Review by TheRedneck14

"Fun Racing... Frustrating Items"

Mario Kart Wii is the latest iteration in Nintendo's classic Kart Racing series that created a genre that many people have tried to rip off over the last 17 years. While some things were done very well, there are just a few things that kept me from fully enjoying the game.

Story: 5

You race Karts against other characters in the Mario universe, nothing else. I'll leave this out of my final evaluation of the score.

Gameplay: 8

There is no denying that MK Wii is a very fun game. Most of the new tracks are very well designed, and the new features work good enough.

The main things that have been introduced are tricks, and bikes. First off, you can use the Wii Wheel to perform jumps while you are in the air to get a speed boost, which adds an element of finding the best places to make those jumps a vital part of the game if you wish to win. The Bikes are mainly lighter versions of the Karts that accelerate faster, and turn sharper. They are good but I prefer using the Karts.

The main game is the Grand Prix where you are playing in 50cc 100cc or 150cc [as you go up, you get faster and the AI gets meaner], which is racing on 4 of the 32 tracks in this game in order to unlock more of the Grand Prix levels, and other Karts/Characters. You can also play Time Trials where you can try to set the best times and unlock "Expert Ghosts" which are the best of the best in terms of who Nintendo used to make them. One thing I found was that although the Grand Prix is fun enough to do, there are some problems with balance and how the AI is programmed to use them on you every chance it gets, but I'll cover that in the Challenge section.

As I said above, there are 32 tracks, 16 of them are completely new, and the other half comes from the SNES, N64, GCN, and DS games [and I think there is one or two from the GBA]. While the newer tracks are for the most part, very well designed. It seems like the older tracks only got a mild graphical update [with the exception of the N64 ones, which look great] and they play differently because there are not as many places to do tricks on them. But I still like playing on some of my old favorites for Nostalgias sake.

As for the Items... never before has Mario Kart been THIS damned unbalanced. I know that when I played Double Dash I was screaming at the TV a lot because of how Blue Shells continuously hit me, but in this one now that there are 12 racers it is just 4 more chances for the cheap AI to screw me at the last minute like it always does. I have also found that it is more beneficial to stay near the end of the pack until the last lap and then just let loose with all of the overpowered items you get and jump back to first place in a matter of seconds.

Before I end this section I just have something that I need to say about some of the unlockables. There are a lot of characters in this game that you can unlock, but unfortunately it seems like they are not really able to come up with real characters from the Mario universe anymore. Why is that you ask? Well... there are 4 babies, and there are a couple characters that should of been replaced because they do not deserve to be anything more than something Mario stomps on. This did not affect my score but I just felt I had to mention this...

So, in conclusion to this section, the racing is fun but how unbalanced the items are will **** you off more often than not.

Challenge: 8

As I said above, there are so many things about this game that are unbalanced. I remember when I play Mario Kart 64 that it was so damn easy for me to beat it [although, I have played that a lot over the last... 10 years, maybe it was harder at first], but that is mainly because that the AI was held back on the items that they could get, and because the only thing that they had in terms of challenge was their Slingshot AI [the farther away you get, farther that thing gets pulled back, then if fires and they wing by you].

But in recent Mario Kart games the AI has had the ability to get whatever item they want whenever they want, and they will always hit you with it no matter what. I have done races where I was hit by Blue Shells 5 times, and every couple seconds something gets flung at me and then I drop back down to last place and I have to fight my damnedest to catch back up because one mere item is enough to make a huge difference in a close race.

I have also found that being a Lightweight is virtually useless because when you played as one in DD you would get battered around a lot, but now it is just so much worse. If you touch one of the heavies in a LW Kart, you're screwed...

All I have to say is that Items have always been a part of Mario Kart, but I think they really need to get toned down.

Controls: 8

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the Wii Wheel actually worked quite well in this game, but unfortunately I found that because this game makes me slam my controller into my leg a lot in anger... the GCN Controller I have let me drive a little bit better.

The only real gripes that I have are that the steering feels a little too loose, and the controls for the controllers should of been customizable. But other than that the Wiimote has been used quite well.

Graphics: 7

Thankfully, the plague upon MK:DD's graphics of having eyes on every single inanimate object has been removed, and MK Wii's graphics look good for a Wii game. The Lighting is well done, some of the textures look as good as they did in Galaxy, but some of them don't look anywhere near as good. Although this is a decent looking game it looks like a minorly upgraded Double Dash in some places, and there are still some problems with blocky characters.

But, this is one of the better-looking games on the Wii. Although you can also contribute that to the fact that a lot of Devs still half-ass their games for it.

Sound: 8

Like I said about the graphics, MK Wii also sounds a lot like its Game Cube predecessor, but that is not really a bad thing.

The same cheerful music is still in most of the levels, and the remixed music for the older levels sounds great. The only problem I have is that some of the voices changed way too much, I think that Charles should go back to voicing Mario and Luigi back like he did in Mario Kart 64 because those were the only ones that sound the way I would imagine them sounding, unlike the insanely high pitched ones we have today.

Multiplayer: 9

If you want a reason to play the game, there isn't anything better than this in it.

Although I did not like the offline mode much because it was basically the same as GP without points, playing online is fun if you are lucky.

First off, anyone here who has read my review for Smash Brothers would know that I was mad about how poorly the lag filled mess of an online multiplayer mode was [someone should fix those servers!]. Luckily, Mario Kart Wii has shown us that Nintendo actually can put in an effort with online gaming!

There is almost no lag, you can also check out records for Tournaments and Time Trials [and gasp at how much higher some peoples records are than yours =(] while you are not in a match.

Now, when you play online you can get up to 12 people, and before the race starts the participants pick what level they want, and the level is randomly picked from those choices. Then, you start racing and you can finally experience a decent online match using the Wii. There is also a battle mode, which you can just think of as a 12 player version of the Battle modes from the old games, with teams of 6 against 6.

Unfortunately, there is still a minor problem although it is not as rampant as in the GP. The horrible unbalance of the items shows and if you are a newbie the items will crush you if you get close to first place. But that is the only problem I have. You also still have to deal with the friend codes, which were a horrible idea... please Nintendo just rip off Xbox Live and use something similar to a damned Gamertag.

I would highly recommend playing this game online if the long waits for a match on Brawl irk you too much.

Atmosphere: 7

Mario Kart Wii looks like a relaxing cartoony game that is just fun to play, and it is if you are good at it. The levels have a very well done Mario-ey feel to them, but the frustration of the constant assault of items from the cheap AI gets in the way of that.

Replayability: 8

There are three reasons to keep playing this game. Great Multiplayer, Unlockables, and Time Trial Records.

Pros:
Wii Wheel works well after some practice, well-designed courses, LAG FREE MULTIPLAYER, Mario Kart Channel, the new features work well.

Cons:
Cheap AI and Items, Friend Codes, Light Weights are useless, get rid of the damned Babies!

Should you get it:
If you are looking for a good game for the Wii, or at least something to hold you over until the 3rd Party Devs actually make a friggin effort on their games..... Pick up Mario Kart Wii. But maybe you should rent it first to see if you like it enough to buy it.

Overall:

Mario Kart Wii is a fun game, but unfortunately the items have become so unbalanced that the game makes you want to pull your hair out sometimes. Also... from seeing some of the new characters I think it is almost time for Nintendo to just rip off Smash Bros and make "Nintendo Kart" because at least then I would not just use a Mii in every round anymore.

7


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 05/12/08

Game Release: Mario Kart Wii (US, 04/27/08)


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