Tag Archives: Mario Kart

Running a Mario Kart Tournament

I’m very proud of my relationship with Nintendo. And I’m grateful for the IGDA empowering me to use that relationship to benefit the community. Earlier this year, I was able to arrange a wonderful Q&A with Nintendo Treehouse members — Tim O’Leary and Reiko Ninomiya — at GDC.

This time, I was communicating with Nintendo about running an officially endorsed Mario Kart tournament at SIEGE!

SIEGE 2016

For those who do not know, SIEGE is short for Southern Interactive Entertainment and Games Expo. I can best describe it as a really small Game Developers Conference in the heart of the South — Atlanta.

Before I moved to Tokyo in late 2014, I was part of the SIEGE organizational committee. It doesn’t seem much has changed during my absence in 2015. SIEGE still remains cozy as the small, but beating heart of Atlanta’s game development community.

Due to constraints, I refrained from returning to my previous involvement with SIEGE.  This time my involvement with SIEGE was as a board member of IGDA Atlanta. Our 2nd annual Game Studio Smackdown was being hosted at the conference!

Planning Game Studio Smackdown

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Game Studio Smackdown touts itself as a game tournament by game devs, for game devs. It’s IGDA Atlanta’s event to help unite the game dev community in camaraderie. It was a hit last year, so the board was eager to bring it back for a second time. We posted a poll during the summer which resulted in Rocket League as our most popular pick, followed by Mario Kart 8!

As the resident “Nintendo guy,” I was placed in charge of coordinating and running the Mario Kart 8 side of the tournament, which I gladly accepted! I reached out to some of my contacts at Nintendo of America and got introduced to the legal team for the first time. It may sound odd, but I actually really enjoyed it! Serving as liaison between Nintendo and the IGDA, an agreement was formed permitting us to host the Mario Kart tournament!

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A sample of social media posts I prepared and had approved by Nintendo’s legal and business teams!
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Tournament plans sketched out by Alex Batres.

Securing the agreement was the easy part! Planning the tournament structure was the true challenge. Therefore, I recruited the help of my friend, Alex Batres. He not only had good knowledge of Mario Kart, but was keenly familiar with video game tournament structure as a competitive video game player. Together, we established a game plan which prepared us well while running the competition!

Executing Game Studio Smackdown

Thanks to Molly Proffitt (IGDA Atlanta president), SIEGE, and Battle & Brew providing the equipment, setup for the Mario Kart preliminaries was incredibly smooth! I honestly couldn’t be happier.

Alex proved to be an invaluable asset, taking ownership of maintaining the brackets while I focused on commentary. I had a lot of fun and I received good feedback about my performance during the event too!

Ultimately, Alex, who was also a competitor, became the Mario Kart champion with 50 points! All that hard work paid off for him! But for me, the best part was seeing other game devs love the game as much as I do!

Will Buy Mario Kart 8 for DLC

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This may seem blasphemous for a Nintendo fan, such as myself, to say, but I was not going to buy Mario Kart 8. After playing seven different versions of Mario Kart, I’ve honestly had my fair share. I really didn’t want to pay to get more of the same. That is until downloadable content, or DLC, came into the picture.

Becoming Stale

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Mario Kart games. I’m not much of a racing game junkie at all, so if I had to choose from all the racing games out there, Mario Kart definitely comes out on top.

Even with all the koopa shell tossin’, banana slippin’, and the joy of racing as my favorite characters from the Super Mario universe, my interest in the series was waning.  Aside from enhanced graphics (and the new anti-gravity gimmick), Mario Kart 8 was not delivering a new experience. It stayed true to its safe and successful formula.

The eighth rehash of the same, old Mario Kart? Thanks, but I’ll pass this time.

This is partly why I love Nintendo games, because I’m buying a tried-and-true gaming experience. That’s the Nintendo Seal of Quality for ya. This predictability also comes with its shortcomings though. Eventually, despite guaranteed quality, I’m going to want something different.

Without some notable changes, the value for what’s going to be marketed as a “new” gaming experience significantly decreases. Why should I pay to play Mario Kart 8 when I can still get similar entertainment from Mario Kart 7 or Mario Kart Wii? I prefer to spend my money on games that deliver new, fun experiences. Something I feel would get me a lot more bang out of my buck.

The eighth rehash of the same, old Mario Kart? Thanks, but I’ll pass this time.

The DLC Makeover

On August 26, 2014, a few months after Mario Kart 8‘s release, Nintendo made a big announcement. Massive Mart Kart 8 DLC packs were on their way, adding 16 new courses, plus new drivers and karts.

This was not just some update that added Mercedes-Benz cars. This was fresh and exciting new content for the Mario Kart series.

For the first time, the Mario Kart series was getting crossover characters like Link from The Legend of Zelda franchise and Isabelle and Villager from the Animal Crossing series. Even better, some of the new courses will take place in the worlds of The Legend of Zelda and Animal Crossing too.

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This was not just some update that added Mercedes-Benz cars. This was fresh and exciting new content for the Mario Kart series.

This is exactly what Mario Kart 8 needed to convince me to purchase it. With the addition of these new characters and courses, Mario Kart 8 was now able to distance itself from its predecessors and deliver its own unique Mario Kart experience.

Mario Kart 8 DLC Details

I’ve never been a big proponent of DLC before. To be honest, this is really the first time I’ve been excited about DLC. I really want to play as Link and race around Hyrule.

The packs are available for advance purchase and are scheduled to deliver the following:


Pack 1: The Legend of Zelda X Mario Kart 8 (Release Date: November 2014) – $7.99

  • 3 Characters: Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link
  • 4 Vehicles
  • 8 Courses

Pack 2: Animal Crossing X Mario Kart 8 (Release Date: May 2015) – $7.99

  • 3 Characters: Villager, Isabelle, Dry Bowser
  • 4 Vehicles
  • 8 Courses

Pack 1 + Pack 2 Bundle – $11.99

  • 6 Characters: Tanooki Mario, Cat Peach, Link, Villager, Isabelle and Dry Bowser
  • 8 Vehicles
  • 16 Courses
  • As a bonus for purchasing both packs bundled or individually, buyers receive eight new colors for Yoshi and Shy Guy. Those who advance purchase both packs can begin using the Yoshi and Shy Guy characters immediately.

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Mario Kart 8 is becoming more like “Nintendo Kart” now, but I’m glad to see Nintendo take advantage of its IPs (intellectual properties) in fun and exciting ways. In this case, the Mario Kart 8 DLC has gained them one more consumer of their product. Surely, I’m not the only one.