Review by The_Heap
"Ok, Nintendo. You've managed to suck the fun out of 3 other major titles. How about Mario Kart?"
I was considering not writing this review, as seeing from the message boards here this game is one of the biggest ripoff of $50 since Guitar Hero III; and it shouldn't be new information that this game is terrible. But, I decided to do it anyway because there hasn't been an accurate review on GameFAQs showing why it's a bad game. Why don't you come along on the angry ride that could just save you $50?
From the looks of the trailers, Mario Kart Wii has a lot going for it. For starters, the trailers look like a completely different game. In the trailers, the graphics looked like something out of a high quality PS2 game (Which is pretty good for a Nintendo racing game) and the gameplay was really smoothed out. It looked like an improved version of Mario Kart 64. I opened up my copy of Mario Kart Wii expecting something like that, and then I realized that the trailers were as misleading as a trailer for a new-generation Sonic game, or a bad comedy.
If you play this game like any other game(like "casual gamers" do), this game is pretty bad. You've got the anger-inducing 1st player in which the CPUs always seem to be 1 centimeter behind you, waiting to run you over. Not to mention the very boring new tracks they prepared for us, but at least they gave us retro tracks to quiet us down. And then you've got the items, which always conspire to make you look like you've never played a Mario Kart game in your life, because there are many more item blocks in this game, and the items are much more overpowered. It seems like every time something positive happens that something negative happens right after that to destroy you, making you lose the race.
If you play this game like a traditional racer like I did, you might as well get 11 kids to throw stuff at you and take $50 from you to simulate the experience. This game is nothing like Mario Kart DS, the most "serious" racer of the series. It's more like Mario Kart Double Dash to the 5th power.
The controls and tracks stick to what you'd expect from a Mario Kart game--pretty clear and fast turning, lots of zig-zag tracks with gimmicks. It still focuses on the obvious "Get to 1st place by racing like a a maniac" appeal that the other racers have. This time around, you can do "tricks" off ramps to give you a short boost of speed. The only thing different besides the usual mediocrity of the available characters within the Mario Kart series is the items. Since the first title on the SNES, Mario Kart has always had items to help you out so you don't end up looking like a loser in 8th place. Since this time around, each racer has it's own stats, there's a tiny bit of customization to the process of choosing a character and kart/bike, the process of item-getting seems pretty fun. I'd even admit to liking some of the items, such as the Super Mushroom and the Blooper. Items like Mushrooms can still be used to go through shortcuts, so strategy isn't completely gone. These are pretty much the only good things I could find myself to say about the game.
The character and kart roster is almost as unbalanced as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, so it's obvious here that Nintendo needs to work on basic game mechanics. Almost every newcomer to the series does not deserve it's spot in the roster. Baby Daisy, Baby Peach and Dry Bowser seem like characters that would be added in an all-Mario fighting game. My biggest complaint about the roster is the addition of Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy. Why is Rosalina, one of the deepest and most serious characters in Mario canon dressing up in biker clothes and racing around like a complete dult screaming poorly voice acted phrases like "Yahoo!" and "Alright!" It's as if Nintendo wants every character in their franchise to be a laughingstock among Sony/Microsoft fanboys. Another addition to the roster is the Miis, which can only be raced one at a time. These little disgusting blobs of casual matter seem very awkward racing compared to the other characters, and it comes off looking not too short of a gimmick. Oh, and your Mii's stats are calculated by height and weight, so if your lame Chuck Norris Mii can't keep up with the others, that's too bad.
The Karts this time around are pretty half-assed, we get basically nothing aside from the mainstay karts in the series except this ugly "Standard Kart" thing that gives you stats that aren't too good, but not too bad. But who cares? A new addition to the series is "bikes", with stats so above the roof that you might as well call it "Mario Bike Wii" because that's all you're going to be seeing online. The most popular combination is Funky Kong+Flame Runner, the fastest character in the game combined with the fastest vehicle. Who cares about the crappy acceleration, as soon as you get going items will never be able to reach you.
After your lame and probably unoriginal Character-Kart-Track combination, you're ready to start racing. You have 3 choices for control, the awkward badly-designed Wii Wheel that looks like a baby steering wheel, the hardcore-casual Wiimote+Nunchuck, or the GCN Controller. It doesn't really matter what you choose, because almost all tournaments require a Wii Wheel to participate. To prove even more gimmicky, you get a Golden Wii Wheel next to your name if you race with it regularly.
Now onto the game itself. Because of the ton of casual-newbies that will be crowding online at all times, Nintendo decided to change the amount of places in one race from 8 to 12. Not only does this stupid addition make for laggy online, crowded retro courses and awkward falls because some jerk slammed you off the side of the track, but this means that there's an even HIGHER chance of an overpowered item screwing you over.
Now onto my main complaint--in the previous games, if you played with 4 players, there would always be the one guy who's usually in 1st, the one guy who's usually in 2nd, and two bad players who would swap between 3rd and 4th. Unless they got REALLY lucky with items, the bad players would never get 1st place. In Mario Kart Wii, it will be pretty even between who gets 1st the most. This makes it impossible to see who's the best of the group, which means no competitive play. This is more like a Super Happy Casual Get Lucky No Fun Fest, which gives the game no play value beyond 3 or 4 weeks. Not worth $50 at all, not even $40.
With the few hours of multilayer fun gone, all you've got left is online. I don't understand the constant ass-kissing of this mode, it doesn't make the game any better. It's the best part of the game, but not by much. There isn't any real options, you can get into a match with your friends (taking all the fun of playing side by side and shoving the anger of losing to people you know in your face) or play in a Worldwide/National match. This is a lot less anger-evoking, because even if you get 2nd/3rd/4th/etc. as long as you do better than your average, you still get points, which are a kind of ranking. Unfortunately they're not used for much aside from minor bragging rights. Even if you have 9999 VR, you could still get matched up with a scrub that has 3000 VR. (The average is 5000 VR) Contrary to what I've heard, there is lag, but it's nowhere near as bad as Nintendo's other games. It's mostly button lag during tossing items (that seems to affect no one expect you).
While I'm not much of a "BAD GRAPHICS=BAD GAME" guy, the game's graphics are just ugly. Mario looks like they took his Double Dash model and tried to shade him up like Brawl, but he ended up coming out looking like he mixed his overalls with the blacks in the wash. A lot of the karts look over styled compared to others, same with bikes. It's really awkward when your Miis look better than anything else in the game, aside from some new tracks.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend Mario Kart Wii to anyone who has any experience with gaming. It feels too much like they took the soul out of Mario Kart, like they did with the Mario platformers, Zelda and Smash to a lower extent.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 08/18/08
Game Release: Mario Kart Wii (US, 04/27/08)
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