Review by JordanAMeyer
"Nintendo Leads the Family-Oriented Race"
Since September of 1992, Nintendo's most famous character has been running laps around the competition in the genre of family-oriented racing games. The Mario Kart franchise has long been a standing name in the market and has, in some respects, become almost as well-known and widely-played as the mainstream Mario series itself. Mario Kart Wii is no exception to this. In fact, the game has given almost given a new high standard to the Mario Kart franchise. Adding new features, enhanced gameplay, and new courses, this game truly beats out the previous games in the series.
The gameplay of Mario Kart Wii is pretty much what one would expect from just about any modern game in the series. For those who haven't played it, the game features Nintendo's famous characters from the Mario franchise racing around various Mario-themed tracks using many different Mario-themed items. These items allow players to attempt to hinder other players/the computer in their race by knocking them off-course, shrinking them, etc. This gives the game a slightly different style from a typical racing game and helps to further it as it's own series rather than "just another racing game." They make gameplay, especially in multiplayer settings, very fun and sometimes intense.
Mario Kart Wii is very easy to learn, but not always easy to play. Just about anybody can "know" the game after about an hour of playing. It's easy to get a feel for what each item does, the general characteristics of each track, and maybe even a little bit of an idea of how each individual kart functions in this amount of time. What's not easy; however, is to become a true expert at actually playing the game. There is a moderate level of difficulty involved with various tracks and upper-level competitions in single-player mode. This is not enough to keep the game from being fun, though! It merely takes a lot of "practice" to truly clear every obstacle.
The controls of the game are very simple. In fact, they are probably more simple than any other game in the Mario Kart series when you consider how advanced this version is compared to past releases. The player is given two options for steering their kart: the Wii Wheel (often sold with the game) or a Nintendo GameCube controller. The Wii Wheel is perhaps the most common (and realistic) method of playing the game. You simply steer the car around the track like you were steering a real car. The 1 and 2 buttons on the Wii controller make up the accelerate and brake/reverse controls. The D-pad is used to launch items forwards or backwards from your player's current position. Pretty simple and very fun to learn! The Nintendo GameCube controller offers an "extra" option for people with not enough Wiimotes or Wii Wheels to go around, but is pretty "standard" to play and makes the game feel more like a traditional racing game.
The game's single-player mode is a very fun and easy way to become acquainted with the game right from the beginning. Straight out of the box, the player is given a choice of three "GP" modes to race in: 50 cc, 100 cc, and 150 cc. With each mode, the karts (or motorcycles) become faster and the competition becomes tougher. In each of these modes, the player is given a choice of eight "cups" in which they compete in a series of four races for a chance at a top three placing. Aside from the GP mode, there is also a unique Battle mode in which the player competes for coins.
Multiplayer mode on this game is probably what makes it most fun for just about any gamer. With it's small learning curve, the game is great choice for families and offers a lot of fun even without having unlocked every single character and kart available. Up to four human players are allowed in standard multiplayer, but it is also possible to take two players online via Nintendo WFC. Or, for those who want the experience of human players but don't have anybody to play with, it is possible to go online and play against other humans on Nintendo WFC as a single player. In online play, a "VS" rating is given to your character and you are matched up to your Mario Kart equals according to this rating. This offers some intense competition and addictive fun!
Mario Kart Wii offers a wide variety of characters to choose from. All of these characters are, of course, from the Mario franchise. More characters are unlocked as the player progresses through the game and eventually a full grid of just about any Mario character imaginable is available. The grid of available characters expands as more are unlocked, so the game is bound to keep the player guessing just how many more can be added!
The biggest problem with gameplay in Mario Kart Wii is most likely the lack of variety. Yes, it's true that there are thirty two courses to chose from; however, these courses get old very quickly after the gamer has become somewhat experienced with Mario Kart. Nintendo somewhat redeems themselves for this by making time trials available online that mix up the usual routine and offer new obstacles as a contest, so this is still not enough to hold the game back from being interesting provided that the gamer has a Wi-Fi connection available.
One more interesting thing to note is that half of the courses available on Mario Kart Wii are remakes of courses from other games. This is two-sided coin. One side screams "NOSTALGIA!" to the avid Mario Kart gamer. The other side says, "Haven't we done this to death!?"
A first glance at the graphics of Mario Kart Wii may lead a "hardcore" gamer to think that the game looks childish; however, it is important to note that the art style used in the game is typical of the Mario franchise and thus ties the game to it's parent series. The courses available in the game are very colorful and each one offers a unique experience to the gamer. The artwork in the game ties nostalgia with creativity and makes the game very worthwhile to play from a graphics standpoint.
The music in this game is extremely catchy and is bound to be stuck in your head at some point after playing this game. Yet, it seems that there is something missing from this part of the game. The other sounds of racing seem to take away from the rich musical scores and therefore the music doesn't leave as strong of an impression as it probably should.
This game has much to offer the gamer and, although some courses may get old, always seems to offer a fresh appearance and gameplay experience to the gamer. This is true even if it's your 100th hour of gameplay (the author of this review would know this quite well). It's a game that, once you're hooked, you'll keep coming back to it as long as you own it!
This game offers so much to any level of gamer. Whether you're a hardcore gamer or a family with a couple of small children, Mario Kart Wii has much to offer and is sure to give you countless hours of fun!
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/05/11
Game Release: Mario Kart Wii (US, 04/27/08)
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