If you'd told me a while back that the best part of Mario Kart 8 would be Luigi's cold, unyielding stare, I wouldn't have believed you. But here we are, and there's Luigi's icy death gaze, and the truth is it is actually my favourite part of the game.
As soon as people started playing with Mario Kart 8's slow motion playback, they noticed it — Luigi's ruthless eyes. It's the stare of a stone cold killer, the glare of a man who thinks only of victory. It's the look of Javier Bardiem in There Will Be Blood, a hateful rubbernecking that seems to plead "Do you feel lucky, Toadette? Well do ya, punk?"
Luigi's resting bitch face isn't going to change the gaming world. It doesn't seem to be an intentional design decision meant to push units, but rather an accidental consequence of Mario Kart TV. But it is the definition of a feature that I want — unintentionally silly and functionally useless.
The marketing gears that decide how games are presented have a tendency to take whatever game they're pushing and break it down to its constituent parts. It would be like if someone at Wendy's tried to get you to eat a burger, but first sent you a million emails about different kinds of cheeses, bread options, additional pickle packs and condiments, without actually telling you how the damn thing tastes. And for the most part, the stuff that's being pushed on you are features you couldn't give a sideways fuck about. The end result is that AAA game development can read like an excel spreadsheet made by an alien trying to understand the human concept of "fun".
But if I looked back on games that I really loved, the things I cherished were immensely useless. Intentional choices like the hum button in Transistor or happy accidents like the spycrab walk in Team Fortress 2 stick out in my memory.
And I'm not the only one. Luke Plunkett loved being able to flourish his lightsaber in Knights of the Old Republic. Yannick LeJaq loved wearing stupid hats in Gears of War 3. Kirk Hamilton adored pointlessly jumping in Ni No Kuni. Hell, Goat Simulator is basically a game made up entirely of pointless crap, and that's exactly why everyone adores it.
So let's celebrate the immensely useless. Let's champion the things that don't get focused tested into the dirt, the gorgeous accidents and the inspired choices we never would have dreamed to ask for. Because without them, the world of gaming would be more homogeneous, sad and calculated than it already is.
What's your favourite useless feature? Post in the comments below.