Review by Netty500

Reviewed: 05/05/08

With a greatly executed online feature, and an above-average single player, Mario Kart Wii tops the Wii charts.

Mario Kart has officially been brought to the Wii, and is one of the best Wii titles on the market. Mario Kart Wii features your typical Mario Kart style of play, but with more new twists and features that bring every gamer to want to buy Mario Kart over and over again. This is the second Mario Kart Wii game to include online play. It also features a new way of playing the game; The Wii Wheel. The Wii Wheel, another one of Nintendo’s attempts to bring more active, family-fun style of game-playing, is surprisingly good. The sensitivity is just right which makes the game feel silky smooth, while also being very accurate. It’s fun for the casual players, but the more hardcore players will feel right at home with all the extra control options the game has. Now that the hardware is out of the way, onto the game itself.

Single player has everything to suit the lone gamer. There are 8 cups in the game, each consisting of 4 courses. In total, there are 32 courses in the, 16 of which are from older iterations of the game. The cups can be played in three different difficulties, with a fourth being unlocked after you have played a good portion of the game. 50cc, the beginner mode, is a great way for those new to the game to start their adventures. 100cc, the medium difficulty, is where the more veteran players would want to start with. When you first play 100cc, you’ll have to use bikes. Bikes are also a new feature in Mario Kart Wii, and offer a totally new way of playing the game. Bikes can drift, but can also wheelie, giving the player a small boost of speed while sacrificing handling and turning, while also making you vulnerable to an enemies bump. While this may seem like a good idea at first, learning a new playing style typically isn’t the best way to start off a medium difficulty for a game.150cc is just pure insanity, where the AI shows no mercy. They will sometimes get a quick burst of speed to catch up with you, or rubber band, leading you to say “What the…?” And also spam items after items after items. It’s very annoying considering how unfair the AI is by the time you reach this difficulty, that it almost amounts totally to being lucky. The cups are still blast, however, and the primary part of the game to unlocking most of the hidden characters.

Speaking of characters, Mario Kart Wii features the most characters the series has yet to offer. With a handful of characters at the start, you’ll begin making your way up to all the 24 characters. All the characters range in weight, from light to heavy. The weights offer a difference in the karts/bikes stats, and even the characters themselves feature hidden stats tacked onto their karts/bikes, making each character unique in it’s own way, which offers more and more ways of playing the game. Whether you’re the kind of guy that likes to go fast, or the guy that likes good handling, you’ll find someone that’s suited to fit your play style.

Single player also features a Time Trial mode. Things get interesting here as you can compete with others to get the fastest time on any of the 32 tracks. The game features a leaderboard for this mode, which is unique to the Mario Kart series. To make things more interesting, you can actually download the top racers ghost times, study their route and preferences, and then aim to beat their time using that! You can also race against random ghosts from around the world, and even upload your times and send them out to destroy others! You can also separate top times between regional and worldwide, in case you wanted to find out who the best in your country is.

The courses this time around are very diverse in appearance, and are rather unique at first glance. However, some of them fail in execution. It can be generally annoying when you’re doing great when all of a sudden a stage hazard comes your way and knocks you back into last place. Other than that, the new courses are generally the best to play. In terms of very good ones, Koopa Cape and Moonview Highway generally shine the most here, as both of them feature fast, intense gameplay. For those more old school Mario players, however, the game includes 16 maps from old Mario Kart games. Relive your best moments as you crush your opponents on some very classic courses such as N64 Sherbet Land and GBA Shy Guy Beach. While these retro tracks are fun, they’re still the more boring choices of the 32 tracks. The courses themselves are visually stunning, though the game isn’t going to be winning any awards in the graphics department. Still, the high speeds combined

As if single player wasn’t enough, the game also includes multiplayer modes, for those of you with friends. In this mode, you can race and battle, but you can also switch up the game play and add your own flavor with some customization items. Want a 150cc race with all the most powerful items in the game? No problem! Want a slower paced action 50cc with more strategically placed items? Go for it! Want no items at all, Rainbow Road, Toad only? You can do that, too! You and up to 4 players can have all the fun you want playing the way YOU want to play, and the courses you want to race on.

With all these single player and multi player features, you’d think they give up? Wrong. To put the icing on the cake, Mario Kart Wii feature online play. How good is it, you ask? Zero lag. That’s how good it is. You can even bring a friend in as a guest to play with you, too! You can either race against 11 other players from around the world or in your country, and get matched up with players around your level based on the total of your VR/BR points. VR/BR points are just a general way of ranking you on how well you play, increasing your score every time you place high and decreasing your score whenever you place low. While the racing is great, the Battle mode is really lacking, timed, and only has big, boring maps to play on. Also, it’s worth noting that, with the amount of luck this game has compared to the rest of the series, the races can get extremely frustrating. Especially if you’re trying to keep your VR up. You’ll constantly find yourself the victim of blue and red shell ownage and generally other item spam.

Mario Kart Wii may not be the best in the series in terms of what it delivered. However, the inclusion of Bikes, more characters, and a working online mode more than make up for that, making it definitely one of the better games in the series. This game is a definite buy for anyone who owns a Wii, and will long be played for the next 3-4 years.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Mario Kart Wii (w/ Racing Wheel) (US, 04/27/08)

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