Mario Kart Wii
Mario Kart. So many memories, it's a classic little racing series. Some people might say it's more for little kids who aren't really old enough or skilled enough to play "big boy racers" like F-Zero or wipEout, but even adults find this simple, yet frantic gameplay to be quite enjoyable and addicting.
Mario Kart Wii is the latest installment in the ever popular franchise, and what does it bring to the table? Well, all new tracks of course, new racers, and new controls as well as new items. Is it the best yet?
So you're probably wondering about the new controls. Well, since this is Mario Kart Wii, they're obviously going to utilize motion controls. Using the Wii Mote by itself, you simply tilt it back and forth to steer your racer. The game also comes with a periphiral known is the Wii Wheel. As the name implies, it's a wheel that you slide the Wii Mote in, and now you can simulate driving. Honestly, at first I thought it sounded really stupid and gimmicky. And after playing with it, I must admit I liked it. It added a whole new level of fun to the game, and makes it seem almost like playing Mario Kart Arcade GP, an arcade exclusive Mario Kart game featuring Pac Man characters (too bad this never saw a home console release). Of course, you can also use the Wii Mote and nunchuk in which you Joystick on the nunchuk steers. Or if you don't like the Wii controls, you can of course use a GameCube controller. All the controls work fine though, and I ultimately settled for the Wheel as my favorite. Another aspect I liked is a behind the character view. Press the A Button on the Wii Mote (Z on GameCube) and the camera will switch to being in front of the character so you can see behind you. This is good for if someone is trying to sneak up on you and you can see on coming items, and even though it seems small, it actually helps alot.
The character roster was also a treat. With the exception of Petey Pirahna and Paratroopa, all the racers are back from Double Dash and some. But as long as my main, Koopa Troopa is there it's all good.
Track wise, some of the new tracks are really over the top, and that I loved. 16 all new tracks combined with the retro tracks of the past versions, from SNES to DS. While the new tracks in this game were great, I was also really glad they brought back some of the past tracks; the was the retro tracks were recreated were also amazing. Of course they wouldn't change anything, but they have been given a graphical facelift to Wii standards of course and they look even better than they do in their respective games. In my opinion, this game probably has the best track design. Some of the tracks are full of hazards, but to me, that only ups the vigor and makes it even more frantic and fun. And as you might expect, the battle modes are also back.
Item wise, we get all the classic items as well as a few new. There is the Mega Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros that turns your racer into a giant, which speeds you up and lets you knock over the competition...and then there are cheap ones. This is where most people critique the game, and some of the items are extremely interferring and problematic.
Although the racing in this game is fun...it seems to put an unusual emphasis on combat, as well.
It seems you are getting bombarded with something every two minutes, and to be honest, they made it to where it can interfere badly with the actual race at times. If you are in first...you better expect a Blue Shell. The Blue Shell for those who live under a rock, is a blue spiny shell that will home in on the racer in first place and take them out. The problem is that it's not nearly as rare as it used to be. In Mario Kart 64, Blue Shells were rare. Even in Double Dash they weren't as prominent. But here, you'd be lucky not to have one during a race.
Then there is the Pow block, which knocks out all racers and makes them spin out, which is another thing; in past Mario Kart games, you take a hit, and then it's over. It causes a little delay, but you're back racing again. In this game, you take a hit, you fly into the air, you spasm out for ten seconds, you slowly regain your momentum, you're back to normal only to take another hit a minute later. Even slipping on a banana peel is more dramatic than it used to be. In this game, you slip on a banana peel and you spin out for five seconds, then you spasm out for another ten seconds, you recover, you slowly regain your momentum and get going again only to be struck by lighting or something. Meanwhile, everybody else zips by in a flash. What's worse is that this only happens to you, as it seems the computer AI can take a hit like a champ. They get hit but they're back on your tail five seconds later. It almost makes you scared to take first place.
In this game, you can't comfortably ride in 1st because you're in fear the whole time something will happen to you, and 98% of the time, it does. I've heard some players will ride in 2nd and then take 1st when the race is almost over, but you shouldn't have to do that. Now some items like the Bullet Bill are designed to give a big helping hand to the losing players, and sometimes it does make a difference, and sometimes it's cheap. All in all....the items tended to get in the way and it would have been nice if there was an Item Switch where you could turn them off or turn certain items off like in Super Smash Bros.
Another new feature in the game is the ability to use Bikes and motorcycles. Some players really like this. Bikes can drift better and perform sharper turns which is really handy on some stages. They also I guess look cooler when you're performing midair tricks. Call me old fashioned, but I still personally prefer good old fashioned standard karts. I think they have better top speeds in most cases. Also, you're much more vulnerable on a bike, because if a racer in a kart rams into you, you'll be shoved aside really hard which is fatal if you're on a narrow path with no guard walls or rails. But while I prefer karts, every once in a while I do like to take bikes for a spin.
The graphics on this game are shimmeringly goreous for Wii. Well textured, and looks smooth. Very shiny, too. The tracks are detailed but thankfully not too detailed so that you can't see where the track leads.
Lastly, the Wi fi. Nintendo's Wifi is terrible, as in sometimes it doesn't want to connect, or worse, it disconnects in the middle of a race. When it wants to work, the online is great though. No lag, no noticable framerate issues compared to the regular game, and taking on players from all over the world is a blast. Again though, this is only when it well connect. Sometimes I get the infamous Error Code 86420 like in the Brawl online.
Mario Kart Wii is another absolute must have for Wii owners. I've logged just as many hours into this game as I have for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But while it's great...the Item fiasco I mentioned is so much of a problem that it detracts from the experience at times.