ByMatt Walz, writer at
Avid comics and video game enthusiast and aspiring creator of wonderful things.
Matt Walz

I've played hundreds of games over the years, on everything from Game Boys to Xbox to PC. I've enjoyed them in varying degrees, some I've put hundreds of hours in, some get cast aside after mere minutes.

There really is only one game that can crush you over and over and over again before you even have a chance to recover. Mario Kart.

Two years ago, I competed in a schoolwide Mario Kart Wii tournament. The pool originally sat at thirty-two entrants. I steadily worked my way up, winning each round, eliminating my weaker competition. I didn't win every race, but I got in to the finals sitting at third place overall.

It all fell apart. I came in at sixth the first race, not my greatest, but not unrecoverable if I drove well. The second race came around, and I moved up-a respectable second place, but more importantly, two of my three competitors who had placed above me fell well below. I was truly back in the running, but I had to nail first and get a bit lucky the last two races.

Approaching the Ramp of Unavoidable Doom
Approaching the Ramp of Unavoidable Doom

Waluigi Stadium came next. I started out with a solid third place on the first lap, with first still in view. But as I rounded the corner for the jump, I got the indicator. Red shell inbound. I deployed a banana to block... but it didn't work. I got hit mid air. When I respawned, I was sitting in 8th. But no, Lakitu wasn't done with me yet. As I approached the jump again, yet another shell nailed me, and I dropped off the edge, with no way to defend myself. I made it over, finally. But it was too late. All my work was for nothing. My competition was almost a third of the way around the final lap by the time i got it together again, and if that wasn't enough, the final computer hit me with a blue shell and passed me. Twelfth place. My chances were gone before I ever hit the starting line on Rainbow Road. I managed fifth, after some bad luck again, but it didn't matter. I was last out of the four of us.

I held a straight face, but DAMN was I mad. All of that, beating out nine previous competitors, just to fall victim to a few shells in the second to last race of the tournament. I'd never felt so helpless in a game as I did watching Yoshi drop to his doom over and over. I loved that game, and that series, but if I ever pick up a controller for it again, I may very well rupture an artery.

And who doesn't have stories like this? A perfectly timed shell nailing you inches from the line, a bullet bill dashing your hopes of a comeback. Sometimes you're the red-hatted hero claiming the flag and walking off with the princess... but others you're just another Goomba squashed under his fat brown boots.


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