This blog post is brought to you by Nintendo.
As a kid, one of the first video game consoles my family had was made by Nintendo. I remember my brother and I having lots of fun trying to beat Super Mario Brothers, taking each other down in Pro Wrestling (Kin Corn Karn!) and promising we wouldn't squish each other when one of us controlled the pillars in Gyromite. Looking back, I'd have to say that R.O.B. the Robot was much more kind and forgiving than we ever were to each other while playing that game.
As an adult, my video game tastes have been all over the place. I haven't owned a Nintendo console in a while, but I still have a soft spot for their products and keep an eye on what they're doing. When the Nintendo Switch was announced, I knew that it would be a perfect fit for my current lifestyle. I could take it on the subway with me, have an impromptu session with co-workers on our lunch break or hook it up to my TV at home. What's more, if nature calls but I'm in the middle of an important race, I can even bring it into the bathroom with me. Now if they could just figure out how I can play while simultaneously doing household chores I'd never put the thing down.
One of my highly anticipated titles for the Switch was Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Not only was I looking forward to racing against my friends, but I was also hoping that it would be a good, fun, easily accessible game for my 5 year-old daughter and I to play together. Nintendo graciously sent us a code for a downloadable copy of the game and we've been hooked since release day.
One of the best things about the Switch is the ability to disconnect the left and right sides of the unit and have them turn into controllers (Joycons) for multiplayer fun. A big part of the fun with Mario Kart games is playing with your friends and family, so having the two Joycons at the ready made it super easy for us to start racing together. After I showed her how the game works I gave her a controller, queued up a race for us and watched to see what my daughter thought. Within seconds of our karts leaving the starting line she exclaimed,"I can't believe I'm playing a Mario game! This is crazy!" Her shoulders were up, her tongue stuck out of the side of her mouth to help with concentration and she took each turn in the race with full upper body leans, as if her movements would make the difference between success and failure. She squealed with glee upon completing her first race and immediately requested another go. This was it; our gateway into the gaming world together. And I have Nintendo and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe to thank for it.
To say this game is packed with content is an understatement. It's got tons of characters to choose from, over 40 courses for racing and another 8 areas for the battle modes. The courses look incredible and are packed with little details and environmental challenges at every turn. My daughter's favorite was called Moo Moo Meadows, which features cows that initially are part of the scenery but quickly become obstacles you must avoid during the race. I enjoyed the retro course with an Excitebike theme, as well as the one set in the world of The Legend of Zelda. I've often found my eyes wandering away from the races just to catch all the little details they've packed into the courses, which of course results in my placing fairly low in the rankings once I finish the last lap.
As if playing at home with my daughter wasn't fun enough, I've also taken the game on the road with me. My daily commutes via subway have been flying by as I try to complete as many races as possible before getting in to work. Fortunately the fun didn't stop there, because the awesome portability of the Switch allowed me to set up a small racing party during our lunch hour. I had a handful of colleagues staring intently and waiting for their turn to burn some rubber on the track.
I've also been able to play some of the online components for a few hours and from what I've seen it's pretty smooth. I had a blast racing and playing the battle modes with a friend from Canada, even though he bested me most of the time. The only issue with online that I've had so far is that my friend and I couldn't form a party so that we could go out and race other people together. Hopefully that'll get remedied in a later patch, otherwise we'll just have to get a bunch of friends to log in at the same time and make our own room to race or battle in together.
Overall I'm incredibly satisfied by what Nintendo has accomplished in such a short time with the Switch. I've always appreciated how much value they place on having fun with their consoles and games, no matter how old you are. It's clear to see by the enjoyment my daughter and I got while racing together, as well as the daily requests she makes for us to fit in a few races before bedtime, that we'll be bonding over our experiences with their games for the foreseeable future. The road ahead for my daughter and I is paved with power ups, speed boosts and lots of fun and laughter while playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. That is, unless I get hit with one of those spiky blue turtle shells when I'm about to win the race. Then I won't be laughing so much.