Mario Kart Wii


Taking the tried and tested Mario Kart formula and bringing it to the Wii , whilst still making it feel fresh was probably going to be a difficult task for the team at Nintendo, but what has been produced is an immense package. There are a wealth of new things thrown in, but you always feel like you are playing Mario Kart, the formula hasn’t changed one bit.

You will still hurtle around colourful and well designed circuits against other Ninty characters lobbing shells and bananas at each other, but this time, you may be on a motorbike, or you may be racing against Rosalina, who you have never raced against before. You may also be used to using a controller, but this time you are using the newly bundled Wii wheel for a more authentic experience. What I loved about this game is that no matter what new things you come across, you never feel like you are playing anything but Mario Kart.

The one player mode will have you competing for cups in traditional MK fashion at 50, 100 and 150cc marks respectively, followed by the stupidly difficult mirror cup where all of the tracks are flipped horizontally. This doesn’t really make it any harder, but the computer characters become incredibly ruthless. Completing cups and gaining medals opens up new characters and tracks for you, and just in case you were wondering, yes, there is an awful amount to unlock.

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The inclusion of classic tracks was a great idea, pat on the back for you Nintendo. Whilst the new tracks are absolutely fantastic and vibrant (arguably some of the best tracks from MK yet), there is nothing like taking a trip down memory lane on Bowser’s castle N64 or even the one SNES track they decided to include.

It’s nice to see a wealth of characters and weapons as well. You won’t struggle to find a character to like like you may have used to, and you get to pick a car or bike that suits your liking as well.
Whilst I welcome the idea of lots of new weapons, most of the additions of this incarnation feel a bit cheap. There’s now a bullet that, if you are right at the back of the pack, will speed you right on through past everyone else for a few seconds or so. Whilst this makes things more accessible for MK newcomers, it feels like the game rewards you for being last and punishes you if you are first. Another example of this is that you simply cannot avoid the first place shell anymore, and it’s incredibly frustrating to win the entire way round a circuit, only to be blasted by two first place shells at the last second, and then to be taken over by a bullet who was in last place the majority of the way round. Ok, so it could be worse but it is a little annoying.

Controlling the characters has never really felt easier. You can drive your kart with the Wiimote and nunchuck combo, a gamecube or classic controller, or the bundled-with-the-game Wii Wheel. The wheel is a very good addition and makes the MK experience feel more fresh, and is certainly hilarious when playing against mates. You aren’t just restricted to left and right tilts as well, wheelies on bikes and tricks are performed with a flick or push of the wheel, and it feels great.
The gamecube or classic controller would be my next bet, as it feels, well, more classic. If you’ve played MK before then you’ll know what to expect. Hold A, tilt the stick to move and you’ve got all you need.
The Wiimote and nunchuck combo isn’t by all means bad but it’s certainly my least favourite and the least intuitive. Accelerate and do tricks with the Wiimote and tilt the stick on the nunchuck to steer. It’s not awful, it certainly works but there’s just something about having your hands that far away from each other whilst driving that doesn’t feel quite right.

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Driving is now split into two modes – Automatic and Manual transmission, or what I like to denote as “easy” and “hard” modes. Automatic makes your life a load easier, the karts are responsive and you do not need to worry about any kind of cornering, though you miss out on the benefits of manual.
What manual offers is the ability to powerslide and gain boosts, if you can control your character long enough for this to happen. The karts feel more sluggish and less responsive, but if you can nail the control patterns then you will be way ahead of the pack, getting all of the gold medals you deserve. Only experts need apply.

Where Mario Kart stands out though, and always will, is the multiplayer. There are few better games you can play with your friends. Grab 4 controllers, a buttload of beer or whatever the hell it is you like to drink and play Mario Kart into the early hours of the morning and you simply will not forget it. It’s an impossible experience to describe but the Wii incarnation simply does not falter in this respect.

Ok, that’s a bit of a lie, the battle mode simply isn’t what it used to be, there are now far too many weapons, and the addition of most of them feels a bit cheap. That, and the arenas brought into the game are awful. Really, stonkingly bad. Where’s the classic tracks in this mode eh? Would have killed for N64 Block Fort all over again! Apparently not though. Your best bet with this game is to stay away from the battle mode because it isn’t as fun as it used to be.

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Now onto the coup d’état…the reason you need this game in your life, and that is the online mode. Racing against 11 other people, all from different countries over the internet? Err… Yes please. Do you have any idea what it feels like to beat 2 people from France, 3 from Italy, 4 from the USA and 2 from Japan all at the same on an international phenomenon like Mario Kart? Put quite simply, it’s incomparable.
And it’s not just the idea of it, it’s the fact that it works so bloody well. No lag, no annoying teenagers screaming down a microphone at you, there is nothing to not like about the online mode.
Online leaderboards help the situation as well. Think you’re the best at Mario Circuit? Play against the ghost data of the best racer in the WORLD. I promise you, you won’t win.

If you have a Wii, you need this game. Please go and buy it, you won’t regret it. The online mode is worth the asking price alone, but there’s a damn good game there if you’re willing to put the time in.

I find it very hard to fault Mario Kart Wii. I’m going to go out on a limb, probably offend numerous Mario Kart purists and say that it is the best incarnation of the racer yet. Boasting tracks old and new, a ridiculous amount of characters, and an incredible online mode, MK Wii for me is almost “Mario Kart’s Greatest Hits”.

Hi-Scores: Online mode is INCREDIBLE, Multiplayer fantastic as always, new tracks are fantastically designed.

Lo-scores: Cheap new weapons, punishes you for being good, battle mode is simply not worth touching.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

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