A Letter to Nintendo (I Met My Love on Mario Kart)
If you didn’t exist I would not have met the love of my life. You’re probably thinking, “So you bumped into someone and realised you both liked Nintendo, who doesn’t? Cool story…” Not even close.
The year was 2008, a year I’m sure many hold dear in their hearts. The year Mario Kart Wii was released. I don’t know about yours, but my days were filled with holding that wheel (of the plastic kind). MKWii was basically the air I breathed, I still remember my very first online race as crisp as a freshly cut lawn (Grumble Volcano before people realised that glitch existed). After playing the other Mario Kart games over the years against item-lucky computers (and the rare actual person), this blew my mind. However this is barely relevant to the story. The point is, people. There were people out there, just like you and me, casually sitting on the couch with a wheel imprint (perhaps 3.5% of the racing population) left in our hands and soul. Many hours (days, weeks, months), races (thousands, easily), blood sweat and tears went into this game and we all got something out of it I’m sure; fun, frustration, and friends.
Living in that piece of country people may often forget even exists (if it weren’t for the fact we use kangaroos as transport, especially after we realised emus don’t fly nor reverse), the option to play continental was such a blessing as we would often bump into the same people and you’d have that unspoken connection. No words, no contact, you just recognised each other by your Mii and/or name (for those who didn’t change it from John to W4FFLEZ, to SwagMeister89 every day). There was this one player that just stuck out to me, perhaps it was her luscious brown pixilated hair. Or it could have been because we seemed to be completely evenly matched, the only thing that separated us were those items. She’d win one race, I’d win the next. We had formed some unspoken bond, completely without contact, as we wouldn’t hit each other with items but were happy to do so to others. Side by side we’d race until some item-happy player would come along and separate us. So I’d stop at the finish line for her, even if that meant getting last place, just to let her know I saw what happened and she doesn’t deserve to come last because of some item spammer (you know, usually the 3 red shells one at a time). This became a trend and went both ways, I’d see her waiting there at the finish line for me. Then we’d both stop, together, and neither of us would cross. We just sat there at the line, revving our engines, moving backwards and forwards, wanting the other to cross. I still remember so clearly at 1am in the morning we ended up in a race together with just one other person, so the 3 of us. The race started but, simultaneously, we turned around and went backwards, did loops around each other, did the stop start (like when cloud man picks you up and you need a boost) into each other’s vehicles, grabbed items just to hit each other with, not having a single care about the race itself. This lasted for a good while, many laughs were had, and it seemed a true bond was formed - without a single word to each other. At this point, Mario Kart Wii didn’t have the option to add a friend just by clicking on them, or contacting them for that matter. You had to actually converse with them to get their friend code to then become friends, so all this time we were ‘scouring the country side’ to find each other (or more so because Australia is about as big as a 250kb USB, it was easy to bump into each other). Race after race, hour after hour, day after day, week after week we would race.
I didn’t know who this girl was (or even if she was a girl on the other side, let’s be honest) but we were Mario Kart soul mates. It wasn’t just Mario Kart that I loved, it was racing her, through our unspoken bond and silly rituals, that was fun in the purest form. It sounds like a Mario Kart love story… Until that dreaded time came where eventually we went our separate ways. It was time to say that unspoken goodbye, time to let go of that unspoken bond, time to move on. That was it…
So that’s the story, I met the pixilated love of my life and we raced until we could race no more.
…Ah but that’s only the beginning. 6 years later Mario Kart 8 was released and I wiped the dust off the wheel, reflecting on the past. That wheel was my partner in crime, Epona to Link. It had scratches, bits missing out of it, even bite marks (ahem, sometimes races don’t exactly go your ways…). Those were the times! I jumped online only to find I had people from France, UK and Italy roam my races. Where were my fellow Australians? I played a few races and that was it, holding too strongly onto the past. Down went my trusty wheel and off went the game. Until one afternoon my brother was bored (or procrastinating) and wanted to know what Mario Kart 8 was like, as we didn’t spend that much time together it was a prime opportunity to chill. So I popped it on, jumped online and went through the motions. A few races with people so far away, whilst fun, I got bored too fast. Almost switching the console off, something stopped me. Those brown eyes, luscious brown hair, big smile, black outfit. Could it be? It was. It was her. In a packed race filled with people from France, UK and Italy there were two Australians. Myself and the girl I raced almost 7 years ago. The girl who stopped at the line for me, the girl who didn’t hit me with items, the girl who who was my racing equal, the girl who I never spoke a word with but shared an unspoken bond. She had the same Mii, same name, there was no doubt it was her. Unlike me I had a different Mii (puberty does things to you) and a different name (I felt now that I was 23 I could level up from nickname to actual name). I knew who she was but she would never know who I am! I was on the tracks riding next to her, beeping at her, bumping into her, all the while knowing she would just think I’m some weirdo who doesn’t know how to handle a bike. It was all so ironic, as well as the fact unlike MK Wii we both didn’t race as our Miis but as Mario and Peach (the helmets covered up our luscious brown hair, y’see). Mario chasing his princess whilst the princess was basically in another castle/didn’t know who he was. I wanted to reach out and tell her who I was; I was that guy she raced almost 7 years ago, that guy who stopped at the line for her, protected her from items, the guy who she stayed up with into the early hours of the morning, that guy she never spoke a single word to. I savoured every race not knowing if I’d ever be able to see her again. I raced by her side race after race, even though I was hit with her items (“And if you hurt me, that’s okay baby” - Ed Sheeran, ‘Photograph’), I even stopped at the line for her. Did she know who I was? Probably not. Next race she was gone.
