Appreciating Super Mario Kart

Sequels typically have one of three purposes. They are either meant to continue a story, to make a game more “current” or sensible to modern trends (we see this often with fighting games), or to simply improve the original. Usually, a combination of those three purposes can be seen when a sequel is announced with new features or characters to make you want to buy the next edition; I mean, if it were the same game, or an intentionally worse game, there would be little motivation to purchase it. Sometimes, the sequel is different enough to motivate us to return to it regularly, whether that be for the story, level design, or some other reason. For many games, though, especially in competitive series, when a sequel is released the previous title is abandoned almost completely. I find it helpful, occasionally to return to the oft-inferior predecessors to see just how far we have come and maybe appreciate something we lost along the way to where we are now.

Today, I will be comparing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Switch to Super Mario Kart for SNES. It is handy that Nintendo has just re-released the latter via SNES Classic, so if you want to experience the difference that 20+ years makes to a sequel, Nintendo has made it easier (as long as you can get your hands on one)! There are so many ways in which the series has improved, but I would like to focus on the ways that the original has some advantages over the most recent entry. Also note, some of these features are shared by other entries in the series but were phased out at some point along the way.

1. Simplicity

I know that “simplicity” is my fancy word for “fewer features”, but hear me out. When you boot up Mario Kart 8, you are greeted with a host of options and customization possibilities which the game may or may not explain to you. Yes, the options may seem primitive, and MK8D has its own options to make it easier for newcomers, but it is still a lot to process when you first boot it up.

With SMK, there are eight characters, each with their own attributes. No need to worry about whether the kart choice is the best or whether your tires are giving you the best advantage. Each character is a little different. Mario and Luigi are well-rounded, while Bowser takes it slower but has much more control. It makes it easy for someone who has never played to pick up a controller and not have to worry about harming their chances with a customization choice.

2: “Retry” button 

Flow is important in multiplayer games. You want to keep the action quickly moving with few interruptions. In MK8D you first have to set the number of races in each set, which means you have a definite start and end to the set. After those races, the game kicks you out to the main menu and you start over again. In SMK, unless you decide to play a cup, the game sets you loose to play as many races as you want in a row, only keeping an overall win counter.

When my wife and I play Mario Kart, we often find ourselves wanting a rematch on the same track. MK8D kicks you back to the track select screen each time (a product of setting the number of races you play), whereas SMK gives you the option for an immediate replay without any loading time. I know this seems like a nit-pick, but having to go back through a menu when you want a quick rematch takes you out of the experience a little bit.

3: Donkey Kong Jr.

It has been a while since this little guy has been swept under the rug. A forgotten relic of a bygone era. Rest in peace, little buddy.

4: The Feather

Now, I know the feather is present in MK8D, but they removed it from the racing mode, which took away much of its usefulness. Need to make a shortcut? Use a feather. Need to cut a corner especially tight? Use a feather. Need to get out of the way of a red shell? … Well, that leads into my next point.

5: Dodging

Items are kind of the bane of my existence in MK8D. If someone hurls a red shell at you (unless you have properly-placed protection, of course), it will hit you. It will snake around just about every corner and object, break all speed barriers, and it will hit you. In SMK, as long as you are paying attention, you can duck around a corner to outsmart it. You can fly into the air using a feather, because, as it should be, shells stay on the ground. Also, if you are especially skilled (or lucky), you can place a well-timed hop to dodge a shell on its way toward you. The newest entry removes just about any skill element to this dynamic. Your fate is sealed.


Ever been bumping along in first place, no one is around, you are having the lap of a lifetime. Then, the dinging starts. You know what that means…

When the Blue Shell is coming for you.

The blue shell is on its way to ruin your day. Now, I do want to point out two things. One, the blue shell was implemented to give everyone a chance at winning a race. But does that mean the blue shell should be as common as it is? Perhaps once every third race is more appropriate (as more of a “Hail Mary” than an “Oh, I’ll just wait till whoever is in last throws one”). Second, MK8 did introduce the “boom box” (I honestly do not care what its actual name is) to give the assaultee a possible defensive mechanism. These seem to be more rare than the blue shells, though.

