Mario Kart Wii Review

 

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Mario Galaxy aside, Nintendo doesn’t seem willing to reinvent their blockbuster brands, but merely remaking them for the current generation. Between hit titles such as Twilight Princess, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Metroid Prime 3, and so on, fans of these franchises got high quality titles, but also got exactly what they were expecting. Mario Kart is no different in any such way, its a high quality kart racer, but is also a strictly average take on the Mario Kart franchise. This game is by no means a bad game, but it leaves much to be desired, it delivers just about everything you’d expect from a Mario Kart game, but thats the key problem.

There’s just a subtle feel about the game that feels off. It’s pretty obvious this iteration of Mario Kart is built for first timers and falling into Nintendo’s casual campaign as they sought to dumb down the driving mechanics to even out the playing field among the hardcore, and Nintendo’s new focused audience. Bundled with the game is a wheel peripheral, but a lot like the Wii Zapper this is a mere shell to hold your Wii Mote. Sure, non-gamers and perhaps even hardcore Mario Kart fanatics will get a kick out of using the wheel for awhile, but its the obvious inferior control option. It’s solidly built, and feels comfortable, but your not going to use it if you want to play a serious game. It seems like Nintendo just gave the wheel option so everyone can play equally as bad together. Alike Brawl this game does offer an option for a Gamecube controller, and classic controller use which are the more accurate way to play. 

 

Mario Kart Wii contains both 16 new courses to race through, and 16 retro tracks. While nostalgia does play a role in enjoying the retro revivals, the old tracks aren’t well balanced for the game’s newly introduced trick feature, or many of the new items that have been placed since the game the track originally appeared in. Weird enough a lot of the old courses seem second tier, which leaves the belief in Nintendo thinking about implementing retro tracks in future Mario Karts. Most new tracks are brilliant, giving lots and lots of branching paths, and environmental hazards The majority of the new stages forces you to approach them differently and apply new techniques. With all this together it creates a really fun racing environment. This is really the one area the game excels and stands above and beyond its predecessors.

 

Expect to see your standard roster of characters from the Mario franchise. This is the area of the game that is perhaps the most embarrassing. Nintendo scrapped the bottom of the barrel, and half the characters of baby versions of all the other top tier characters. Baby Peach? This begs the question on why Nintendo doesn’t delve into any of their other franchises for racers, as Shane Bettenhausen said, Super Smash Kart anyone? 

 

What the game surprisingly succeeds at is online play, very possibly being Nintendo’s best online game thus far. Yes there are still friend codes, but you can play with strangers in a lag free environmental. Their’s a fun Mario Kart channel that sets up tournaments, and hopefully is a message that first part titles will get a fully featured channel in the future. While Mario Kart was online in nits DS iteration, it’s just really exciting to see a fully functional Nintendo online game for a console.

Mario Kart Wii is in no way a bad game, but is a part of the best kart racing series and is one of the least thrilling of its own franchise. If your on the fence about picking this game up, just think about if you just want more of the same Mario Kart or not. Online play, and beautiful tracks do raise its status beyond mediocre, but this safe incarnation of current generation Mario Kart only wins the bronze.

 

-Steven Beynon

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