"Much of what we experience in life results from a combination of skill and luck," writes esteemed analyst Michael Mauboussin. And while he doesn't name-check Mario Kart explicitly, I think we all know what he's getting at.
Mario 8 Kart Deluxe is set for release on April 28th and we've been fortunate enough to have spent around a week with the game now - and it's an extremely impressive package. Graphical upgrades in terms of art assets are few and far between, but this release enhances one of Wii U's very best titles - easily one of the best-looking games on Nintendo's last machine. On top of that, a good amount of thought has gone into gameplay tweaks that subtly improve playability, and yes, there is additional 'content'.
The new generation of consoles aren't so new now, at the end of 2014. In the past year they've become a familiar fixture in our living rooms and under our televisions: familiar, too, has become the endless dance of downloads, patches, system updates and slightly underwhelming experiences in what's been a low-key debut year for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. We knew it'd be a slow start, but nevertheless there's disappointment in the lack of something truly new to latch on to once you look beyond the inflated resolutions.
Happy New Year to you! Having had a little time to recover, I hope your head's all fine and dandy - we're still druuuuuuuuuuuuunk, but that's pretty standard for a Friday morning.
If there's one Nintendo franchise that can be counted on to deliver the goods time and again, it's Mario Kart. As perhaps the most iterative of its hallowed franchises, each new instalment further refines the formula in ways typically reserved for competitive fighting games. In this regard Mario Kart 8 is no exception and presents, in many ways, the most radical departure the series has seen in more than a decade. Tracks now twist and turn about in a gravity-defying WipEout/F-Zero manner while visual complexity is on a whole new level compared to previous offerings. But has Nintendo retained that oh-so-perfect balance between sharp, colourful visuals and a smooth, consistent frame-rate? Failing to nail down this aspect of the game could seriously hurt the experience and tarnish a near-perfect track record.
You probably knew this bit already, but Mario Kart 8 is looking like another polished racer from Nintendo. The game's visuals are beautiful, 1080p and 60fps even in two-player split-screen, while new characters and weapons such as the Piranha Plant keep things feeling fresh amongst otherwise familiar surroundings.
The Christmas period often takes me back to games I haven't played for a while. All that travelling around, all those afternoons on family sofas, all those frosty mornings and ridiculous winter discounts on Steam and elsewhere - it's made for it. One game I didn't expect to end up playing in December, though, was Mario Kart Wii.
Mario Kart is one of the few Nintendo series where you can actively glimpse the series' history within each new entry. You can still buy digital copies of past classics via the eShop of course, but in each recent Mario Kart title the franchise's past is right there in the game, in the large range of returning retro tracks that complement each new roster.
Nintendo's retreat from the very public PR war of the E3 press conferences turned out to be a more literal one than we might have thought. This morning in Los Angeles, the company replaced its traditional stage show first with its Nintendo Direct live stream and then by inviting press to its stand before the show floor opened to play six key Wii U titles and meet their creators.