Review by JRYR19

"An on-par new installment in the Mario Kart franchise."

Introduction:

In the newest installment of the Mario Kart franchise, Nintendo has decided to stray slightly away from the norms set in the past and try some new things. While doing so, they also retain some of the major key elements used that made the Mario Kart franchise so popular. The main question is; does Mario Kart Wii work with these several elements blended together?

Gameplay: 9/10

Mario Kart was always a game I could have in my console and leave it there for extended periods of time. The gameplay was always refreshing with each new installment (for the most part) and having fun was the general byproduct of playing these games. In Mario Kart Wii, I can safely say that Nintendo has created a worthy game in its series on the Wii, and obviously it can be contributed to its gameplay.

The racing in the game is, 90% of the time, a fun experience. The new addition of bikes, a skeptical new add-on, is actually a redeeming aspect of the game. In fact, I find myself and many others using them more often because of certain advantages, but karts still seem to work nicely.

When buying Mario Kart Wii, the game includes a Wii Wheel, a peripheral to emulate "real driving." At first, it seemed like something gimmicky, but the responsiveness is spot-on and is often more fun to race with. However, it seems to be harder to become masterful at the game with the Wii Wheel; it's geared towards casual players.

Like any other Mario Kart, there is the single player Grand Prix mode to race against CPU characters for 1st place in a series of circuit races. There is also time trial and battle available, but the main single player has a lot to do with Grand Prix because one can unlock several things from doing it.

Grand Prix is a generally fun experience. Races consist of 12 contestants, all from certain Mario games (or, you can use your Mii). It wouldn't be Mario Kart without the distinct utilization of items and other tactics to get back in the lead. It can get pretty hectic when there are items careening all over the road, which certainly attributes to its overall fun gameplay. There are three levels of difficulty, with the hardest mode testing skill and patience. There has been a lot of talk about the annoyance of items used against you, particularly when one is in 1st place; especially on the hardest difficulty. While spiny blue shells (target and stun 1st place player) can be obnoxious, and have cost me several races, Grand Prix is certainly beatable with practice, trial and error, and perhaps some luck. You will be bombarded with disrupting items quite often, so prepare yourself.

Choosing from a variety of karts/bikes and characters, there always seems to be a new combination of characters and karts to mix and experiment with, although I find myself sticking to a usual two or three after I have made my choices. It all depends on what stats of the karts/bikes and characters seem to suit you best. All of the usual characters have made their appearances, like Mario and Peach, but oddly there are some characters that seem strangely added. To name a couple, Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy and Baby Peach are both characters that seem out of place, but it doesn't really detract from the overall gameplay.

If you find yourself bored of the standard single player routine, the online play makes up for any beef you have with the single player. If you want to race friends from around the world or perhaps just some random guy from Spain, the online play is for you. Or, if you want to compare your time trial records with people worldwide, you can do that, too.

One can test their skill with people from all over the world, and the game has a way of recording how good you are with your amount of "VR." Finding matches is almost instantaneous, and only on a few occasions have I had trouble getting some matches going. If you have a friend over, you can both play online through splitscreen, something I have yet to see on a Nintendo game until now. It's fun to just play Mario Kart and race with random people; I find it fun to see the different Miis people create.

If you have a Wii and have been looking for a good game to play online, Mario Kart Wii is a must-buy.

Graphics: 7/10

By now, anyone who has owned or played a Wii for a considerable amount of time knows that the graphics aren't the best, but certainly aren't bad. Mario Kart Wii's graphics are nothing special, but they aren't bad.

There is a lot of color and distinct look put into the courses, and Nintendo clearly put some effort in to making them look nice.

One may find that some things look blocky and the attention to detail isn't of the utmost quality, but the graphics are nice and aesthetically pleasing. There are no major problems in the graphical area.

Sound: 6.5/10

The soundtracks, while racing in the game, are simple tunes that aren't annoying and suit the courses pretty nicely. They give each track a distinguishable feel.

However, the main area that doesn't really work out are the voices of the racers. While some, like Mario and Luigi are not bothersome, others may get on your nerves. I find myself turning the volume down when playing as certain characters, or just playing music from elsewhere.

Put quite simply, the voices are horrendous on a majority of characters. Some of the Baby characters' laughs and giggles will remind you of the time you had to listen to a screaming child sitting adjacent to you.

They are irritating, put quite simply. Donkey Kong is one I can remember offhand that is annoying, with his odd sounding groans.

Ending Statements:

With solid gameplay going for it, Mario Kart Wii will surely keep you entertained. There are some annoyances like the terrible voice acting, but that should not stop one from enjoying the addicting racing aspects.

The difficulty on single player will range from "beginner" to "expert," so no matter who you are, one should be able to find a difficulty to suit them.

Even if you don't care about single player, the game's online portion is certainly a way to get more usage out of the Wii's online service.

Buy this game.

I give it an 8/10 (not averaged out).


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/27/08

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


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