And that is how I met the love of my life on Mario Kart, twice. Does that count as a real love story? We basically raced into the sunset to live happily ever after, right?
So there may be more to it. Being in a state of excitement, nostalgia, and who knows what, I was a man on a mission. When I’m a man on a mission I usually forget the simple things, like clicking on her Mii to add her as a friend. I didn’t even know such a thing existed. So I literally was a man on a mission. My first resort, google. Obviously no luck. Miiverse! Excitedly I reached ‘Search Users’ and typed in her name, only to realise that it was one of the most common names to exist. After about an hour of searching my hope was wearing thin, my face resembled a Mii who came in at least 10th, head down, lost, reflecting, pondering. Hang on, she had stars in her name! Apparently everyone with the name Lisa has stars in them. No luck. Utterly defeated, I held the power button down for two seconds and just before the third I realised something. Something didn’t look right… That’s right, she had spaces between the stars! I’ve never been more determined to hit that space bar. There she was. I had found her.
“Hey Lisa! I’m not sure if you’d remember me but I used to race as Ed back in the MKWii days! Was good to see you, can see you haven’t lost your touch!” Not even sure if she’d see the message or even reply, it was all in the hands of fate now. Fate it certainly was. She remembered me. We conversed through Miiverse, learning little basic bits about each other. The most important being that The Legend of Zelda was our favourite gaming series (and basically favourite thing to exist). To the point I have a Zelda tattoo and her dog’s name is Link. Destiny? From there, she asked for my email address so she could send me a photo of Link (let’s just say I am very thankful for Miiverse’s lack of characters/ability to send photos).
One message turned into many, across days, weeks and months. A one sentence message grew into paragraphs, pages, novels, photos and videos. One single message evolved into over 25 000 words combined. Who knew what one message could lead to. I had found someone who I connected with on every level, whom I shared endless things in common with, big to small (to the point of both of us being left-handed and our birthdays being 2 days apart). However she lived a whole state away. This was nothing but a mere friendship over the internet.
I came across the amazing fan book “Legend of the Hero” by Kari Fry and bought one, along with a few other Zelda bits and pieces. A thought crossed my mind, perhaps I could send this to her? I mean it’s just as easy for her to go buy it herself, but it would be nice, right? So she ended up giving me her address and I excitedly made her a Zelda package.
Off it went, along with my number on the back of the package (as required by the, ultimate wingman, post office). I soon received a very excited text message and from there we conversed through text - although we couldn’t let go of our novel emails straight away, as our recent messages were “Hey, just letting you know the Postman has left something in your inbox (Da na na naaaa)!” Soon after she sent me my very own Zelda package, which was easily the best package I have ever received in my life.
From there I knew I wanted to meet her. I wanted to drop everything, catch a plane, and meet this girl who I shared this abnormally special connection with. Meet this girl who I had raced for many hours, days, weeks and months on Mario Kart(s) (“Oh I lost you once but I found you twice, and my search is over” - ‘Deeper Love’, Mike Mago). Meet this girl who I waited for; not only at the line but, unknowingly, for many years. Meet this girl who I had spent hours upon hours writing to, words upon words, photos upon photos. Meet this girl who seemed to be a destined part of my life. That I did.
One single flight and a solid friendship turned into thirteen flights (within a month) and a beautiful relationship, with the final flight being a permanent one. I’ve now moved states, transferred jobs, and am living with my best friend, my soulmate, my love. Best decision I’ve ever made was to catch that flight. No, the best decision I’ve ever made was to play Mario Kart.
Who knew that Mario Kart could forever change your life?
Thank you, Nintendo.
P.S. We are now very happily engaged - Zelda rings* for the both of us!