Review by webinator14
"Nintendo's Great Franchise Delivers Again"
Mario Kart. One of the most popular franchises that Nintendo has fostered for over 15 years, spanning six different, yet very addicting games. Enter Mario Kart Wii, possibly the most revolutionary title in the entire series.
For those of you who hated the snaking in previous games, Nintendo tried their best to create an equalizing environment that could make everyone pretty much the same in skill level. With the mechanics of the vehicles, they did that, it is now almost impossible to snake successfully, and this normally costs time in a race. However, they did implement one of the most questionable moves in the series: the bike. The title of the series is Mario Kart Wii, leading one to assume you would race in cars. A crafty new feature was to create a second type of vehicle, the bike, which would have different advantages and disadvantages then the typical kart. This was a mistake, because only days after release it was apparent that the bike outweighed the kart in every aspect. Soon the bike took all 32 world records and became the choice vehicle of 95% of the karting world. Yet as long as you don't feel like sacrificing the namesake of the series, this is still not a huge downfall of the game. Also statistics were added for each separate character, hidden but still there, so more often than not you'll see Funky Kong and Daisy littering the course. Racing with your favorite character is now a disadvantage rather than just choosing the right vehicle.
The tracks added to the game, complying with the now common 16 new/16 old track format are very well rounded. As in each MK game, you can expect to enjoy pointing out the details in the courses as well as remarking about their difficulties. Moving throughout the modes of the game you have typical GP mode, Time Trial mode with all-new staff ghosts, battle mode and versus. Time Trial mode is the most improved by the new online feature. Not only can you view the best times from around the world, but can send ghosts to friends halfway across the world for them to challenge with the press of a button. This gives much motivation to try to make the lowest time and appear on your Regional top 10. Battle mode is the most hurt by this new addition. The free-for all, last man standing feature is gone, now locked into a team setup. In fact, the fight to the end purpose to the game is gone, as you respawn if you lose your balloons in Balloon Battle and continue to fight the other team. This is a slight downside to the series, which would have been better leaving the well, rounded item fight mode alone as is. The return of five retro arenas from the other previous installments is a high point, and the five new battle areas are different in their design and fun to play as well. Moving on next to the normal races, items come into play. The addition of four new racers hurt the item part. More often than not you'll be hit by multiple items in a row, dropping your position from first to last. The new items such as the POW block and thunder cloud are a welcome addition to the series, and you'll still see that hated blue shell swarming over your head moments before crushing your race's hopes. Yet the game still has much to offer and is a very enjoyable title to play.
When Nintendo released this game, it packaged a special piece of plastic in with it, the much-praised Wii Wheel. Thankfully, they allowed three other control schemes into the game. Overall, the wheel was gimmicky. You picked it up, found it fun for a while, but once trying the Gamecube, Classic, or Nunchuck controls, let it gather dust in the corner. The truth is, the Wii Wheel needed a little more tweaking, or maybe it was just TOO realistic. Once tried for the first time, most of the race will be spent swerving back and forth. It makes the racing trickier than it has to be, and players will be diving for the easier, faster controllers for a more enjoyable game experience. With the three well-designed controllers, you get what has always been in the series, good solid controls. The Gamecube is best for Double Dash players, while the Classic or Nunchuck are good for people wanting to find a new challenge. Once you decide to put aside the Wheel for good, the controls are very easy and simple to deal with. You can smoothly move through the courses and not have that much difficulty wondering which buttons to press. A very good aspect of a great game.
One of the more expected aspects of this game was the new graphics, and how the tracks were going to look amazingly realistic. MKW disappointed slightly with this part of the title. In fact, even though the shading, the characters, and the animation looks good for a Nintendo game, there really isn't that much difference in the image from Double Dash. Possibly the game creates a slightly less cartoonish feel for the Wii version, but nothing much else. In several of the backgrounds of the tracks, such as those containing the Miis, you can see the pixilation in them as they bounce around the track, and even the 3D versions of Toads and Hammer Bros only bounce back and forth in a mediocre attempt at cheering. I believe that with the whole generation difference in the Gamecube and the Wii, there could have been a little more effort into the background by Nintendo, too much 2D to make that much of a difference. Again though, not bad, just not better than the last console version.
As always, Nintendo scores high in this category. Each of the carefully customized themes for the 16 new courses and the remixed classic 16 retro course themes, as well as the battle courses have their own charm. Hearing each theme and quietly humming it to yourself as it gets stuck in your head is actually somewhat calming. On top of this, the sound effects that weren't in previous titles are put to good use, shown as you drive past the finish line and can hear Piantas, Miis, or Toads cheering and chanting. However there is one downside to the great sound that MKW has to offer. Some of the characters are just plain repetitive. Actually all of them are. Hearing a noise from your colorful karter every time that you wheelie, mini-turbo, use an item, get it by and item, or hit someone else with an item is just annoying. Taking some of these unnecessary yells and shrieks (Especially in the case of high-pitched Daisy or screeching Funky Kong), would make the game much easier to listen to. Sometimes turning down the sound on the TV is the only solution to avoid getting a headache. Still, the music helps this rating not drop as far as it would without the great composition of the musicians.
Racing games depend on replay value, mainly because if you raced every track once and then realized that the game was pretty bad, it would be a very short engagement. Mario Kart Wii delivers very nicely on this prospect. First of all, the multiplayer mode is just as great as it was in every title, allowing smooth gameplay even with four different players. The typical four-level difficulty system and 32 innovative tracks make you want to insert the disc into your Wii again and again. This doesn't even take into account the online mode. Online play was introduced into the DS version of Mario Kart, and was fun but seemed that it was missing something. All of the holes were filled in this version. The amount of players increased from four to twelve, and the system greatly improved. Now players compete for a rating, rather than just wins, and a complicated formula decides the best of the best. Plus, the stars you earn from GP mode are proudly displayed next to your Mii name when racing online, giving you a feeling of accomplishment when racing your peers. Although the system that distributes and subtracts points may be a little glitchy at times, it still is much better than the win-loss ratio that is shown in MKDS. Battle mode is still fun, but the forced team feature explained above detracts from the overall experience. You'll still be playing to get 9999VR and 9999BR for a long time. Added onto this is the tournament mode, where twice a month players are given a new challenge to try and compete at, where under specifications they have to complete a course in the lowest time, sometimes collecting coins or defeating enemies. This is fun, but sometimes gets annoying when Nintendo tries to plug their Wii Wheel into wheel-exclusive tournaments every other one. Overall though, a great game that will have you playing until your disc breaks in half.
This is a truly fun game, one of Nintendo's best. It may not have the best graphics out in video game world, but it still delivers the Mario Kart brand of fun that has always shaped the series. As long as Nintendo keeps developing kart sequels, they should continue to be as impressive as this one.
~~Overall Score: 8/10 ~~
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 01/25/10
Game Release: Mario Kart Wii (US, 04/27/08)
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