Review by shenmuer2001

Reviewed: 07/29/09

Mario Kart Wii is the "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" of video games

What is up with Michael Bay? How is one man able to create films that are universally pandered by film critics but yet loved by the movie-going public? We'll admit (regrettably) that at one point of our life we were lumped into the latter group of people. We loved Armageddon (although admittedly this could be due to the combination of a sugar high from eating too many licensed Armageddon candy bars (to our defense they did contain pop-rocks!) and recently elevated levels of testosterone in our young teenage bodies (Liv Tyler was hot!, in other words)), and although we did not see Pearl Harbor, we convinced ourselves that it could not be too bad because we "had seen and enjoyed Armageddon" (history has since proven that our beliefs were misguided).

We were not truly aware of the flaws found in the general American public, and any other nation that has a fervent love of Michael Bay films, until the horror that is the Transformers series was released on the world. Transformers merely bored us. Yes, we cringed slightly any time that an African-American character appeared on screen, but we forgave the movie for that. We were bored, but not offended. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, however, could not be that easily forgiven.

To put it bluntly, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is a horrible movie. Part of the reason why it is so awful is that it constantly insults its audience. Robots talk in "African-American vernacular" (to put it nicely so as not to be censored). An old pirate robot farts (ha!). Dogs hump each other. The mother (who, when combined with her husband, create one of the most painful to watch duos in the movie) eats pot brownies and proceeds to act like an idiot. There are dozen of throw away gag characters that add nothing to the film. The movie takes these characters and creates the most painfully long two-and-one-half hours that you will experience. We want to approach Michael Bay and ask him, a la Joseph Welch, if he has "no sense of decency."

The long-winded point that we're trying to make is that the public will buy into any garbage if the garbage is a part of a series and the creator of said garbage is well known. We feel that this has happened to the Mario Kart series. We are not ashamed to admit that we hold Mario Kart for the Super NES in the highest regard. We loved and still love feeling the terrain under our feet in the various beach and ghost house levels and seeing the characters spin out of control when we throw koopa shells at them. We also still love the game's soundtrack and listen to Koopa Beach's theme often.

Mario Kart 64 does not have as strong a nostalgic tug on our heartstrings, but we believe that it is the greatest game in the series. We found the courses to be endearing and the battle mode to be some of the most console gaming fun as we've ever had with friends. Mario Kart: Double Dash entertained us for about two weeks, but found that after earning every trophy that we washed our hands of it.

Mario Kart Wii gave us no delight. We first thought that this game was flawed when we looked at the control scheme. For all six of my dear readers who actually have never heard any information about this game, this game includes the "revolutionary" Wii wheel, which is another piece of plastic that you can snap your Wii remote into to pretend that you're doing something other than waving your arm in the air like an idiot. We would be more impressed by the Wii wheel if we had never driven a car in our lives. This is not the case. This leads to a disconnect while playing the game; i.e., the go-kart on the screen does not feel or drive like a real car does, which causes us to steer like a three-year-old would if you asked him to pretend he or she is driving a car. While this may work in a large city in Japan, where many people will never experience driving a car during their lifetime, it does not work in a country like America (or the UK or Australia or any European country, for that matter). Thus, any player with common sense or a desire not to lose every match that they play will inevitably use a classic or Gamecube controller and, in doing so, remove the novelty from the game. (As a side note, we thought that having to shake the Wii wheel to gain extra speed boosts was nothing short of stupid).

We mentioned a "desire not to lose" in the previous paragraph and would like to take a moment to reflect on this sentiment. A long time ago, during an age in which we older gamers would call "The Golden Years," Nintendo games were difficult. Really difficult. We're not just talking about games that had so many programming flaws that it was literally impossible to win. We're talking about Super Mario Bros., a game in which some children could only dream about finding that "other castle" in which the princess lie. In order to reach the end of those games, the player needed to develop the skills and reflexes to make it through the game. This created a hierarchy of gamers. Some players would always win; others would always lose. Over the years, Nintendo decided that in order for everyone to have fun, the playing field had to be equaled. This is greatly shown in the newest Mario Party and Mario Kart games. It doesn't matter how well you play, since you can easily be knocked back six places by one item. This leads to many "cheap victories" that leave no one satisfied.

Since the victories seem to be distributed by the toss of a die, it doesn't matter whether you play online or offline. True, playing against real people may offer more of a challenge than playing against the computer, but as long as you have a modicum of skill you'll find your ranking evening out over time. Who wants to play a game knowing that the best that they'll become is average? We also find it disconcerting (ironically, the fifth link found on Google at the time of writing this review for disconcerting is an article about the Wii) that you can race against five Funky Kongs and four Rosalinas at the same time.

This, as logic dictates, must lead to a discussion about the characters in this game. Okay, we understand that there is an established character base. Yes, Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool (as we shall always call her), and Bowser are staples to the roster. We also allow for characters such as Yoshi, Wario and Toad to be included in the mix to create choices for the player (do I want a fat character that is harder to shake up or a small character that has better acceleration?). But, for the love of all things good, Nintendo, please stop adding characters to the roster for the sake of adding characters to the roster. We can forgive adding Rosalina if only because we find her to be a more fascinating princess than Toadstool or Daisy, but Baby Daisy? Dry Bowser? We're still reeling over the addition of Baby Luigi. Who's going to show up in the next game, Baby Dry Bowser and classic Mii?

We suppose we should comment on some other aspects of the game, but we're at a loss for words. The layout of the levels is forgettable (we couldn't think of descriptions for the tracks using anything but the most basic of words: mall, tree, Bowser's castle, something with snow, perhaps?). The music is as equally forgettable; it sounds like the same squeaks and blats that filled the previous title (go to youtube or the official website for an example).

We will try to list some positives, but that might be difficult. We did enjoy seeing all of the Miis that we created show up in various tracks, especially in the before-mentioned mall course. We think that we found the motorcycles (or whatever the game calls them) to be "refreshing," but we're not sure. As we honestly can't think of anything else, we'll terminate this section.

This paragraph sums up and concludes the review. It's okay if you can't be bothered to read everything above. We admit that we can't trudge through the average GameFAQs review; we can't even be bothered to re-read our own reviews! For those of you just joining us, welcome! We find Mario Kart Wii to be, like Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, offensive. Of course, it's a different kind of offensive. It offends us that all players have to be normalized so that the strong can't dominate in the name of fun. It offends us that the courses and music are completely forgettable and that the characters are getting more ridiculous with each installment. We are most offended by the fact that in spite of all of its flaws, the public still gobbles this stuff up and praises it as genius. We spend the days that the sequels of Mario Kart and Transformers inevitably come out in dread.

Rating:   1.5 - Bad

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

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