5: Expect the unexpected
You are in first place, after a series of skilled corner drifts and frantic banana dodging. Only half a lap left before you finish and take the cup, you can already hear the victory music. And just as you embrace the warmth of a certain win, you hear the dreaded sound of your worst nightmare: the Blue Shell.
You know at this point you have two options: You can slam on your breaks and allow the racer in second place to overtake you and take the nuke, or you can put your foot to the floor and try to ignore your impending doom. Lets be honest, the majority of us pick the latter every single time. Either way, you are almost certainly screwed (unless you have an unbelievable lead).
The Blue Shell teaches us that victory is never guaranteed. It is almost a modern version of the tortoise and the hare. Only this time the hare has worked super hard and pulled out all the stops to gain his lead, only to lose it all when the tortoise inexplicably turned blue, sprouted wings and flew at the hare with skull-shattering force.
4: There will always be others to rival you
You will notice as you play through Grand Prix mode that you will always be competing for first place with the same racer. If it’s not one of your friends, it will be a racer cunningly picked to make your racing career rather difficult. You will find yourself staring enviously at the back of your rival’s head, begging the gods of Mario Kart weaponry to grant you with a solution.
In the real world we have to compete with our peers whether we want to or not, be it applying for the same promotion or simply having a game of Halo.
Chances are, if you are good at a game, there is someone else out there who is just as good or better. This is not necessarily a negative thing because it is partially what keeps us striving to better ourselves and try harder. We all want to be the very best, like no one ever was.
3: Better to be safe than sorry!
Now then, how many times have we seen the over-confident racer start with a skid and a sigh because they tried to get a boost start? The same type of racer who takes ridiculous risks only to have it pay off 1 out of 10 times. Not that these type of players aren’t to be admired, their boldness and nerve make any race more interesting.
Part of the problem is perhaps that Mario Kart has been released over multiple platforms since the original, Super Mario Kart in 1992. The method of a boost start varies with each game and thus playing different versions is bound to get confusing. Maybe there are players out there who have a 100% success rate when it comes to boost starts, but I am yet to see any in the flesh.
Some Mario Kart tracks give you a cheeky wink and offer you a shortcut, the only catch being it could risk your position in the race. Usually this requires you to have the correct item at your disposal, but even if you do, a rogue Red Shell could strike at any moment and foil your plans, or you could just miss.
I could be alone in this but 99% of the time when playing Mario Kart I choose to avoid the little temptations and play it totally safe. I see it as potential damage mitigation, as I know I am going to have to deal with sneaky bananas and shells whizzing around the track.
Avoiding risks in real life is probably also a good idea. This point more tightly ties in with the tortoise and hare metaphor: Slow and steady wins the race.
2: Be creative
All Mario Kart games offer you and your adversaries an arsenal of items to use during races. A little outside the box thinking can make these items more powerful and valuable.
Double Dash is particularly interesting because there are 2 racers per vehicle, each with their own “bonus” items. This allowed for interesting combinations, such as peach and Yoshi: Yoshi gains throwable eggs that act similar to Red Shells, and Peach gains a heart shield which absorbs 2 hostile items, meaning Peach’s bonus is helpful while in the lead and Yoshi’s bonus is helpful when trying to take down foes. There are many other combinations that can play a big part in the way the race plays out.
Observing the way your opponents take corners is useful when it comes to dropping bananas on the track. Placing them in front of jumps and after speed boosts can also spell the end for your foes – or you if you forget.
Although these methods seem devious, Mario Kart teaches us that a little creativity goes a long way.
1: It’s actually just all about having fun
If theres something we are sure to experience when playing Mario Kart, it’s fun. This fantastic series of games is one of the few non-serious racers that continues to be explosively popular with gamers.
Mario Kart is silly, brutal and funny. You may not have reached first place but you had a lot of fun trying.
Ultimately in life we all just want to be happy and have fun. Mario Kart reminds us to not take things too seriously, how to be a graceful loser (yeah, right), and to keep growing no matter what life throws at us!
And that’s that for our 5 Mario Kart life lessons. What have you learned from playing your favourite games? Are you that mysterious player who can boost start every time?