Super Mario Kart, if I am not mistaken, is the only game in the series without the blue shell. This means that not only is the game kind to beginners (keeping the options simple so they can jump in right away), but it also rewards the skill of experienced players without punishing them for their hard work.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a great game to play, and I recommend it if you have not yet picked it up. Sometimes we fail to appreciate the features we have lost along the way, though, and I am glad we will always have the classics.

The Happiest Place on Earth

For many Nintendo fans, it is something of a rite of passage to visit the company’s only retail store in New York City. And when I mean “only”, I really mean it. The New York City store is the only retail storefront open to the public for Nintendo fans in the entire world. Every year, thousands of fans make the trek to the Big Apple to visit it. Why?

Because It’s Special

Nintendo New York (formerly known as the Nintendo World Store) is located in Rockefeller Plaza in the heart of the city. Before it transformed into a general Nintendo store, it was a Pokémon Center. For years, fans have made the drive or flight to visit the store. Sure, many come to New York for many other reasons, but stopping here is always a highlight. Some people, like myself, made the trip from Indiana specifically to go to the store, with other activities planned around it.

The store’s footprint is small… but it’s two stories, so the square footage is pretty sizable in the end. But the moment you walk in, you are in instant awe. Besides the eye-popping merchandise that smacks you in the face, the atmosphere and decorations just make you feel good.

Being the only Nintendo store in existence makes it special. It would still be special if others were to open up – which is what some fans are hoping for with the aforementioned renaming from Nintendo “World” Store to Nintendo “New York”. As it stands now, with only one store, it literally is akin to going to an amusement park, and you will look back on your visit there as fondly as if you had been to one.

Because It’s Fun

The Nintendo New York store is like nothing else. It is the hub of Nintendo goodness – one that you don’t even get when visiting the employees-only headquarters in Redmond, Washington, which I did when living in Seattle. If you are a longtime fan like myself, you will spend about a full minute just standing in the doorway with your mouth agape like I did. It is an amazing sight. The store just has a happy vibe to it – a Nintendo vibe, if you will. You are surrounded by beloved Nintendo characters, demo units, games, clothing and more. Much of the merchandise sold here is exclusive to the store. My traveling companion went wild in here when we went – she spent $471 before tax on plushies, T-Shirts, bags and more.

The store regularly holds fun launch events for major games. I was there in May of 2015, the day before the launch of the Wii U game Splatoon, and there was already a long line that stretched down the block in what would be almost 24 hours before the store opened on release day. They make game launches a huge deal with lots of fun, special guests, real life games and contests: they even held a mock fashion show for Style Savvy: Fashion Forward for instance. The pictures that accompany this post are from that time, and the interior has changed since the 2016 remodel.

On the second level you will find a small “museum” section. I believe they change them out every so often, but when I was there they had a section dedicated to the history of The Legend of Zelda with every imaginable game, manual, special edition console and accessories in a three section display case. In front of it was a “History of Nintendo Handhelds” exhibit with every portable console on display – even the obscure ones like the Game Boy Light (previously for sale only in Japan) and the Game Boy Micro. There were also a small aisle with individual cases for each of Nintendo’s home consoles from the NES to the Wii U.

The store is just flat out fun. It is fun to be in. I was in there for three full hours from 9am to just after noon, and it felt like I wasn’t there long enough. It’s a store that invites you to play and have fun, and celebrate Nintendo’s rich history without ever feeling too self-congratulatory. There is no Tom Nook stalking you around to pressure you to spend your bells on anything – you are free to be there as long as you want.

Because You Belong

Going to the store is not unlike going to a convention – everyone in there is a huge Nintendo fanatic, and it feels good to be around them. Your mileage may vary, but sometimes for me, it is tough to admit I am a Nintendo fan among my other gaming friends who specialize in Halo and Call of Duty. Nintendo is looked at as a console for kiddies, despite it being the original home to some of the best M-rated games ever like Eternal Darkness, the Resident Evil remake and Resident Evil 4. Admittedly, Nintendo has lagged behind in sheer hardware power for three console generations now, beginning with the Wii, then Wii U and now the Switch. But the draw of the Switch is its hybrid format of being a portable and a home console. I won’t talk about how awesome that is because if you like Nintendo, you are probably already aware.

