We were all Nolan Bushnell's "Neon Lovechild" in the 70s. It was different back then.
When Bloodborne was released in 2015, and players quickly fell in love with its setting and gameplay, there was just one thing on everyone’s mind: when is Sony going to make this into a kart game?
Nintendo, and more recently Sega, have made a name for themselves in the ever-growing kart genre with Mario’s Kart and Sonic All Stars Racing, but Sony has no such flagship series. They used to have ModNation Racers, which had an edge over the competition with its user-created content, but even that has been put out to the proverbial pasture, with not a single release since 2010! Xbox has always managed to get by with their more “fun” racing game in Forza Horizon, and while Sony certainly has Gran Turismo, the prestige of that series can hardly translate to the friendlier atmosphere a kart racer implies.
Over the past couple years, fans across the internet have been expressing their constant desire and enthusiasm for a Bloodborne themed Kart Racer, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Despite heaps of fan-art, fake leaks, and countless reddit posts, Sony absolutely refuses to, if you’ll allow me the expression, oil our wheels. While many may come out with some sort of “supporting argument” on behalf of Sony here, allow me to stand up for all Bloodborne Kart enthusiasts (henceforth referred to as “Yharters” (short for Yharnam Karters)) and strike them down.
ARGUMENT 1: BLOODBORNE DOESN’T LEND ITSELF WELL TO A KART RACER
This is one of the most common strawman arguments I see drawn up against what could potentially be one of the greatest games, nay, pieces of art ever produced. Many believe that the world of Bloodborne is too serious to be turned into a wacky free for all racing game, and yet I believe this could potentially be one of its greatest strengths.
There’s a term we in the karts community like to throw around called “tonal dissonance.” It’s when a work of fiction attempts to create a specific environment or feeling, and then ends up going against it in some way or another. Oftentimes this is thought of as a failing or an error, but sometimes you end up with those truly great works of fiction like Drakengard 3, where the stark contrast between themes ends up working in favor of the game. This is exactly the sort of untapped market of ideas that Bloodborne Kart could leverage, and God, wouldn’t that be a sight?
Imagine if you will the seriousness and poignant character of Father Gascoigne, rolling along through a sprawling labyrinth of road and cathedrals, honking his music box themed horn. Picture Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower, just sitting in her “kart,” which is merely her chair with wheels (she could even be lying there comatose, as she is wont to do). Think of Vicar Amelia, comically large and sitting on top of… some sort of tractor. The possibilities are endless and, honestly, inspiring.
These character choices are one thing but allow me to explain more as we broach the next argument.
ARGUMENT 2: BLOODBORNE IS A “STORY-DRIVEN” GAME, KART GAMES ARE NOT
Again, this is another foolish rebuke from the anti-Yharter cabal that I have to see all too often, and it ends up seeming as myopic as those who tout it.
People look at games like Mario’s Kart and they find it easy to digest because of the nature of that game’s world. Mario himself is a bastard who revels in his inability to tell a story (much like the father of Mario, who killed Mario’s cousin, the Paper Mario), so the players of his kart racer aren’t expecting anything in that department. This “standard” ended up following other aforementioned racers like Sonic All Stars and ModNation, but my friends, this does not have to be a requirement.
I’d argue that the storytelling and worldbuilding of Bloodborne, and the Souls games in general, could end up rather fascinatingly delivered through the platform of a kart race. Imagine if you will that you’re at the Yharnam Grand Prix, and you end up clearing it with a Gold Trophy. What if then, you were able to go into the inventory and read an ambiguous omniscient narration of what exactly had gone into the making of the cup and, well, even the prix itself?
This Inventory screen could carry not only your trophies, but also individual parts of your kart, cosmetic or otherwise depending on the type of game the developers want to go with, and you could examine each of them for these small tidbits just like the source material. By the time the credits roll on Bloodborne Kart, there would be enough mystique and half truths buzzing around the players mind that the game would end up being a hotly discussed topic across the various lore and game theory channels in the Youtubes. It would also help serve up a dozen thought pieces about just how deep and engaging the world of Bloodborne Kart is compared to so many other games, helping provide my chosen profession with a steady stream of easy work.
ARGUMENT 3: THE “MARKET” JUST ISN’T THERE
Any time someone comes up with an absolute banger of a genius idea like Bloodborne Kart, a bunch of funny guys make their way out of the woodwork to act as if it’s not financially viable. Frankly, these people need to find better things to do, and re-evaluate their misplaced anger at an incredible concept, but for now I’ll humor them.
When NieR: Gestalt and Replicant came out in 2010, the game had flopped tremendously, being dubbed a critical failure by both Square Enix and game director Yoko Taro. So by the logic of these so called naysayers, NieR: Automata was being created for a market that just wasn’t there either and yet, oh! What has happened? Critical Success, record sales, amazing tremendous profits for Square Enix and company, how strange.
Bloodborne Kart might seem like an anachronistic idea for what people would want out of either a Bloodborne or a Kart racer, but that’s only because they truly don’t know what they’re missing. Many times a market seems like it doesn’t exist only because the consumers don’t understand what something is, especially when that product is breaking never before seen ground. Bloodborne Kart would be pioneering an entirely new subgenre of the Kart Racer scene, not too different from what the rogue-lite genre accomplished in the early ‘10s. Back then you’d think people would’ve been crazy to make a more accessible and different form of the outlandishly difficult and inaccessible Rogue, and yet here we fuckin’ are, waist deep in the Spelunky sludge. Bloodborne Kart could end up making a Yharter out of us all.
I think that I have struck down the three major fallacious arguments against a theoretical Bloodborne racing game, but I feel like I should really end on a more positive and optimistic note.
Sony, over the past few years you’ve started to garner a reputation for supporting the arts, especially those from back in Japan. I beseech you, please, consider the artistic ramifications of broaching new terrain and ideas in the often rarely-considered Kart Racing genre. You’ve managed to take an easy win this generation over Microsoft through careful consideration of industry trends and desires. Let this be another feather in your cap.
When players boot up their PlayStation 5, let it not be to the tried and forgotten Killzones or Infamous of the past, but instead to a whole new universe of artistic freedom, and liberation. Let them rev up their engines in a world loved and familiar, and that they’ll never forget.