Mario Kart Wii Review

Mario Kart has been around for a long time. From humble beginnings on the Super NES to the juggernaut it is today, it has never disappointed. Every new Mario Kart brings a new twist to the table, and Mario Kart Wii is no different.

This time the hook is the motion controls that all Wii games inherently have. Mario Kart Wii comes packaged with a plastic shell shaped like a steering wheel (called the Wii Wheel) that you pop the Wii remote into. Players use the Wii Wheel to steer their character’s vehicle. The wheel actually works excellently; I was pleasantly surprised. At first you will probably oversteer quite a bit, but once you get used to the fact that the wheel doesn’t require much turning, you will get the hang of it. I completely adapted to the Wii Wheel in about 30 minutes.

I love the wheel but I can see how other people may not. Nintendo has you covered though. Mario Kart Wii also offers three other methods of control. You can use a Gamecube pad, the Classic Controller, or you can use the Wii remote and nunchuk combo. Of these three, I found the latter to work the best. It offers an easy way to pull off tricks (more on that later) and it gives you the accuracy of analogue control.

The new controls aren’t the only new thing in this iteration of Mario Kart, however. Ever since the beginning, Mario Kart has kept true to its name by having Mario characters drive around in karts. This time, motor bikes have been added to the equation. Bikes differ from karts in two ways. For one, bikes can do wheelies. To start a wheelie you simply shake the Wii remote towards yourself (or press the d-pad if you’re using the Gamecube pad or Classic Controller). While doing a wheelie you will gain a great amount of speed but your turning abilities will greatly suffer which means it’s best to only do wheelies on straightaways.

Second, bikes only have one charge level on a power slide boost whereas the karts have two. On the subject of power slides, they’ve been changed a bit. In past Mario Kart titles, you started a drift and then shook the analog stick back and forth to get a power slide going. In Mario Kart Wii the power slide will start automatically as you drift.

This small change removes snaking, an advanced technique that’s been around since Mario Kart 64 which allowed skilled enough players to leave the opposition in their dust. Unlike advanced techniques in some franchises, this one couldn’t really be countered so the only choice for other players was to learn the technique themselves. It wasn’t really fair for those who just wanted to have fun without worrying about complicated techniques.

Another addition to the franchise is the mid-air tricks. Both karts and bikes can pull off these tricks when they get boosted off into a ramp and into the air. You use them the same way you would wheelies and if you do pull off a trick, you will gain a speed boost after landing on solid ground. It’s a neat little addition that offers a small extra helping of graphical flair and a bit of added depth.

If you’re worried that all these changes have somehow changed the classic Mario Kart formula for the worse, do not fear. This is classic Mario Kart at its finest. The changes detailed in this review are small and do not mess up what the series is all about: racing with an arsenal of wacky items at your disposal.

For better or worse the items in this game are more powerful than any of the items in previous iterations. The blue shell, red shell, and bananas are all here but with them comes the dreaded Bullet Bill, the Super Shroom, and the Pow Block. Of course there are more and they are all devastating. Also, now that races support 12 racers instead of eight you are bound to be pelted by item after item. It can be annoying if you’re in first place right about to hit the finish line when suddenly you’re hit by a barrage of debilitating items. At the same time, it can be absolutely hilarious if you happen to be hanging around a group of friends.

Replay value in Mario Kart Wii is excellent due to the ability to go online and race strangers from around the world. There are no limitations–anything you can do offline, you can do online. The netcode is surprisingly stable which is a welcome change of pace from other online-enabled Nintendo games. In my online playtime, I never encountered a hint of lag and I was never waiting more than a minute for the game to match me up with other players. Due to the robust online experience, you will likely be playing this game for quite a while.

Graphically, the game falters a bit. While the tracks look great and the colors are bright and vivid, the character models are blocky and aren’t much improved from their console predecessors. The music on the other hand is great with a lot of cheery tunes and remixes of classic tunes which all sound great.

It’s a toss-up between Mario Kart DS and this game, but I’d have to say Mario Kart Wii is my favorite in the series. I can’t say the same for the rest of you but I can say that you will love this game if you even remotely liked the other entries in the series. The track designs are probably the best in the franchise and the online is great. This game comes highly recommended.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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