Review by FFXIsAstyanax

"An incredible game and the best racing experience on the Wii."

I picked up Mario Kart Wii shortly after its release and I haven't put it down since. There's so much good with this game, it's rivaled GTA4 for my playing time. Now that I've unlocked everything I can think of and grabbed a star next to my license (Sultan X), I've decided to write up a review for the game. Critiquing format borrowed from IGN.

Presentation: Nintendo does a great job integrating Wii-specific features into the newest edition of Mario Kart. Mii integration is an unlockable feature (double unlockable if you count the alternate costume) and an excellent addition to the game. Though GCN and classic controllers are supported, I must admit that 99% of my playing time has been with the standalone Wiimote with the Wii Wheel attachment. Mario Kart Wii is easily controlled with nothing but the Wiimote, whether you're navigating menus or driving your vehicle of choice. The only problem I had playing with the Wiimote was regarding the activation and deactivation of wheelies, but I soon remedied said problem. Don't listen to other reviews that bash the motion-sensitive controls -- they obviously didn't take the five minutes it takes to get acquainted with how the controls work.

Graphics: They won't knock your socks off, but they're an improvement from Double-Dash. Characters are bright and flashy, as are the vehicles they ride. Courses and landscapes look great, from the rush-hour traffic of Moonview Highway to the debris riddled Rainbow Road. Even classic courses from the SNES games have been beautifully redone in the spirit of the Wii. In all the hours I've put into the game, not once have I seen the frame rate deviate from its constant.

Sound: As always, Mario Kart Wii features an excellent soundtrack. If I'm not mistaken, it seems every track has a unique theme to accompany it. Unlike some games that strive to feature an extensive soundtrack, though, not one of Mario Kart Wii's songs gets boring or repetitive. I request in every online romp to play through some tracks – namely Maple Treeway – not only for the course itself but also to hear its music once more. If this game doesn't have an OST to sell, it surely should. Character voices aren't perfect, but they're far from mediocre. Mostly all of the voices fit their respective characters, ranging from an ever-annoying Baby Daisy (making it all the sweeter to hit her with a Bob-omb) to a hysterical Funky Kong. The only voice I can think to question is that of Donkey Kong, but even that isn't too far off base. If you should choose to race with a Mii the voice staff has you covered there, too. From my experimenting with different Miis, it seems that the voice is based on a variation of height or weight.

Gameplay: Mario Kart Wii doesn't stray far from the winning Mario Kart formula. 50-, 100-, and 150cc classes are grouped with the unlockable Mirror class to offer 4 sets of races. Though the 50- and 100cc classes are initially restricted only to kart and bike races respectively, the option to use a combination of karts and bikes in each class can be unlocked. My biggest problem with this new installment of Mario Kart is probably shared with every veteran of Mario Kart – the always annoying Blue Shell. As anyone who has enjoyed even one lap of first place in Mario Kart Wii can attest, the Blue Shell is an item that flies its way to the current leader and explodes at its destination. Once a rare item in Mario Kart 64, the Blue Shell is frustratingly common in Mario Kart Wii. It's not a completely undetectable item (I've figured out a way to tell if someone has gotten a Blue Shell and thus have a way to avoid being hit by them at all), but it makes Grand Prix races slightly more luck-reliant once you have the actual skill to get to and stay in first place. The rest of the game, however, is nearly flawless.

Lasting appeal: Expect to play this game for a long, long time. Mario Kart Wii offers numerous modes for the player to try out. For single player games, you have the option to play the offline modes Grand Prix, Time Trials, Versus, and Battle. For two to four player games, there are the options to play a Versus mode or a Battle mode. A new feature to the console Kart game is the variation on the Versus mode. Unlike the classic Versus, which plays two players in a Grand Prix style of four set races, Mario Kart Wii's Versus allows two players to select four courses out of order in a sort of jumbled Grand Prix setup. Nintendo makes you play through almost every mode to unlock everything the game offers. Time trials allow you to race against other licensed players (other save files) and even recorded Nintendo staff ghosts. If you complete a fast enough time trial for a course, you can unlock what the game calls the fast staff ghost for that course. In Grand Prix mode, your first job is to place (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) in each set of four races. From there, you can improve your standings and get 1st place – and a gold trophy – in each set of GP races. Once you've gotten gold trophies in every cup for every class, you have the task of working on your rating for each GP set. Because you have a letter or numbered-star rating for each set of GP races, your next target is starring, 2-starring, and finally 3-starring everything Grand Prix mode has to offer (so far I'm 8 from complete 2-star and 29 from complete 3-star). Once you've 3-starred every race, gotten every fast staff ghost, and unlocked everything down to the alternate Mii costume, the final frontier awaits. That is, of course, the frontier of online matches. Online matches can be played by either one or two players, with the licensed file recording victories and defeats and the second player as a guest racer. Instead of a pure place-tally record, Nintendo has gone the route of a point system that raises and drops your score based on your place and your surrounding opponents' points. As your score reaches higher levels, your wins help less and your losses hurt more. So if you think racing online is going to get boring anytime soon, you're sorely mistaken.

Mario Kart Wii has a few minor flaws, but it's more than worth its price. It's the best racing game on the Wii and one of the best games on the system overall.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/28/08

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

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