Review by del20nd
"Weak, man... just plain weak."
There are three things I thought I could always count on: death, taxes, and Mario Kart. Death will ALWAYS be looming. Taxes will ALWAYS have to be payed. The Mario Kart series will ALWAYS deliver a hardcore, thrilling, *****-to-the-wall game full of replay value and ultimate fun. I guess something finally had to give, and unfortunately I'm still filing my W-2s...
Now I want a show of hands out there. How many of you are NOT aware of Nintendo's Wii motion gimmick? Nobody at all? Thought so. In this weeks installment of "Well-intentioned Wiimote Theatre," Nintendo decides to show off the Wiimote's accelerometer by having you manipulate the controller as if it were a steering wheel! By popping it into the bleach-white steering wheel attachment (one comes with the system, having friends or relatives costs extra) your remote is now an awkward, free standing wheel with about as much control as that implies. To top it off, the tiny buttons that the Wiimote sports makes trying to actually enjoy the game even less possible.
After driving through the levels like a wayward drunkard for an hour or so, I finally decided to resign to the ol' Gamecube controller. If it ain't broke don't fix it, right?
For some reason beyond my understanding, Nintendo decided that its previous button setup (in Double Dash) was inadequate. Instead of putting the item button in that pesky, easy to reach Y/X button spot, it is now conveniently placed in the control of your steering hand via L button. Sounds like a tiny change? Well it is on a developers standpoint, but for me it simply screws everything up. I understood this option on the N64 setup simply because it was cool to shoot shells at people with a trigger, but with the Gamecube setup it was completely unnecessary. Then, of all things, they have the guts to taunt you with a "Gamecube controller" option screen. Obvios option would be a toggle between "classic" and "new" setup. Heck, throw in a "custom" while you're there too! When you open the option screen for the controller, if you could even call it that, all it allows you to do is toggle rumble on and off! As if anyone in the history of the world has decided they dislike the rumble feature.
This brings me to another point. The game is absolutely DREADFUL in the field of options. For all the crap it gets, Double Dash does let you choose such things as item appearances, amount of laps, and yes, even rumble toggle. Somehow these nice things didn't make it to Wii. On top of this, you are now forced to compete for a Cup in multiplayer mode. This means that every five races, you HAVE to go through a closing ceremony, watch the winners get a trophy, and reselect your players/karts. Who thought this was a good idea?! It would be good as an option, but unfortunately it is the only option. Then there's the new, useless options they threw in like the "manual/automatic" selection screen. Much to my chagrin, this does not mean that Mario gets to operate a stick shift vehicle. It simply allows the computer to take over all the steering tricks, thus allowing even 3-year old Billy and Great aunt Tilly a shot at the gold. It also sucks all of the tact right out of the game! My brain can't help but scream "lazy" over and over when it comes to the options in this game.
The graphics are a bit, well, its hard to say... On one hand, there is allot of detail. On the other, there is ALLOT of detail. Too much I want to say. It actually detracts from the game, because everything is ridiculously over-done and glossy looking. Plus, when you play 4-player it will get CHOPPY! I don't just mean a little, either. N64 must be rolling in its grave! Somehow, I thought that this was something Nintendo had gotten over. Had they simply removed some of the eye-candy in the tiny split screens where you can't see it anyway, this wouldn't be an issue. Again, lazy.
Oh, and remember what I said about Wii gimmicks? This game has the other big one too! Everything, from the controller wheel to the menu selection, is completely whitewashed and minimalist! And disgustingly cutesy, above all else. Hmmm... any more gimmicks? Right! Your Miis are incorporated into the game as bystanders, posters, toll operators, and eventually playable characters. I'm sorry, but this makes the game feel allot less like a Mario Kart game to me.
One thing this game will deliver on, if you really look for this kind of thing, is playable characters and Karts. For the lack of options everywhere else, they sure don't disappoint here. Unfortunately, I really didn't care about being able to play as King Boo on the scooter with the hatchet in the Study... Less characters really never effected gameplay in the previous Karts that much, because there were enough light, middle and heavyweights to go around. If not, you switched every few turns and learned something new. But hey, they have the characters now and I guarantee that most of them will be back in the next installment. I won't go up or down on this. I'm always Yoshi or Luigi anyway.
By the way, there's wi-fi multiplayer now. You all know what this is. I guess this is cool, but the game is so overwhelmingly sub-par that it's really not that big of a deal. If you want some Mario Kart wi-fi action without the fuss and muss, might I suggest the infinitely better Mario Kart DS! It does everything right that the Wii version does wrong, AND you get the option to verse some guy in Japan with much more skill than yourself! Plus, you get to make an emblem!! Yay!
Oh, here's a strictly good thing. They didn't not bring back the jump feature. Let this be a precedent for the next, better Mario Kart installment to never abandon this feature again.
Which brings us to the trilling conclusion. Should you buy? Maybe if you're a Mario purist who wants the complete set of Karts. Should you rent? Not if it involves paying real money. What I suggest is that you find a friend who is a Mario purist who wants the complete set of Karts and kindly ask to borrow. This person will most likely agree because he / she will not be busy using it. I urge this borrow just so you can experience the overall disappointment without being set back monetarily. I know it's hard to believe at first, but this Mario Kart installment, with all it's potential, was a washout. Sorry.
I'll be busy apologizing to my SNES for trying to shelf it if you need me.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 01/26/10
Game Release: Mario Kart Wii (US, 04/27/08)
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