Growing up our family was rather luddite, each technological advancement that made it to the inside of our house was a battle of wills against the belief that everything in tech was just a fad. We didn’t get Internet until it has already connected most of the neighborhood. I remember lobbying my parents to get a newer computer with the latest Intel chip inside so that I could play games on it. I didn’t really know what processing speeds or anything really meant, but I did know that trying to sell hardware based only on technical specs does not work (Samsung, please take note).
As a result, video games were never really my thing. I never had the original Nintendo or PlayStation. I think that my first console was the Sega Genesis but with games like Sonic the Hedgehog there just wasn’t a lot to play around with. All of that changed though with the most iconic of video game consoles, the Nintendo 64.
We got the N64 when everyone else did, and it came at the time when TVs were finally large enough to play multiplayer games. Thus the video game era of my life began, led by the two classics of Mario Kart and Goldeneye (Super Smash Bros gets a special mention here). We would spend hours and entire days playing Mario Kart, with my friends and my brothers. Mario Kart became an integral part of the social life of my childhood.
But growing older and having interests change from spinning turtle shells and banana peels to sports and girls, video games inevitably dropped out of my life. They have never come back. The games and consoles got too complex. I tried playing Call of Duty on XBox in college once and there were just too many buttons! The time it takes to dedicate to learning how to play games just to enjoy them is too high. I was tempted by the Switch but with two kids and a career and passions for cooking and music I just don’t have the time.
The exception is occasionally a game on the iPhone that sneaks in. Darts of Fury became a daily habit for a little while and I think I played the SimCity game for a week once. That’s it.
But when I read rumors that Mario Kart was coming to iPhone, I could not believe my eyes. The opportunity was obvious – what western millenial didn’t spend a large chunk of their childhood with Mario Kart? And more importantly, why the fuck did it take so long to have Mario Kart on a smartphone?
The answer is of course to sell Switches (and they sell really, really well). But as of yesterday, the world has Mario Kart on their phones, and I can’t stop playing.
From the moment that home screen loaded I could feel the nostalgia cursing through my veins like those little carts around the track. The game play is simple, you play with one finger. The worlds are beautiful and immersive. And there is just enough of the old school feel mixed with newness that makes for some serious enjoyment.
The annoying part is that before you play you have to create a Nintendo account – which is probably fine for gamers that already have one, but I had to create one which meant leaving the app and using Google to create an account, then going back to the app. If it was any other app I would’ve given up immeditaly, but frankly Mario Kart can get away with it because it’s fucking Mario Kart on my iPhone!
If you need me, I’ll be racing.