Review: Mario Kart Wii
Nintendo’s latest rehash of the Mario Kart series.
I shouldn’t need to do any introduction to the Mario Kart series, everyone and their mother knows about Mario Kart. This brings me to a little story about the time I invited a mate to mine to play on my SNES, he ended up getting thrashed on Mario Kart by my mum. That’s beside the point, this is a review of the Wii version.
One of the selling points of this game is the fact it comes with the wheel peripheral. You plug the Wiimote into the middle of it and you use it just like you would a standard wheel in any driving game. This is something I was initially sceptical about, I was honestly expecting it to be as much use as a condom machine in the Vatican. So I was pleasantly surprised that it works very well, though its not always a hundred percent accurate.
Other new additions to the game include stunts, after landing a stunt you get a short speed boost. These are pulled off by flicking the wheel up whilst going over a ramp. This is one of the cases where the wheel controls always aren’t that accurate, though I found playing with the wheel on my lap helped. Motorbikes are another new addition to the game. These handle a lot like the karts, except you can pull wheelies and these give you a speed boost on the straights. This is achieved by pulling back on the wheel, in a similar manner as to how you would pull a wheelie on a bike.
The final big addition is to some of the courses themselves, some of them now have ramp sections similar to a half pipe. These are used as a means to get around an obstacle that’s on the course. So you go up the ramp at an angle and come back down with a slight speed boost. The courses also seem a bit wider than in the older games, this is because there are 12 racers on each race. So the extra width is a godsend, when it comes to close games with a lot of people.
Apart from these few things the game plays pretty much like any other previous Mario Kart game. (Double Dash being the exception, since it plays nothing like that.) This does bring its own little faults unfortunately. If you are in first place them expect to get smacked with a blue shells a fair bit, inversely if you are at the back expect to get given blue shells or being turned into a bullet bill. Most other things like the timing on the starts, getting back into the game when you get dropped off remain the same, so its easy for anyone who has played the older games to get into it.
Since the majority of Wii games are being sold towards the more â€œcasualâ€ gamer, even Mario kart gets into the act. With the wheel there’s two different control schemes, the first being automatic. This means that game puts you into a skid automatically on tight corners, but this means you don’t get the boost you would if you did it manually. The way this is handled gets rid of the â€œsnakingâ€ exploit that was prevalent on the DS version when it comes to on-line play. Though for anyone who isn’t that experienced at the games you can play just by accelerating and turning the wheel. Which is great for infants or the infirm, which appears to be the main audience for the Wii.
You will notice That I’ve mentioned the wheel controls a lot in this review without actually mentioning the wheel itself. Its a solid piece of kit, not worth the tenner Nintendo are selling it for separately mind you. It’s not even a necessity to play the game, you can play it just by holding the Wiimote on its side. You don’t even have to use the Wiimote at all, since you can use a pad if you want to and to be fair it is a tad more accurate than the Wiimote.
Mario Kart Wii is a fun game, there I said it, everything you needed to know in that one small sentence but there is a proviso on it though that you don’t take it to seriously while playing. Yeah I know that slogging though the single player with its more than a fair share of B.S. moments (especially now that there are twelve racers on the track) can be frustrating but when it’s all over and done with you will have unlocked everything for multiplayer and that’s what this game is all about baby!
The new control method is actually pretty good. It destroys any trace of ‘snaking’ which used to plague the old games (yey finally!) and you look like a total berk will playing the game so mission accomplished for Nintendo I suppose. Saying that though, while playing with the Wii Remote inside the Wii Wheel is the most fun option, the more practical is using the Retro Controller due to it being more precise and easier to pull stunts off which is a big deal in this new, almost motocross style Mario Kart.
Overall this is a fantastic addition to the Wii library which is growing in decent ‘triple A’ titles. Just make sure you have friends or an internet connection to truly enjoy the game which is the best racer on the Wii at the moment.
Secondary Score: 8/10
Now onto the bread and butter of any racing game, the courses. It doesn’t matter how well the game plays if the courses are as dull as a seminar entitled; â€œFrom cream to khaki: beige a retrospective.â€ Thankfully with this being a Mario Kart game the courses are bold and colourful. With the usual array of enemies, short cuts and craziness.
The courses are split into two distinct beasts, first off are the new courses. These work well and each of them has their own little tricks to learn, this is topped off with a brand new version of Rainbow Road, which manages to get even more manic than the past versions. Then there’s the mishmash of courses from the previous games, some of these are slightly tweaked to add in the half pipes or a new ramp added, but they still remain faithful to the original.
The game also has on-line capabilities, so you can play against strangers or friends. Unfortunately this is a Nintendo game so you have to use the dreaded friend codes. To play against your friends, the lack of voice communication is also still sadly lacking. Though rather than having to spend your time trying to type out words using the Wiimote pointer, the game has a pre-set list of phrases instead. Though the list of phrases is missing some of the things you actually want to say like, â€œI’m off to make a cuppa.â€, â€œI played played like a right spacktard in that gameâ€ or â€œI want to stab red hot skewers down your japs eye, you cunt!â€
Overall the game is well made and is graphically very good for a Wii game. The problem is its just another Mario kart game at the end of the day and it doesn’t try to do anything spectacularly different. Though the last game that tried to do that was Double Dash and that didn’t work out all that well. If you like Mario Kart games then this is for you. If you like more serious simulations then this isn’t and you’d be better off playing Gran Turismo or Forza 2.