The Enduring Appeal of Mario Kart
One of the best games I have ever played is Super Mario Kart. It simply embodies all those elements that make Nintendo titles so great. It is a polished product with a cheerful aesthetic that is eminently playable. It has exactly the right balance between skill and random chance resulting in a fun and compelling game. No two races are ever the same. It is one of the few titles that I have literally played all night with friends. I still smart over the “incident” where someone stole my feather just as I was about to jump across the shortcut on the Ghost Valley 1 track (this will make perfect sense to those who have played the game).
Due to the game’s inherent appeal, there has been a further seven incarnations of Mario Kart. All have proven to be bestsellers. Despite Nintendo’s ongoing financial difficulties, last year’s release of Mario Kart 8 was a welcome shot in the arm for the ailing games company. Sales have reached 2 million copies in the US alone since its May release. The title has also been beneficial for sales of the ailing Wii U, a console that until recently had been effectively written off by many in the gaming industry. Furthermore Mario Kart 8 attracted “strongest review scores in franchise history,” according to the company.
So what exactly are the reasons behind the enduring appeal of Mario Kart? Obviously the accessible and well-conceived game mechanics are a big factor. Each new version of the game maintains the balance between refining old ideas while introducing fresh new ones. The pleasant graphics with their stylised cartoon aesthetic along with the playful soundtrack broadens its appeal to all age groups. The game also lacks the male-centric philosophy that is associated with so many driving and racing franchises. Perhaps the most important quality present in all versions of Mario Kart is the “fun factor”. It’s something Nintendo has always inherently. It’s the reason why I still play Super Mario Kart today, via an emulator on my PC and tablet.