Review by badplanetkevin
"Very nice update with few minor gripes."
My Personal Mario Kart History
I got very excited when I heard about the Wii release of the latest Mario Kart franchise. I remember getting Mario Kart 64 when it came out and had to buy an SNES and the original game too so I could reminisce about it as well. Mario Kart 64 was a landmark game to me being the 1st 3D Mario Kart. I played that game for days on end. We'd get a couple of friends and talk smack playing not only the racing but the battle as well. The battle stages in the 64 version, I believe, have not been trumped and still remain the best battle stages I have ever played in a Mario Kart game.
My work increased around the time of Double Dash and I didn't get to play that one as much. When the DS version came out, I got a copy for myself and played it quite a bit, but nothing compared to the N64 version. This one, to me, is very close to the feeling I use to get with Mario Kart 64...and that's saying something.
We quickly opened up all the tracks the first day and was very happy with the new stages. The "retro" stages however, could have been better. Don't get me wrong, I did like the stages they picked, but I felt, since the DS had pretty much JUST came out not too long ago, that none of it's stages should be considered "retro". Aside from that, it was awesome to see some of the stages from the SNES, Gameboy Advance, N64 and GameCube. The battle mode, however, I was sorely disappointed with as far as stage selection goes.
On the "retro" stages, it was awesome to see the Skyscraper stage from N64. They didn't include a "block" retro stage because it was redone for the "new" stages. The newer stages all have pretty good feel to them and Funky Stadium and Delfino Pier are favorites in this household. The biggest complaint in the battle stages for me was 3 stages that were basically the same just different sizes. I was so hoping that they would bring in the castle battle stage. It was the favorite on the N64 and would have, I think, upped the fun factor just a notch with it's 3 tiers that added for more wait and strike moments. Fodder for smack talk is always good.
I'm not really a fan of the "trick" feature that was added. It's not hard to get use to, but just seems a little out of the "Mario Kart" realm and into the "Tony Hawk" realm. I started over on my Double Dash here recently though and found myself subconsciously shaking the controller when I hit a ramp. It becomes second nature when you get use to it and after a little time playing you learn which places to do it and which will send you shooting too far.
The first time I played this one, I tried with the Wii Wheel. It was the big hype, so of course everyone here had to see what it was about. For someone who has never played Mario Kart, this may actually be better than trying to remember buttons (especially for older people). We each took turns playing it and found it a little hard to get use to since we were all use to using the same basic controller scheme for 3-4 games now. We started it on Automatic (which is the non-drifting mode) and I was disappointed. I assumed that the drifting was taken out of the game. We don't read instructions to games here because it's just more fun to figure it out...especially on Mario Kart. Once we realized it hadn't and just been changed to "Manual", it was on. The original thought, was that like any other racing game, Auto and Manual meant shifting...not drifting.
I personally am not a big fan of the Wii Wheel and have used the Nunchuck/Wiimote scheme the whole time. It feels very natural holding your control & firepower in one hand and gas & drift in the other. I do think it's awesome that Nintendo has opened up the controller selection to include the GameCube controller, Classic controller, Wiimote only and Wiimote/Nunchuck. This was introduced in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I have a couple friends who are so use to the GameCube, that for the purposes of Battle Mode, they used the GC controller. It adds alot of diversity to the game when you can have 4 different controllers for 4 different gamers.
Mario Kart has always been fun for everyone who picks up a controller. This reiteration is no different. The weapons that come up always give the losing player the advantage. Like all Mario Karts, the aggressiveness of the CPU characters increases with the speed of the Carts. 50cc is made for people to learn on. You can pretty much toast everyone by almost a lap in this mode. 100cc gets a little more challenging. The CPU starts to get a little more aggressive and beating them by a large lead becomes more difficult. They tend to get a little dirty in this one, hitting you with multiple weapons right after another, but nothing like how bad they treat you on 150cc and Mirror Mode. In these later classes, they treat you bad...and I don't mean just bad, bad. I mean they are down right dirty. I honestly don't remember ever getting a last place because everyone in line hit me with a weapon. That's just not right and at times made the game very frustrating. It never was enough to make me stop though. After I finish this review, I'll probably get back on it.
I haven't played much online because of my broadband that I get here. I get dropped in the middle of races every 2-3 races and that gets frustrating. I think you have to have a fairly decent speed service to play consistently online and mine goes below that because of where I live. It's sad too, because what I have played was really fun. I just don't know anyone who has this game and a Wii so I have to race strangers...which is still just as fun. Seeing the Golden Wiiwheel and the stars on peoples names made me want to have the same. There are a lot of little things on this game that will have you going for hours on end.
Multiplayer is nice in the sense that you can race/battle solo or on teams. The team action is pretty good and has a nice variation in that weapons from your own team do not affect you. Only items dropped or thrown from an opposing team will do damage. It is very nice to be hit with a blue turtle shell and it not affect you.
Graphics & Sound
I've always been a fan of the music in the Mario Kart series, they always just seem to fit. To me, the one that plays during the GBA Bowser's Castle stage is the coolest and seems a little out of place for Mario Kart.
I have a basic 27" Toshiba TV and have yet to upgrade to the HDTV. I have seen this on an HDTV at the store and it looks beautiful and crisp. This game plays well on both types of TV but it made to be played on a widescreen HDTV. I can't wait to see multiplayer on one...as I hope to be getting one soon.
If you have yet to buy this game, and are a fan of Mario Kart or just silly fun, go out and get it today. It's fun for the whole family and my 7 year old can kick my butt in it making it equally fun to play whatever your experience.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 06/16/08
Game Release: Mario Kart Wii (US, 04/27/08)
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