Mario Kart is by far my FAVORITE game to play on any system, in any way, at any time, etc. The big reason for why that is is probably because how simple the game mechanics are. For this analysis I chose Mario Kart to play on the Wii. I would’ve honestly wanted to chose a FPS game to play, but I obviously do not own one of those and surprisingly none of my close friends have one either. So going with Mario Kart was the best choice, but I was very excited to play this with my roommates!
Mechanics are the actions that a player can take within a video game and it’s what makes the game interactive. Amongst many games that are in a genre, their mechanics are similar. Mario Kart fits within the racing genre, but in my opinion it is on the simple side. As I begin to set up my character equipping them with a vehicle, how to drive it (automatic or manual), and choosing the track, I personally prepare myself to the race (it gets very serious in my house).
My roommate and I chose to use the wheel accessories that you can use with Mario Kart, which I personally think enhance the mechanics of the game. The mechanics are supposed to make you interact with the game because they are the true actions you do. So when we use the wheels, it feels like we are in more control and are playing a more serious racing game. It also makes you try and master the mechanics of the game, like the one being turning, because if you overcompensate with the wheel, the Wii cannot read it. Having turning be a mechanic of the game, is something that makes the user practice to be better at it.
Then the race begins, with a countdown from 3…2…1…GO! The first mechanic I use within the game is the power-up you can get at the beginning of the game to get a power boost. This is when you press and hold “2” on the Wii controller when the countdown hits 2. Then the race begins and I shoot up to first in front of my roommates and the computer players. I didn’t learn about this power-up until a few months after playing the game for the first time years ago. Once I did learn this, I utilize this mechanic all the time and it really does give me the upper hand just for a little in the first lap. Using the 2 button to get a boost in the beginning is not the only boost Mario Kart allows. There are trick, half-pipe and drafting boosts that are all make up the “boost” mechanic.
As you race in Mario Kart, there are blue boxes that are scattered all over the tracks for the players to pick up as they play. Each of these contain a power-up that the user can then apply it to themselves. These power-ups include: banana skin, green shell, blue shell, red shell, star, mushroom, gold mushroom, mega mushroom, blooper, thunderbolt and bullet bill. Playing with my roommates, I usually come in first or second between the three of us, but the funny thing was that no matter what place I was in (especially last) throughout the race, I ALWAYS got the golden mushroom. Which is a power-up that you keep pressing “B” to go faster and faster. On the other hand, my roommate wouldn’t even be in last and she got the bullet or mega mushroom or something better. So this mechanic of applying all of those different power-ups is a frustrating, but enticing feature of Mario Kart. It is a gamble what power-up you’re going to get and that is what I think users enjoy as part of the game. There is also thunder cloud and fake item box that users can pick up which actually is hurtful to their character and their place in the race.
As you can see in the above video, that is myself and my roommate Amanda playing Mario Kart. So how can a game so simple make us so competitive? It is because of the mechanics of the game. A turn, bump, or power-up can make all the difference in how you place at the end of the race. The mechanics also encourage trash-talking as you heard between Amanda and myself. Which is also what makes Mario Kart so fun! A fun, family game can still call for mean words being thrown back and forth.
The mechanics in Mario Kart grow as the race goes on. Racing is the overall mechanic for the game, but as you race there are certain mechanics that better your position. You are able to attack other players with not only using power-ups, but simply by hitting them. You can bump into another player to push them off the side or push them into water that slows them down, or into a feature on the track that can eat them or attack them as well. Using this game mechanic allows the user to get a better placement in the race and allows the user to personally get interactive with the game and not only let Mario Kart chose what attack mechanism they are able to use.
It’s crazy to think that Mario Kart has been around for 15 years and yet people are still interested in the game and its compelling and inviting nature. This article makes a very strong argument for why Nintendo is so successful with Mario Kart. One line that stuck out to me was they said “Mario Kart has never been full-blown ‘hardcore'” and that contributes to its success.
Mario Kart is still my favorite game to play, and now that I have analyzed the mechanics, I’ll be sure to come in first every time against my roommates!