Review by Metaknight500
Prepare to be squirted with ink, slip on bananas and fly through a tree!
I was lucky enough to pick up Mario Kart Wii on release date. Upon opening the box it came in, I discovered that it had a brand new accessory called the Wii Wheel inside it, which I guessed was used to play the game. It looks exactly like a miniaturized steering wheel. I popped my controller into the wheel, my disk into my Wii, then began to play the best racing game ever. With amazing controls, engrossing gameplay, superb wi-fi, and tons of unlockables, this is the best Mario Kart game yet.
Mario Kart Wii is the next in a series of games called Mario Kart. It's where all the characters from the popular Mario universe duke it out on several race tracks. The game is also famous for powerup fighting, as the titles each have a plethora of useful items that can be used to trip up the competition, shrink other racers or give yourself a speed boost. The games are also known for their "party" style, where up to four players can race at once. Mario Kart Wii takes that "party style" to a whole new level. Now up to 12 players at once can play over Nintendo Wi-fi connection. There are now 5 different methods to control your racer. And, after a long time, people are flocking to stores at midnight to catch the first titles.
The Mario Kart series is one of the few racing titles these days. Racers just have too many flaws. Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity had sloppy, unresponsive controls. Need for Speed: Most Wanted had repetitive missions that got very boring. But when a Mario Kart game comes out, everyone lights up in excitement. The game design is different than other racing games. One is that instead of speed, you're more focused on making that turn, grabbing that item box, and smashing that Koopa riding on a motorcycle. The game is built in that cartoonish, but fun style, that will make younger kids feel at home, while veterans of Mario Kart games will be entertained as well.
The game also has that grab-n'-go feeling that lets anyone pick up a controller and jump into the action. This is usually only present in fighting games like Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The second I pressed that Start Button, I immediately jumped into my first race, smashing and crashing into people as Bowser. With most racing games, you will start out with the weakest, slowest cars, and can only unlock other racers after you've completed most of the weak, boring storyline. In Mario Kart Wii, you have half the racers already unlocked, and they all are equally fast and have different strategies. This means that even if you can't unlock many racers, you still have the huge selection of preloaded champions.
Of course, unlocking the secret racers is only half the fun. Even though the game has no minigames to keep you occupied, the games enticing racetracks and cool-looking cars will keep most people satisfied. You will be motivated to collect every car, not because it's mandatory for fun, but you want more racecars to toy around with. The games multiple courses takes you through a seaside port town called Delfino Island, a giant volcanoe with collapsing platforms and dangerous lava spews, a jagged mountain with rushing rivers and an underwater tunnel, and a hedge maze in front of the mushroom castle. Clearly unmatchable variety.
To start off, there are 5 different methods of playing the game. There's the Gamecube controller, great for veterans. The Wii Remote alone, for people who like the easy feel of a singe stick. Then the Wii remote and Nunchuck, for people who don't like the bulkiness of the Gamecube controller but also don't like the simplicity of a single WiiMote. There's the classic controller, for players of the SNES version of Mario Kart. And finally, the Wii Wheel, which looks exactly like a miniature steering wheel, and is very fun and surprisingly easy to use. You see, this game has different methods for everyone, and each of them are fun and easy to use.
Okay, now on to the basic gameplay. As I said before, it's very simple and easy to start your first race within seconds. 11 other players will accompany you through your race, picking up power-ups and trying for the same common goal of being the top dog of the racetrack. By the middle of the race, you will be soaring through a waterlogged beach, riding up escalators at a mall, and zooming down a snowy summit, dodging Shy Guys on snowboards.
Multiplayer is just as fun as ever. Several other players can smash and crash into each other, race with each other, exchange "Ha ha! I got ya now!"s, and overall have a blast. If you get tired of racing, not a problem. There's the fun battle mode, which is all about the games powerful powerups being used to inflict as much damage as you can, racking up points.
Now I will explain the various power-up items of the game. There are offensive items like the shell that can be thrown to knock out opponents. Helpful items like the mushroom that will give you a temporary speed boost. And distraction items like Blooper that will spray ink all over your screen, obstructing your view. This is probably the only flaw of this game, other than the graphics, but graphics don't really matter. A lot of the items are impossible to avoid, and it's very annoying when a never-miss blue shell slams down, sending a shockwave that knocks you silly. The Red Shell cannot miss unless you have an item with you. The POW block cannot be avoided and will stun everybody. Thankfully, these items can be turned off. There is a lot of frustration in these items though, as they have a lot of times ruined my chances of winning a race. When a blue shell crashes down on you, followed by two red shells, followed by a bullet bill, followed by someone with a mega star, followed by the racer in 11th place.
I forgot to mention the biggest edition to the game. Wi-fi. This special kind of Internet allows players of Nintendo games to play with opponents on the other side of the world. Even though the previous Mario Kart, Mario Kart DS had Wi-fi, it doesn't even come close to this ones. You can play with up to 12 players at once, with little to no lag and very quick and easy startup. You can even check records and download ghost data from other players. The only fault is that only a few races can take place at once, so if you're not lucky you'll have to sit through a whole race. Not a problem though, as you can watch the other players from the current race through a movielike camera.
Overall, this game nails every aspect. Variety, multiplayer modes, fun factor you name it.
Buy or Rent: BUY IT! This game is great for friends, it's great alone? It's even great when you're being chased by a giant bullet while soaring through a tree, which happens in this game.
My Score: 9/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Mario Kart Wii (w/ Racing Wheel) (US, 04/27/08)
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