I’ve spent the last few days replaying the first Mass Effect game, and was going to blather on for a bit about how this has been the Year of Replaying Games. It would have been a thrilling post, trust me.
Then, I got a pair of emails that made me put that on the back burner, because they’re the sort of emails that would have gotten me thoroughly spun up when I was younger and reading a little too much slashdot.
So, a little back story.
Saturday evening, we entertained a couple of friends. I used the occasion as an excuse to buy Mario Kart, so we played that for a bit, and one of them also wanted to see Horizon Zero Dawn since they had just recently gotten a PS4 for the purpose of playing Nier: Automata, finished that, and wanted some game suggestions. So that got an hour or so in the PS4, long enough for him to get through the Young Aloy sequence anyway.
This morning, my inbox lights up with the aforementioned emails: one from Nintendo offering me a Mario Kart wallpaper and links to a strategy guide and a second, from Sony, offering me tips for getting started in Horizon Zero Dawn.
I guarantee you that there was a point in my life when I would have flown completely off the handle about how this was a breach of privacy and how dare they monitor what I’m playing and there may have been just a touch of frothing at the mouth. I’m older and more mellow now, and this actually seems kind of neat. I don’t actually NEED Horizon tips, but I’ll take a free wallpaper because what the heck.
As an aside, this is only the second time I’ve bought a game from the Mario Kart series. The first was Mario Kart 64, and I think it got played all of once before it got popped out of the N64 so I could try F-Zero X and then never got put back in because why would anyone play Mario Kart 64 when F-Zero X is an option?
Looking back at the price of N64 games, I made a lot of fairly dumb purchasing decisions. I was young and working in the tech industry and was going to hit the IPO Jackpot Any Day Now.
Narrator Voice: He Didn’t Hit The IPO Jackpot.
Anyway, it turns out that the franchise has come a long way since the mid 90s. For one thing, you can play as an Inkling Girl on a red scooter, and I will admit that this is the the reason I was looking for an excuse to buy it in the first place. It’s also ridiculously pretty and I’m honestly blown away by the imaginative nature of the racetracks. Furthermore, the steering and acceleration assists make it the perfect “I have company” game, because at that point all you really need to explain is that pressing L will fire items and then you are set for hours of good-natured rivalry. By “good-natured rivalry”, of course, I mean that things were said that we will probably need to take back later, once we’ve all had a little distance and time.
I must also admit, VERY begrudgingly, that I see a small bit of value in Nintendo’s approach to generational iterations of software. Mario Kart came out a year ago and was itself an ever-so-slightly updated version of the WiiU game from 2014. It’s still full price, and normally I’d consider that ridiculous.
It’s still a little ridiculous, BUT…
Nintendo has never released two Mario Kart iterations on the same console, so it’s very unlikely that a “Mario Kart 9” will come out next month to make me regret this purchase, and a lack of different versions means that there will always be a new influx of opponents to play online against. I’m still not fond of their attitude towards discounts, but I will give them a little credit in this case.