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Tuesday
Sep202011

Masticating On Mario Kart

 

Oh my, my, dear-oh-my! Well-O-well. Agape is my mouth, my mind washed clear by briny turbulent seas into an ocean of calm. Yet calmness and contention are absent, vexation and frustration abundant as in this ocean... Hold on, you seem confused – perhaps I should explain.

So simple, so good!Mario kart is one of my favourite games. From the early days in my childhood, blowing the cart before sliding it into the SNES to snaking along as Dry Bones on the DS, via that cheeky gap in Wario’s Stadium, and with Petey Piranha juggling three shells in Double Dash!! The series has been a constant in my life. The medium through which multiplayer friendships are forged, fearsome rivalries explode, and the difference of a Grand Prix made on the last lap of the last race and by a green shell aimed with pinpoint precision (and a touch of luck).

However, with the coming of the 3DS, and the WiiU coquettishly winking at us from across the room, I’m left thinking what will the future instalments bring in the way of innovation and development to gaming? Do Nintendo need to reinvent the series, or should the series be put out to stud? Of course it fucking shouldn’t! It’s an institution that pubs and club need to cater for! We need 16 player tournaments in the corner of the local battleship cruiser! So by the infinitesimally minute chance that Shigsy himself should read this and that we can affect change in our future, here’re a few suggestions that you, or anyone else, is free to borrow.

Firstly, it is long overdue that there were a few more interesting and dynamic weapons. To follow the example of the Smash Bros series, a couple of new weapons and the option to turn them on or off for battles and multiplayer races would be a welcome breath of air to the dusty green-red-blue-shell staples of the It wasn't called "Super" for nothingseries. Some additions I’d like to see are: a poison mushroom that makes the screen freak out with LSD graphics and trippy 60’s kaleidoscope images (could be Luigi’s special after SSBB); Donkey Kong barrels that you can throw at other characters or drop, making the barrel spin and fire a boost in a random direction; A pink Bob-Omb who walks around until somebody hits it, or randomly boosts to actively attack when characters come around for the next lap; the return of the Feather that makes you jump - helping the player take a risky shortcut or just look flash (imagine the look on your mate’s face after you jump his green shell onslaught); A new fire flower that fires from the sides (Waluigi’s special perhaps? Imagine a little purple fire flower with that Dick Dastardly moustache on, too cute); A little Chain-Chomp that you fire at another character which then takes a bite out of one of their tyres, causing some chaos for a 20 seconds as they try and take corners; A Chain-Chomp that latches you to another player, or can be used to latch two other players together (could mean the invention of a new type of Chain-Chomp too which I predict will be a double-headed dildo of a beast).

A welcome addition would be the return of the character specific special items from Double Dash, but in a way which had each character access to a range of three items as opposed to one, and with some characters selections overlapping Nintendo wouldn’t be pushed too far, and the game would keep an aspect of random chance. One addition should be Luigi’s Poltergust coming to life and sucking up power-ups for a speed boost, The detail wasn't there, but the gameplay was solidand steamrollering over other players and stealing their items, which could be a character + specific kart special option – which in turn would pave the way for Nintendo to think of other such combinations and further extend the weapon system. Bowser and his clown-faced helicopter as a cart could have its special as some Mecha-Koopas to throw, which would act like walking banana peels. Yoshi combined with his egg kart could imitate his special egg-roll move from Smash Bros and roll through course debris with a little speed boost. Much like the Super Smash Bros series, there’s plenty of potential for Mario Kart to develop into a more dynamic and exciting series without diluting the quality, and the item roster getting some proper development would be a great start.

Secondly, they should offer some level of customisation that would truly affect the subtle qualities of a race. From the look of the new promo video it’s been grab-a-gimmick week all week at Nintendo track development offices. Rather than offer wings to float, leap and bound over sections of track, or underwater submariner routes that split one good race course into three poor ones (which anyone will always pick the quickest route and stick to it (as will the opponents, thus rendering it a one route track with two poor options)), they could focus on creating solid tracks with a few pitfalls along the way and keep the variation in the handling and control. Say, each character could have two different karts to choose from, and a standard kart as is the format with MK:DS, but then there could be a custom option from which you use a previously customised kart with the character of your choice. Custom karts could be composed of wheels, body, engine and misc which would change the kart in terms of weight, speed, acceleration, handling, and parts offer special quirky bonuses. Custom parts would be unlocked by completing the Mission Mode (giving the Mission Mode actual rewards for better grades), or by getting better ranks on each of the Grand Prix modes, beating Staff ghosts in Time Trial, or by increasing certain online rankings or stats. I feel that this would lean the game towards a more structured racer with plenty of Mario’s trademark wacky charm. Like F-Zero crossed Such a varierty of track designwith party poppers and balloons.

In relation to F-Zero and its sublime gameplay and graceful craft control, Nintendo should aim to keep things tight and accurate. This is not to say that each race should be sterile and lose that un-definable yet delightful symphony of cacophony, but that the player should always have a feel of control, rather than tentatively steering the incorporeal through the intangible. There is nothing more responsive than buttons, and karts should be as responsive as possible with the threat of sliding into a Chain-Chomp’s mouth ever present; and this is why motion control doesn’t cut it for simple precision and should be directed towards other genres. The difference of several degrees is the difference between a graceful corner with a boost just after the apex, and a flaccid lumber across the mud and into last place; and when trying to nail a precise jump over several turbo boosted platforms you need to feel synergy with your racer and in control, rather than taking guesses with a vague and unresponsive steering wheel.

In addition, take out the ham-fisted half-pipes and the maladroit stunt jumps out. They never fail to fuck the camera up a treat, so trying to play Mario Kart Wii amidst the mess of gimmicky stunts is like threading a needle with a horse’s cock whilst chewing a cattle prod and suffering a nut allergy.

Although, perhaps there is some hope. Perhaps this is merely an experimental interlude before the groundbreaking and universally acclaimed definitive Mario Kart. Nintendo are keen to play around with a concept and try to evolve it in new directions (except with the Mario Party series), and are no amateurs when it comes to amelioration. Now they’ve got plenty of notes on the board and tallies on the graph of ‘hits and misses’. There’s a lot of pressure for Nintendo to remodel and deliver; but then again - it’s Nintendo.

 

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 - KENZI199 is a very good friend of mine and part-time, amateur freelance writer. He writes what he wants, when he wants, how he wants and then sends it to me. As such, his articles may not necessarily be the most relevent, but if I didn't think they were well worth a read, then they wouldn't be on the site. So enjoy!


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