Review by PentiumMMX

"At least it's better than Diddy Kong Racing DS"

It's been years since Super Mario Kart's release, and a lot has changed for the series since then; full 3D graphics, new characters, crazy gimmicks, and the dreaded Blue Shell. Seeing as Nintendo likes money, they release a new Mario Kart for the Wii with the promise of going back to the classic 1 person per kart (Instead of having 2 people ride on 1, like in DoubleDash). However, does Mario Kart Wii even manage to stack up to the earlier games?

Graphics
The graphics look great for a Wii game and it's the best graphics in the series to date, but honestly, there isn't really much to talk about here (It's just your usual Mario style; nothing really new or exciting about it).
Graphics: 9 out of 10

Controls
Much like Super Smash Bros. Brawl before it, Mario Kart Wii supports every standard controller for the Wii; Wii Remote held sideways or inserted into the Wii Wheel, Wii Remote & Nunchuk, Classic Controller, or a Gamecube controller. The remote held sideways works ok, and the optional Wii Wheel is just uncomfortable to hold (It's way too small and cramped; it's best to just use the remote by it's self). The remote & nunchuk combo works decently; it takes some getting used to, but it works better than the wheel. The Classic Controller is probably the best controller you could use for this game; it just feels right (Especially if you've played a lot of Mario Kart 64 on Virtual Console). The Gamecube controller is probably the 2nd best; while not as good as the Classic, it's still far better than the wheel.
Controls (Remote \ Wheel): 5 out of 10
Controls (Remote + Nunchuk): 6 out of 10
Controls (Classic): 9 out of 10
Controls (Gamecube): 8 out of 10


Music \ Sound Effects
It's really nothing special like Super Mario Galaxy or even Super Smash Bros. Brawl; it's just your usual Mario Kart music and sound effects. While it is good, but really isn't anything special or noteworthy to discuss here.
Music \ Sound Effects: 8 out of 10

Gameplay (Main game)
It's a return to classic Mario Kart style...but with some new additions. In addition to the usual selection of various karts (Like in Mario Kart DS), you can also race on motorcycles, which are harder to use but more fun in the process. Like Mario Kart DS before it, the game features brand new tracks along with a selection of tracks from previous Mario Kart games, which is always a great addition. Also, there's a trick system that works like a hybrid of a Hot Wheels game with Crash Team Racing, which allows for you to gain speed boosts by simply shaking your Wii Remote or pressing a direction on the D-Pad on the Classic and Gamecube controllers. Also, 8th place isn't the worst you can do in Grand Prix now, because they increased the number of racers to 12.

...And now for the problems with the game. Item distribution is very unbalanced; while you only get certain items when you're in a certain place in the race, CPU-controlled opponents have the unfair advantage of getting exactly item they need at the moment; usually getting tons of blue shells as soon as you're in 1st place (There was one time I was hit with 5 blue shells literally seconds apart). Also, the mini-turbo system has been redesigned from scratch to prevent people from spamming it like they did in Mario Kart DS, but as a result, it just doesn't feel right anymore. Rather than start drifting and rock the analog stick back and forth like on past games in the series, you simply hold a drift until you see your tires letting off either blue or yellow sparks, then release.

While usually multiplayer is what makes Mario Kart so fun to play and keeps you coming back for more, they felt the need to ruin that as well by having rare items come up very frequently for those who are doing bad, which basically degrades the game into being all about dumb luck rather than actual skill like Mario Kart 64 was.
Gameplay (Main game): 5 out of 10

Gameplay (Online)
Unlike Super Smash Bros. Brawl, I was actually able to get Mario Kart Wii to go online without any problems at all. Like Mario Kart DS, you can choose to either play against any random opponent or with just your friends (Though you still have to exchange Friend Codes).

When I played, it ran very smoothly and had almost no lag whatsoever with 12 people from various locations around the world playing. However, when online is plagued by the same exact problems as local multiplayer (Relying more on luck than skill), the enjoyment does decrease a little. Still, at least the online mode works.
Gameplay (Online): 6 out of 10

Overall
While the game isn't bad, it's also not that great either and not really worth paying the full $50 price tag for. However, it's worth renting if you own a Wii and like the Mario Kart series.


Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 01/29/09

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


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