Earlier this month, I wrote about Abzu restoring my faith in video games after going through a rough patch. Even after feeling better, video games still weren’t clicking with me. In 17 days, I played video games on three separate occasions because of the stresses plaguing my life. I spent a few hours with arcade games at my local Dave and Buster’s, took part in a couple of rounds of Realm Royale, and on Friday, I played Mario Kart: Double Dash, my favorite installment in the franchise, with friends. We did over 20 races, and even though they were all fun, Baby Park was what won me over. After 10+ races on the course on Friday, I’m convinced Baby Park has every feature that makes video games fun.
Until Double Dash, every track in the Mario Kart franchise only contained three laps. Because of Baby Park, players were treated to a simple track with devious overtones. Sitting at seven laps and 14 total turns, the course screamed beginner but masterfully tested veterans. The turns are unpredictable, but the straightaways provide nerve-wracking moments. From fake item boxes to bananas littering the road to shells, eggs, fireballs, and even Bowser’s shell, Baby Park is a war zone.
More than a feeling
Baby Park is unlike any other map in the entire franchise. Sure, Mario Kart maps are hectic and races are tense, but Baby Park is something different entirely. Its length provides a unique challenge. There’s little margin for error, and the unpredictability may leave players with a sense of unease.
The best games provide players with various emotions. Two of my favorite games, Dark Souls and Life Is Strange, both injected pain, sadness, joy, and anger into my soul. During the Double Dash session on Friday, Baby Park made me rejoice during wins, scream during losses, shout my favorite four-letter words when getting hit with items, and had my heart pumping during close calls. Just like in all of my favorite video games, Baby Park in Double Dash left me realizing why I fell in love with the medium in the first place.
Many video game fans often enjoy single-player adventures. We usually hear complaints about multiplayer-only games, but Nintendo has a knack for making excellent multiplayer experiences. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Splatoon 2, Super Mario Party, and the Mario Kart franchise all prove that multiplayer games can be some of the best around.
The ultimate bonding experience
I was thrilled to play Mario Kart: Double Dash with friends. Normally, I’ll play games like that “alone.” When I say that, I mean that online play against random people is my style of choice. Sitting around with people is definitely the best way to enjoy multiplayer games though. While I enjoyed going through the terrors of Rainbow Road, the entertaining Mushroom Bridge, and the curvaceous DK Mountain, something about Baby Park kept calling the group. I’m not sure if it was the competition, the insanity of the races, or the sheer fun that the track provided, but it was my favorite part of the Double Dash session.
Video games have been one of the defining parts of my life for 27 years. From the moment my grandmother gave me an NES, I’ve been hooked. Whether it’s been saving Hyrule from Ganondorf in Ocarina of Time, becoming the number one assassin in No More Heroes, or earning the most stars to win a game in Mario Party, video games transported me to different worlds that helped me escape the complexities of my life.
Conclusion: Double Dash and Baby Park hold the key to my (video game) heart
In my Abzu piece, I was unsure whether or not I’d be into games again in 2019.
Everything happens for a reason. Some people fall out of love with what they enjoy while others may never experience that feeling. I ended 2018 uncertain about what my year would hold. I mean, after all, if I struggled to enjoy video games, how would that affect my writing about them? That seems to have changed thanks to Abzu. Only time will tell how my views will change, but for now, Abzu has restored my faith in video games.
Mario Kart: Double Dash, and specifically Baby Park, brought me back to gaming when it turned out that Abzu didn’t hold for me. My Friday night racing countless times on Baby Park reminded me of all the reasons I love video games. I adore the thrill of racing, I crave the competition, I love the emotions (joy, anger, sadness), I enjoy letting loose and screaming obscenities, but most importantly, video games have always been something to share with friends, family, and people I care about. Life threw a lot of curveballs my way recently, but the mixture of intense gameplay, one fantastic map, and a group of awesome people showed me exactly why I’ve been in love with video games for almost my entire life.