
The roar of the engine on the starting line, the sweet familiar tones of the light striking from red to green, then the boom of the always welcome perfect start tears my kart from a standstill and slingshots me into the lead. The music comes on, the familiar jovial tunes of Moo Moo Meadows come into my ear (I will fight you if you try to say there is any better course), and at that moment I notice everything is clearer, sharper, and just all around gorgeous. Banking the turns in the electrodome, I find myself giggling as I notice small details I never noticed before. The electric cascade around the second drift, the guitar strumming on the split section, the piano keys right before the launch. The air around the track was filled with electricity! Literally, the particle effects are amazing, the deluxe in the title is well earned.
The best part of this, however, is the fact that it’s all happening in the tiny break room of my work place. I hand the left joycon off to a passing coworker and they’re immediately enthralled with the massive experience in this incredible little gaming platform. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is Nintendo’s proof of concept, the validation for Karen rudely crashing that swanky rooftop party. It’s honestly just cool and attractive in the simplest definition of the word.
None of this however compares to my actual favorite reason, no it’s not the “pretty cool when it works” local wireless play. It’s not the stellar new battle mode, it’s not even the fact that all of the DLC is included and I can drive around as a pink shy guy with a crazy little blue falcon on an absurd lift.
No, it’s simply to the credit of a little feature aimed to keep people’s hands getting cramped on the joycon. Auto accelerate! That’s it, I don’t even use it on my own configuration. Yet, turn on driving assist with it and it changed our world, because now I can slap the right joycon into the wheel and hand it over to my toddler. No it’s not the “haha hand him a PS2 controller with the cord cut so he can pretend” kind of gaming. It is me playing with my son, completely and 100%.
He’s run me over with a bullet bill, he’s nailed me with a red shell, and he’s even passed me while hyped up on a star power. This is my son’s first game and he is in love. He runs up to me as I get home from work with the biggest grin on his face, hands me a controller and grins with glee as I help him pick Luigi. He shouts “GOooOOooOO” as the race starts, and will get very cross with me if I don’t throw my banana peels immediately.
Now, I don’t know if I can credit the foresight of Nintendo for designing a control scheme that allows a 2 ½ year old to beat me at a racing game ONCE (cough cough). Yet, I still can give Nintendo props for being themselves at their very best. Anyone can hold a controller, and anyone can play. My family will never be the same, and I love it.