But when you walk into Nintendo New York, you feel like you belong. No one will laugh at you for preferring Animal Crossing to Battlefield, or you spent over 100 hours playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe instead of organizing your Destiny clan. And just like going to a Comic-Con, you don’t have to be ashamed of your preferences. The store encourages you to have fun and enjoy yourself, and there is no better place to do it than surrounded by Mushroom Kingdom pipe decorations and giant Bowser statues.

Because It’s the Happiest Place on Earth

Forget Disneyland. The Nintendo New York store is the happiest place on Earth. For all of the reasons I mentioned above – but the bottom line is that it is just fun. It’s like an amusement park without the lines (unless, of course, you are there for a game launch event). The employees are friendly. The shoppers are friendly. The music is friendly. The plushies are all smiling at you, and not in a creepy, Five Nights at Freddy’s way. It is an excuse for kids to be kids, and for adults to be kids again too, because it’s impossible not to become awash in memories of your own childhood when in the store and seeing everything they have to offer.

Eric “Flapjack” Ashley has been a Nintendo fan for almost his entire life! While he also has a special place in his heart for Sega, it is Nintendo that gets him worked up and the franchises that capture his imagination and wonder. Flapjack is hopelessly in love with Animal Crossing. When he is not playing video games, he is a social media guru, assisting numerous organizations with their outreach and promotions, and he is also a big horror movie buff. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @flapjackashley.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Showdown

This episode was a real BLAST! We were so happy, it was like we were floating on BALLOONS!

MARIO KART 8 DELUXE! It’s all the rage, being Nintendo’s latest first-party release on Switch! And it’s an outstanding game, but we knew that of course, from playing the Wii U version. You may have caught us streaming online, but what you’ve yet to see is Scott and Simeon facing off in a kart duel. That’s right, with our Patreon supporter’s input, we’ve picked two battle modes to duke it out in. Are you #TeamSim or #TeamScott?

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Mario Kart Rock Paper Scissors

As you can see, our childhoods were clearly very entertaining.

Sometimes, plain old Rock Paper Scissors gets really boring. That’s when you have to invent your own version! And with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe releasing in North America yesterday, what better way to play RPS than with Mario Kart items? Indeed, the weapons in the Mario Kart series are balanced not unlike rock, paper, or scissors, where some are more effective against others, and can be countered by others still. Join Simeon and Scott as they do what they do best – goof off!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

What’s New in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, home of the lone cheap Switch accessory.

Mario Kart 8 is getting a facelift, and it’s coming to Nintendo Switch! In another show of Nintendo listening to their fans, they’ve completely updated Battle Mode in this entry of their kart racer series, while throwing in a bunch of extra characters, karts, and modes. All of the changes can be a bit hard to keep track of, and that’s why Simeon and Scott have gathered a comprehensive list for your convenience!

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Nintendo’s Top-Selling Wii U Titles

Nothing more thrilling than game sale figures, amiright?

You might be very surprised at the sales records that some of the best Wii U games set. While not regarded as a financial success by most, the Wii U platform was home to some of Nintendo’s most polished work. And the sales figures and various attach rates prove that! Come with Simeon and Scott for a walk down monetary lane as they look at some dollars and cents.

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

How Nintendo Handles DLC

Season pass used to be a bad word – now Nintendo’s saying it all the time!

Breath of the Wild may be receiving perfect scores from around the industry, but its recent DLC expansion pass announcement was not met with as much enthusiasm. Simeon and Scott take a look at Nintendo’s downloadable content track record today before discussing the promise of added content for Link’s newest adventure. How are you feeling about the opportunity to pay to play more of Hyrule’s open world? Sound off in the comments below!

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Why We’ll Miss Wii U

GamePads are about to gather a lot of dust.

Before we officially say hello to the Switch, it’s time to pay our respects one FINAL time to the home console that has entertained us for the last four and a half years. The console that brought us asymmetrical multiplayer, tablet gaming. The console that is home to some of Nintendo’s finest gaming innovations in history! Wii U, you may not be remembered as a commercial success, but we will sincerely miss you! And here is why…

Shot by Alex Campbell

“Escape the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0