Memories Under Glass: Super Mario Kart

This is going to be short, but it’s Father’s Day and one memory sticks out more than anything else.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have many games for the SNES that were actually bought and owned by us.  We were much more of a rental family, due in equal parts to a limited budget for gaming and the fact my three siblings and I could rarely agree on a game to get.  Countless memories of mine consist of us spending several minutes pouring over the selection of games at the local video store looking for a good game to rent that at least most of us could agree on.  Sometimes we’d switch off who would pick the games, even, allowing my sisters to choose a game one time and me and my brother would pick the next one.  It kept the peace, for the most part.

The games we did own ended up being games that had more general appeal, or at least were enjoyed by three of us.  A game we owned could generally be counted on to be a good game all around, or at least I like to think so.  One of those games is Super Mario Kart.

Super Mario Kart was probably one of our most played games.  It’s no surprise to me that the kart racing games took off.  My siblings and I would play this all the time.  It seemed to have a huge amount of replay and variety.  Each racer had their own strengths, whether that be fast acceleration, tight turning, or high max speed.  There were also a ton of tracks, separated into multiple cups, as well as multiple difficulties.

The game was just fun, really.  I’d team up with my siblings, trying to work out stuff like the boost start and how to properly skid around corners.  We’d laugh, cheer…all the things that are encouraged by a good game.  However, despite that, the real reason this game holds such a strong memory for me is this: it was one of the few games my dad would also play.

My dad didn’t play many games, at least not for very long.  For some reason he really liked Super Mario Kart.  He’d always pick Donkey Kong every time and play along with us, joking along the way.  Since it was two player, it really connected with me when I was on the other controller.  Having your dad take an interest in what you’re doing, and join in on it, has to be one of the greatest memories of any child, I swear.  Even the fact that he played Donkey Kong warms my heart.

You see…when I was a kid, we would go to theme parks and spend the day there playing around and doing all sorts of fun things, as you do.  Being a small kid, though, I always had trouble on things like rope net bridges, since my coordination on moving objects wasn’t the best at the time, and it was very easy for me to slip.  My dad would notice I’m having a lot of trouble and put me on his back.  Now, normally you might think he’d just go across as normal while carrying me, but nope:  He’d imitate being a gorilla, crawling along and jumping around the rope bridge while I rode on his back cheering and laughing.  He did stuff like this often, or at least I have a ton of memories of him doing it.  My dad must have seemed kinda crazy like that to others but he couldn’t have been more awesome to me.

So naturally, the fact he most often chose Donkey Kong meant something to me.  He’d joke that he liked how Donkey Kong looked like he was hunched over the steering wheel (even if he wasn’t really), and then imitate being Donkey Kong while playing.  Try playing Super Mario Kart when you’re falling over laughing, it’s extremely difficult.  It’s..really almost impossible to put into words just how strong of an impact all of this made on me. I loved him for it, and still do.  I only hope I can create as many memories for my kids in similar ways as he did with me.

Last year, Super Mario Kart celebrated it’s 20th anniversary.  Since then it’s gone through multiple iterations and versions on new consoles and continues to be a fun kart racer.  Super Mario Kart itself can be bought through the Virtual Console, even, and a new one is coming out for the Wii U.  It’s a great game, and great games make great memories.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go call my dad.

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