Latest Game Reviews

Mario Kart Wii Review - Wii

6.5
Gameplay: 7 stars 7
Graphics: 6 stars 6
Audio: 6 stars 6
Multiplayer: 7 stars 7
Innovation: 5 stars 5
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Introduction

Given that there’s been a Mario Kart released for every Nintendo system since the Super Nintendo, it was only a matter of time until they announced one for the Wii. How much time? Seven months, to be precise – at E3 2007 the game was announced, and it hit stores in April 2008. The series is known for its unique tracks, devastating items and, most of all, frantic multiplayer, but does Mario Kart Wii deliver?

Gameplay

Let’s get the basics out of the way. The game is made up of eight cups, each containing four tracks, for a total of thirty-two courses. Four of the cups are brand new, while four are made up of classic courses from the series’ history, a la Mario Kart DS. Single player has you working through each cup trying to come out on top, at increasing speeds (and AI difficulties). There’s a time trial mode to let you perfect routes through courses, and a single player battle mode too so you can practice the multiplayer mode… by yourself. Get the gold trophy in various cups, and you’ll unlock characters, karts and more cups. It’s simple, really.

So, let’s take a look at the controls. The next Wii peripheral you’ll get for one game and then put in a drawer and forget about is the Wii Wheel, a white plastic (what else?) shell that you slot a Wiimote into sideways. Then you can twist it like a steering wheel in order to…um… steer. The ‘2’ button accelerates, while the ‘1’ button or B trigger (which can be pressed through the wheel) drifts when turning, or brakes when you’re not holding the accelerator. Items can be thrown forward by pressing up on the d-pad, dropped behind you if you press down, and held behind you for later use by holding sideways. Finally, the A button lets you look behind, but I don’t know why you’d ever use it.

The problem is that the Wheel is completely superfluous and, in my experience, actually seemed to make things harder for the casual gamer. My sister, hardly a regular gamer but with some previous Mario Kart experience, found the Wheel to be endlessly frustrating and the game near unplayable as a result. Thankfully, that’s only one control scheme of five. The second way of playing is simply removing the shell and playing with just the Wiimote. You still tilt left and right to steer, but thankfully you can hold the controller flat instead of vertically in the air like the poor bastards on the TV commercial.

I’ll run through the other control schemes quickly. You have the Wiimote and nunchuk, which lets you steer using the analog stick instead of tilting. A is used to accelerate, C looks behind and Z fires your item forward or backwards depending on how you push the control stick. The Gamecube controller works similarly to Double Dash!!, with A accelerating and the shoulder triggers drifting, but if you release the accelerator while drifting, it acts as a brake. ...

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