Gaming comfort during a global pandemic – Reader’s Feature

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – part of a proud tradition (pic: Nintendo)

A reader explains how he’s grown to value indie games above bigger budget titles and why it’s almost all he plays on the Switch.

What a time we are living in. Toilet roll is suddenly worth pawning off your first born child for, we have all embraced carbs as our sole food group and the streets of London are quiet for the first time since… well, I actually don’t know, but a very long time.

There is one word that is on everyone’s lips: Coronavirus (or, as I like to call it, ‘He who shall not be named’ just to give it that Harry Potter vibe).

At this time, people are starting to reach for known and nostalgic sources of comfort to them. For me that has been rereading some Famous Five (a lot more ridiculous, and thus a lot funnier, than I recall from my original reading of them 25 years ago) and the forever-faithful Nintendo games consoles.

Some of my clearest memories from my childhood are spent in my brother’s room. I watched him battling through the Water Temple with Link, take aim at Trevelyan from a perilous overhang, and become slightly cross-eyed while traversing Rainbow Road with an over-zealous finger on the accelerator.

Yes, my brother was the proud owner of the much-coveted Nintendo 64.

Now I should stress that I was by no means an unhappy, or a lonely, child – quite the opposite in fact – but I did sometimes find that my interests and pass times did not always tie in with that of my peers. Where Pogs, yo-yos, and stickers were being traded, I would be nose deep in a book or itching to get back to the N64 – specifically the winding, fast paced tracks of Mario Kart.

This was somewhere that I could, and still can, hold my own. James Bond was always a tad too tense for seven-year-old me. My gameplay involved a heavy use of the invisibility cheat combined with the big heads mode and some very clenched buttocks. Don’t even get me started on Ganon.

Mario Kart 64 on the other hand was a colourful, silly and stress free way to unwind then, and it still is today (blue shells aside). The graphics and courses have upgraded with the times but at its core it still offers the same easy escapism that, at times like these, I crave.

When I feel my heart rate rising and legs weakening, a quick sit down with the Switch for a whizz around Toad’s Turnpike (oh, hey there N64 nostalgia) or Bowser’s Castle helps to bring relief and a sense of normality back into my life.

In this world of Goombas, podiums, and novelty cups my biggest problems are some rogue banana skins scattering my path or an unexpected Bullet Bill blasting through the ranks. It is safe to say that it offers a very welcome change from obsessively checking the latest news feeds, which is only punctuated with wondering if a loaf of bread is going to arrive successfully with the next food delivery.

By reader Victoria Kennedy

The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

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