Review by Yedokai
"The least fun I've ever had on Wii"
If I had to describe Mario Kart Wii in a word, it would be "infuriating".
In the past, Mario Kart games have been something you can play with any of your family and friends, regardless of their skill as gamers, and have a good time. They have also always shined with that great sort of polish one comes to expect from a first party developer on their own system. That's why I'm especially disappointed with Mario Kart Wii.
Mario Kart Wii is not fun. First of all, most of the tracks are quite difficult, filled to the brim with obstacles and traps that not only slow you down, but often cause negative status effects for lengthy periods of time. You'll find that if your kart is not on the road your speed will instantly slow to all but a halt, and the slightest mistake will topple you to 12th place. To top it all off, a healthy amount of the tracks are extremely narrow and lacking guard rails, meaning that your average racer will spend a solid amount of time flying off edges and falling into the abyss below, not to mention waiting for their kart to be dropped on the track again so they can actually play the game.
As if your epic battle against the tracks wasn't perilous enough, you'll find that everyone around you is throwing around heavy weapons as well. In previous Mario Kart titles the worst thing you'd find yourself up against was red shells and the extremely rare lightning bolt, which shrunk all other racers. This time around there are tons of weapons, and they are hardly rare.
Bloopers will spray vision-impairing ink on everyone. Pow blocks will stop all racers and knock them in the air. Lightning bolts will shrink and paralyze everyone. Bullet Bills will rocket forward, decimating everyone in their path, as will racers that find a giant mushroom or a Starman. Bob-ombs create huge explosions, and don't forget the ever-irritating blue shell that will home in and destroy you should you ever actually find yourself in first place.
Granted, these items don't sound that bad. In fact, most of them sound like a lot of fun! However, that's before you remember that there are 11 other racers besides yourself, so you are constantly being bombarded with everything but the kitchen sink. It's sort of like participating in a foot race and giving everyone else sticks to beat you with. Sure, there's racing involved, but most of it is just people hitting you with sticks. Good times.
When you're already not having fun, the other flaws in the title become easy to see. The character models are blocky and stiff, resembling characters from N64 games with improved textures. A good deal of the textures in the tracks are flat and lifeless. And half the tracks in the game are just dragged in from the old Mario Kart games; the touch up jobs they've received are nothing to write home about, either.
It's not all bad, of course. There are some interesting mechanics in the game, such as tricks and wheelies that speed you up, not to mention a version of the boost system that has existed in most previous Mario Kart games. Bikes add a bit of variety to the game, as does the fact that each racer has a few different bikes and karts to choose from, but most vehicles are shared by at least 4 other racers, meaning that none of these choices feel very unique or special. There are also unlockable tracks and racers, so if you get into the game then you'll have fun earning some extras. And of course, who could forget the prospect of online play?
Of course, all the chocolate sprinkles in the world can't make a smelly rat taste good. You'll be so busy getting destroyed by various traps and falling into bottomless pits that you likely won't have time to appreciate the good parts of the game.
If you're more of a hardcore gamer, or if you can't get enough of anything related to Nintendo and their wild cast of zany characters, you might be able to enjoy Mario Kart Wii. You'll be able to cope with the crazy difficulty of the levels and might even get past the fact that every few seconds you're getting attacked in a different way. If you can, you'll be able to enjoy the mechanics that make Mario Kart Wii a solid challenge.
However, if you're a casual gamer, or if you're looking for a truly good "battle" racer, I have this to say to you: Don't let the happy cast of Mario characters and bright colorful levels fool you; strip them away and you'll be left with a game that is unpolished, unfinished, and unfun. How this game got out the door is simply beyond me.
Reviewer's Rating: 1.0 - Terrible
Originally Posted: 05/01/08
Game Release: Mario Kart Wii (w/ Racing Wheel) (US, 04/27/08)
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