Also: I was a ghost all along.
In going back over the series, I've realised that it was pretty much only Mario Kart Wii that I skipped altogether. I mean, obviously I bought it... but I made the mistake of buying it with that awful steering wheel thing. You know: the one you slotted the Wiimote into, which made it feel like you were a 5 year-old waving a paper plate around.
"Brrm brrm! I'm a car driver now!"
I hated the experience so much that it put me off the game altogether.
I'd even forgotten that I'd bought the various handheld instalments. I guess, for whatever reason, my stupid brain couldn't handle the notion that I'd played as many as eight Mario Karts. Regardless, ever since Mario Kart 64, the series stopped having an impact on me. In short: I hadn't truly loved a Mario Kart since the original.
Part of my problem is that much of the entertainment I got from that Super NES classic derived from the balloon-bursting battle mode. Making the series all polygonal buggered that up for me; you couldn't see your opponents until they were right on top of you, because the arenas were all sprawling and multi-levelled. How we'd chortle upon seeing a mate whizz past on the other side of a low wall, but not being able to get to them.
Tainted by all this, of course I skipped Mario Kart 8 when it first came out on the Wii U. Now that I've played Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, however, I accept that might've been a mistake. You see... it's really good. Like, really, really good. In fact, it had much the same effect on me as Breath of the Wild - plastering a massive, soppy, grin across my face.
It's basically the video game version of that ruddy Faceapp thing that's currently clogging up social media.
Oh look: It's Hitler as a grinning baby! LOL; Doctor Crippen is really smiling in this one! And here we have Pol Pot as a teenage girl! ROFFLES!!!!
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a smorgasbord of lovely, arriving with the original Mario Kart 8 tracks, plus all those Nintendo released later as DLC; there are more tracks, characters, and customisable vehicles than you can insert a frond into.
Tracks twist through 360-degrees, and encompass not just classic courses from the series history, but are inspired by other games from Nintendo's back catalogue. If you're yearning for a brand new F-Zero or Excitebike... well... you almost get it here.
It's tight and thrilling, and the difficulty slowly creeps up as you work your way through the difficulty levels, until it becomes an eye-watering challenge. It's a perfectly balanced learning curve, the racing game for people who don't like racing games.
Best of all, the various Battle Modes - apparently, the part of Deluxe with the most significant upgrade from the Wii U incarnation - are brilliant.
As well as a version of balloon-bursting which is the most fun I've had with balloon-bursting since the original, there's a great mode called Renegade Roundup, which basically plays like a cops-and-robbers chase. There's also a race to collect the most coins, and a Mario Kart take on capture the flag. Suffice to say, you get your money's worth.
Of course, this comes into its own due to the Switch's portability, and splittable JoyCon controllers. And - get this - they work just fine. It's a perfect marriage of software and hardware, succeeding in bringing the series back to its hysterical multiplayer roots.
In almost every respect, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is about as perfect a version of Mario Kart as you could get. However, I say this with a few minor qualifications.
Nintendo has included both auto-steering and auto-acceleration. I get that; they're a family-friendly company, and this makes the game accessible to everyone, regardless of age or ability. However, these features are switched on by default, and nothing in the game nor the non-existent documentation make this clear.
Consequently, I got all the way through the 20CC tracks wondering why the game felt like it was on rails, why it would nudge me away from shortcuts if I didn't react to them fast enough, or steer me back to the centre of the track, away from the edges. I don't mind this feature being there... but to not flag it up as an on-screen option seems like a weird oversight, particularly when so much of the rest off the game is perfect.
Also, we probably do need to discuss the fact that - as rounded and stuffed as it is - Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a three year-old game. Plenty of people skipped it on the Wii U, but, as gorgeous as it looks, there's little here to suggest the Switch is a more powerful machine. Side-by-side comparisons suggest the graphics are virtually identical.
This is an issue when you consider that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is only Nintendo's second major release for the Switch... and it's basically a re-release. Plus, Nintendo isn't going to be having any kind of major presence at the up coming Electronic Entertainment Expo - during which many fans were holding out for some major announcements - and questions remain over the company's Switch strategy.
Taken as it is, however, and speaking as someone who never played the Wii U version, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is a pure delight. I've been away for games for the best part of a month, because life got in the way, but this was the perfect game to "water" my "plants".
It's as much fun as video games get - a bright, breezy, uncynical, accessible, game that just wants to make players happy.
And it did. It cheered me right up.
SUMMARY: Interactive prozac.
SCORE: 8 out of 8.