A glorious quarter century
Boy, there have been a lot of anniversaries lately that have been making me feel old. A few days ago it was GoldenEye’s 20th anniversary that reminded me of the fun times I had playing four-player deathmatch with people I no longer speak with and today it’s the anniversary of the original release of Super Mario Kart.
Hitting store shelves in Japan 25 years ago, and just a few days later here in the States,Super Mario Kart was a monumental release and remains one of the most important games in the history of the medium. Utilizing Mode 7, it created its own genre and then continued to dominate it for the next quarter century (although I’ve heard some argue Crash Team Racing out does it). I’ll admit I have difficulty playing the original after the series went fully 3D, but I fondly remember those rainy Washington weekends with my older brother and I locked in a war for the ages in the game’s battle mode. Him as Donkey Kong, me as Toad. He usually won.
Great times, but my favorite memory with the series happened a decade later. Until the release of Mario Kart 8, my favorite game in the series was Mario Kart: Double Dash. It came out my freshman year of college and I remember skipping classes to pick it up at the Eureka GameStop. Taking it back to my dorm room, I popped it in my GameCube and spent the next six hours staring at my 25” CRT television. It was nice to have a party game that wasn’t Super Smash Bros. Meleeand for the rest of the semester I would race with and against the other students in my dorm.
Unlike every other game in the franchise, I couldn’t 100% this one alone. The Mirror Mode of Double Dash was too great a challenge for me alone. It was only with my friend Jon, a guy who lived down the hall, had a distinct smell and taught himself to play the keyboard, that I was able to get those gold trophies. It took us several attempts, restarting every time we failed to finish first. I controlled the kart as Daisy, he took care of the weapons as Luigi. It was one of the most intense gaming sessions I’d ever had, and the taste of victory was like that of a freshly tapped maple tree.
I had a lot of shitty moments my freshman year. I was kicked out of all my classes after a paperwork snafu, I was originally roomed with a bunch of smokers who dropped out before finishing, my main roommate for the year constantly fought with his girlfriend who also stayed over every single night and I met my best friend who would one day steal money from my family and I. This little victory, in this little video game, is the one pure memory I have of that year, and I will cherish it until I die of a heart attack on the toilet with a delicious slice of Little Caesar’s Extra Most Bestest Pizza in my hand. Which, at the rate I’m going, will happen next Thursday.
Oh, and Baby Park is still the best.