Play Time: ~ 4 hours
Progress: All gold in 50cc cups, half of the golds in 100cc
Well. Mario Kart is always one of the most anticipated releases on new Nintendo consoles. Everyone always waits for the Zelda game, the Mario game, the Smash Bros. game, and then the Mario Kart game. Mario Kart DS was arguably one of, if not the, best game in the series’ past . It had nice new karts, both cool new and old tracks, and a couple new item changes to keep you on your toes. Mario Kart Wii surely introduces a ton of new things: sweet new characters, the use of motorcycles, some awesome unlockable karts, and a full set of new courses with the option of choosing some of the greatest from the past. But, is this alone enough to make this game the best Mario Kart ever?
Mario Kart Wii (MKW)’s graphics are by no means breath-takingly awesome. For Mario Kart games, they don’t need to be. But, I do think that they could’ve done a little more work on the characters. Everyone has a lower-than-normal polygon count. This is noticeable, but not enough to detract from gameplay. Otherwise, the courses are looking nice. The old courses have better textures and the like to help with consistency between the new and retro courses. Items and effects are also as good as they need to be, but certainly do not try to press the bar. I think that the screenshots of this game usually do it too much justice. When playing on an HDTV, the flaws are readily noticeable. I won’t say anything about aliasing because that is pretty much expected in all Wii games now and is a given. Overall, I give the graphics a “fine”.
I paid special attention to the sound this time around, probably due to the awesome job Nintendo did on the sound for Brawl. Surprisingly, Nintendo still put a lot of effort into the sound for Mario Kart. There are very decent new tracks coupled with both retro remix and regular retro tracks that add a lot to the game. No complaints at all with the sound. The sound gets a “great”.
The only control method that I have used is the wiimote (not in the wheel). The wheel really isn’t required, and for most people over about 4 or 5 years old, it doesn’t add anything to the game experience. The controls can be very accurately described by saying that they’re like Excite Truck’s controls. Tilting or turning the wiimote to the left or the right will steer your kart/bike. The karts do feel decently unresponsive until you get used to the controls. The bikes feel about how you think the karts should. Thus, they work well. Choosing a different kart or bike model can actually effect how it handles in a very noticeable way, so pay attention to their stats. 2 is to accelerate, 1 and B serve interchangeably as the brake/reverse/slide buttons. A gives you a view of what’s going on behind your kart, and the D-pad controls items. Forward
on the control pad will shoot the items forward, back will shoot them backward, and to drag single shells/bananas behind you, you can use either left or right. You can get an extra boost when just leaving anything that serves as a ramp by giving the wiimote a good shake or twist. It also looks pretty fancy. If you’re driving on a straightaway with a bike, you can give the wiimote a shake downwards to get some extra speed by doing a wheelie. This speed comes at a cost, though, because it becomes terribly difficult to control the bike properly. Controls get a “fine”.
This is pretty much the best mode of the game. You can go through any of your standard Grand Prix, Time Trials, etc. Pretty much the basic single-player Mario Kart package. This is also the mode through which you unlock most of the game’s myriad unlockables including fancy new characters (spoiler example: KIng Boo), new karts (spoiler example: Blue Falcon, yes, that one). There are some actually bitchin’ characters, but I won’t spoil any more for you. The races get hard enough to be frustrating at times, so you won’t be sad that it isn’t occasionally challenging enough. A lot of the unlockables are a good deal harder to unlock than they were in past games. Single-player gets a “good”.
This, this is where the game does not shine. Yar. Mario Kart has always primarily been a multiplayer game at its core, just like Smash Bros. You’d expect that is there was ONE thing that Nintendo wouldn’t mess with, it would be this. Well you’re wrong. Nintendo successfully gimped it this time around. Have a hardcore Mario Kart-playing friend who you want to race one-on-one to find out who really is the best? Nintendo says: “Too bad.” You can only play in Grand Prix mode when racing in multiplayer, albeit in two flavours, team racing and not-so-team racing. As far as I can tell, though, there’s no way to play with less than 12 players at once. The computer always fills all of the empty spots with bots. How about good, old, reliable, awesome Battle Mode? What if I want to go around with just three of my friends and have a battle to the death on the actually pretty decent re-imagining of Block Fort from Mario Kart 64? Again, you can hear the echoes of “Too bad!” coming from Nintendo’s HQ. Always 12-player, always red/blue team battle, Battle Mode would have been bad enough, but they didn’t stop there. Now, all battles are the equivalent of time battles instead of the balloon stock battles that were standard on the other incarnations of Mario Kart. The two sides compete to see how many hits they can get on each other during the time limit, and then whichever has the most wins. If you run out of balloons ’cause you’re a n00b, no worries, here’s three more, and another three more. You don’t run out of balloons, so you can bone your team quite easily. I guess fun is now too combative to be put into a Mario Kart game. They could’ve, at the very least, given us an option to turn suck mode on or off. Multiplayer gets a “die of frustration”.
+ Very decent, occasionally awesome new tracks
+ Choice of bikes is nice
+ Great new unlockable characters and karts/bikes
+ Okay graphics and good sound
- Multiplayer options are dumb
- Multiplayer is gimped
- They killed my Battle Mode!!!
- Controls can be shaky (pun)
- On top of everything, people still somehow cheat online
With everything considered, I still give this game an overall: