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A 2008 racing game developed by Nintendo Entertainment.

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What Happened Mario Kart?

  • Oct 10, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+3
Since its inception in 1993, the Mario Kart Franchise has been a fun joyride for many a gamer. With 2005's Mario Kart DS being an incredible game, Mario Kart Wii has a lot to live up to. Unfortunately it doesn't live up.  In fact, Mario Kart Wii just might be one of the worst in the franchise due to its ability to make sure no skill can be used.  Yep, even Mario Kart has been subjected to making sure it's accessible to everyone (you mean it wasn't before?) but it's done in the absolute worst way possible, and we'll get to that.

As usual, the game consist of several drivers and like the DS version, they each have an array of karts to choose from. There are now 24 different racers and three classes. Lightweights, mediumweights and heavyweights. Some racers you'll have to unlock, and you can even race using your Mii. All characters also have a choice of 12 karts, and for the first time you can use bikes as you race.

There are 32 courses to race on in Mario Kart Wii. Half of which are brand new courses while the other half are from previous outings. You can play with friends and race in vs. in direct competition or on teams. You can also do single player and race the Grand Prix. Either way, you'll have to race to unlock new cups and characters. The new courses are incredibly fun and very well designed. There are also twelve competitors in a race instead of eight Like in previous installments there are also a good deal of items you can collect when you go through the races. Classic items like Lightning, Boost Mushrooms and shells are back. But there are also new items thrown in there like the Pow Block, a Lightning Cloud and the Mega Mushroom from New Super Mario Bros. thrown in for good measure. As usual, you get more helpful items the further behind in a race you are. They add a lot of variety to the game as a whole.

There are also battle modes. The classic balloon battle where you'll diminish a player's balloons and there's a coin battle where you'll have to collect coins. In both battle setups you roam around grabbing item boxes to pummel your enemies. Up to four people can battle at a time and there are twelve in a match. The other players will be controlled by the computer However, of all the Mario Karts, the Wii version certainly has the weakest battle mode. You're forced into teams rather than having an all out battle and they're also timed. It's not as much fun. While they bring some classic battle courses, it would be nice to battle your friends in a free for all. The AI controlled characters also aren't all that smart. It makes the battle less fun, especially by yourself.

Nintendo has incorporated many ways in which you can control Mario Kart. There is, of course, straight motion sensor controls. The game comes with a wheel to play with, but you don't need the wheel in order to use the Wii Remote as a wheel. This is perfect for Mario Kart Wii and is incredibly user friendly. If the wheel isn't working for you, you can also use the regular Wii Remote and Nunchuck setup or you can use the Classic Controller or the Gamecube Controller. I have to note, however, that for Mario Kart pros, the wheel isn't worth using.  It's nice for those new to Mario Kart and it's easy to use, but the controllers have more precision for veteran Mario Kart racers.

Mario Kart for the Wii is fun but it suffers from one huge setback, especially in single player. There are times when the game can be a test in frustration. When racing, the amount of items you can be bombarded with at once is absolutely terrifying. Especially if you go through the race in first place. There are many moments where you'll be hit by one item and find your footing only to be hit by another item instantly (and sometimes you won't even find your footing). This has always had the potential to happen in Mario Kart, but in the Wii version it happens regularly. In one race for example, I was pounded by a Red Shell, Pow Block and Lightning all at the same time, losing my lead and the race. This is even more frequent on higher CC levels. A little breathing room between being pummeled would've been nice. But the worst part about this element, is that getting first place in several races is based more so on luck rather than your actual racing skills. Whatever you do in one race to get 1st place, doesn't usually work on another. This is easily the biggest problem with Mario Kart Wii.

There's a term in gaming called "rubber-banding AI."  To put it simple it's when you hit the computer hard that they hit back harder.  Whatever you throw at them is bound to come back.  And Mario Kart Wii has some of the worst ruber-banding AI I've ever seen in a game.  Racing is a test in frustration more than anything.  Your "skills" will have little to do with what place you come in.  This is great... if you're new to gaming.  But in other ways it feels like a slap in the face to those who love Mario Kart.  In its attempt to make the game more accessible to non-gamers (again, I ask, wasn't Mario Kart already accessible even to non-gamers?) they made sure no skill was needed to play, and that it would just take a lot of luck to win.  When being pounded with one item after another it's hard to keep your lead even if you manage to take a big one.  Part of this comes from increasing the number of racers from 8 to 12, but a HUGE part of this comes from the fact that the 11 other racers are using items constantly, and those who fall beyond sixth place will get some of the better powerups.  Thus, if you keep in first for most of the race you might lose it not because you're bad at the game, but because you didn't have the luck to stay in first place.  The single player experience becomes frustrating as a result.  And even worse is that for those who've been playing Mario Kart for years... can't use their built in skills.  Not just because of the luck factor, but because nearly every advanced skill you could do before can now be really easily.  You don't even have to try.

The next worst part about Mario Kart Wii is that the single player experience... isn't that worthwhile.  You can no longer go through the Grand Prix with a friend.  This means that the biggest aspect of the game has to be gone at alone.  The only thing you can do with friends is set up a versus, and while you get to choose tracks it also means that for the billionth time, Nintendo has made a game that is only fun if you can get a bunch of friends together to play it.  Only Mario Kart isn't nearly as fun with friends as say... Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  Mario Kart Wii, instead, becomes a test in frustration alone... and limited with friends.  The novelty of the game just wears off too quickly to be worth putting down $50 for (and no, Nintendo ain't dropping that price any time soon).

On the other hand, the Wi-fi in Mario Kart Wii shows that Nintendo is beginning to take online gaming seriously. There's a lot of options and a lot of freedom. While you still have to deal with friend codes, that's hardly a problem when you finally start sharing records, racing and battling online. It all works really well. You might experience some lag, but if you've got a good connection it probably won't be heavy. The game also gives you the option of installing the Mario Kart Wii Channel on your Wii. You can get on that and check rankings any time you want.  The reason why going online with Mario Kart Wii is fun is because for once Nintendo hasn't put up safety nets.  You can't talk to anyone, but everything you can do offline, you can do online.  Nintendo is notorious for pushing the envelope and making sure no can harm you online.  Mario Kart Wii is actually a fairly good online experience.  The only problem is that like the rest of the game, it wears off quickly.  If multiplayer offline was limited... you're not getting anything different by going online.

Mario Kart has never been the greatest looking game out there.  Most of the tracks you go through are very well designed.  The new tracks are awesome.  Some of the classic tracks are also fun, but many of the tracks from around the Super Nintendo era just don't work well in 3D and they're far too short and simplistic.  But getting tracks from the DS and N64 versions is pretty cool.  You also get to play on some classic courses in multiplayer.  By the Wii's standards Mario Kart Wii is okay looking, but there are quite a few bland things to behold in the midst of the game.  The tracks are cool, but anything off the track just isn't amazing on the eyes.  So Mario Kart Wii is a good looking game, but not a great looking one.  Compared to games like Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Mario Kart Wii makes even the average Gamecube game look good.

In the end, Mario Kart Wii isn't a bad game, but it feels like a step backwards.  It's not fun by yourself, but mostly Nintendo was trying too hard to make it accessible to everyone.  So much so that the single player experience is frustrating and based on luck rather than skill, and that the multiplayer aspect is reduced to the bare bones so that people can't go at it on their own.  When will Nintendo learn that gamers come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and ages?  If a non-gamer wants to learn how to play Mario Kart... they can learn the way the rest of us did.  By picking up a controller, sucking at it and grinding to get better.  This is how all gamers got good at the games they're good at now.  You don't become a master at First Person Shooters overnight.  This is the problem Nintendo has with their Wii.  They want to make non-gamers into gamers overnight.  It doesn't happen.  And it's a disservice to those just now getting into gaming. 

I understand Nintendo's mission, but if we keep getting our favorite franchises dumbed down (which were already simple enough to begin with) just for the sake of making sure Grandma can play then what you get is dumb gamers trying to be hardcore.  If you begin with Mario Kart Wii, your skill isn't being tested.  So to the so-called "casual gamer" out there, I'm telling you now... gaming is fun, but it's also a sport when you really get into it.  Mario Kart Wii doesn't test your skills.  You might have fun, but if you're casual and you're considering making gaming a regular thing for you... games like Mario Kart Wii aren't doing you a service.  You're being treated like a child learning how to ride a bike with training wheels.  But no one is taking them off so that you can play with the big boys.  Mario Kart Wii is one of the best examples on the Wii which shows this.  It feels good to win a race doesn't it? 

But wouldn't it feel better if you won because of your own efforts?

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October 13, 2009
can't afford another gaming system but I have to admit, the Wii is one great party machine. You know your games, bud.
 
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More Mario Kart Wii reviews
review by . February 07, 2010
Nearly two decades after the original Super Mario Kart for the SNES, with Mario Kart Wii it seems that the venerable kart racer showing its age. It doesn't help that its console predecessor, Mario Kart: Double Dash for the Gamecube was just about perfect. So what can Mario Kart Wii do to improve upon that? The easiest way is to use the Wii's technology. The Wiimote is used for steering, by holding the Wiimote horizontally. It's reasonably effective, but feels a little off-balance without the steering …
review by . March 13, 2010
Mario Kart Wii
   Mario Kart Wii is a very fun game. It is when you race against 12 people on it; it goes up to  4 players! Its for Wii and nintendo. With the wii one you move it side to side to move your cart. With the nintendo you use the pad. In Mario Kart Wii, you can unlock places. Example: Maple Treeway. You can also unlock characters. Example: Birdo. I think its a good game if you like car racing. I recommend it. I think its the funest game on the wii!
Quick Tip by . March 12, 2010
Controls could be better.
About the reviewer
Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Wiki

Mario Kart Wii​ (マリオカートWii, Mario Kāto Wii?) is a racing game developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development and published by Nintendo for the Wii console. It is the sixth installment in the Mario Kart series (excluding the two arcade games) and the second Mario Kart title to use the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The game was released worldwide throughout April 2008, but one year later in South Korea. Every copy of the game is packaged with the Wii Wheel accessory, which is designed to house the Wii Remote to allow more intuitive and conventional steering.

Changes from its predecessor, Mario Kart DS, include motorbikes and support for up to twelve racers online. Like other games in the Mario Kart series, it involves various characters from several Mario games racing each other on tracks themed from locations in the Mario series. Support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection allows racing against other players from around the world, and online competitions and results are available by installing the Mario Kart Channel to the Wii Menu.

Mario Kart Wii was first shown at E3 2007. It has been positively received by critics; while not revolutionary, the online capability and the large number of tracks, characters and karts has been praised. The game had a commercially successful launch in every region, and sold over a million copies in both Japan and the United States in less than a month.
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Details

ESRB: Everyone, EVERYONE
Number of Players: 1-4
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Console: Wii
Genre: Racing
Release Date: April 27, 2008
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