Ya'ver drink Brazilian bold from fkn dunkn donuts!
Mario started his racing days back in 1992 on the Super NES with the supremely brilliant Super Mario Kart, featuring many prominent characters from the Mario universe it was one of the best racing experiences to have with the mighty SNES. Since then there hasn't been a Nintendo system that didn't feature the greatness of Mario Kart and the Wii has the pleasure of hosting the 6th edition of the fantastic racing series.
It must get hard to keep trying to innovate with a racing series, Double Dash from the GameCube wasn't the most thrilling Mario Kart in existence so Nintendo have gone back to their tried and true formula of one racer per kart, and this being a Wii title motion controls can now be used with quite pleasant results. Stick the Wiimote into the driving wheel peripheral and hold your arms out in front and you too can look and feel as silly as the adverts would have you believe, with the family it is quite fun to go this route, but for ultimate control, using the classic controller or a GameCube controller is your best bet.
Mario Kart Wii plays and feels very similar to the N64 version albeit with more smoothness in how the wide variety of karts perform. While in the past there were essentially light, medium and heavy racers with a range of high acceleration/low top speed to low acceleration/high top speed depending on if you pick Toad or Wario, there are now stats added to the vehicles you can drive. Some karts have added drifting and boost ability, others have low weight and good speed, others have tight handling and better off road ability, in the end I kept on choosing the karts with better handling as the speed never really presented itself with enough difference from the AI racers, in other words coming in first place wasn't solely dependent on who picks the fastest kart.
I live my life a quarter mile at a time. Nothing else matters: not the mortgage, not the store, not my team and all their bull****. For those ten seconds or less, I'm free.
The reason for this is the power ups which are available, racers who remain at the back of the pack are entitled to the most powerful weapons, invincibility stars with speed boosts, bullet transformations that automatically guides you to a much higher pole position, the nefarious blue shell that takes out first place no matter what, or the infinite boosting mushroom for 10 seconds or so. Having the lower ranked racers have access to these power ups is designed to keep the racers closer together, and to keep the playing field level, racers who find themselves at the front of the pack will have to make do with bananas, the occasional shell and mimic collectibles, along with being susceptible to the onslaught of lightning and blue shells. It is kind of communist in its approach, but it keeps everyone on their toes and does a great job of keeping the racing pack together, where most of the excitement occurs.
Gimme dat boost
Power sliding, or drifting makes its return, by holding the hop button you enter a slide, hold that for a second or two and you get blue flames, hold it even further and orange flames start to happen, release and you get a small speed boost. In previous games abusing this feature meant insanely low race times and irritation amongst less skilled racers, Nintendo have smoothed this feature over as the level design doesn't really allow for continual power sliding.
The newly introduced bikes can also power slide, but are limited to only blue boosting, they do have the option of wheelies which gives a marginal speed increase. Additionally, drafting or staying behind a racer in front of you and holding that position for a short time will give you a speed boost and increased ability to ram other racers out of the way, the risk being if the racer in front becomes wise to your antics, a banana or shell might be in the works. The last opportunity to get a speed boost comes from mid air tricks, when jumping off a ramp, hit the UP button on the DPAD and your avatar will do a trick, when they land a speed boost will happen, it may not always pay off to head for ramps as getting a speed boost off it only offsets the amount of time you spend mid air, so choose wisely for the best effect.
Never miss an opportunity for a bro fist
Mode wise Mario Kart is jam packed, the traditional Grand Prix with 50cc (easy) 100cc (medium) and 150cc (hard) difficulties on hand, with an initial 4 cups to enter, each with 4 races to compete in. When a race is completed, depending on your position in the field points are awarded to you, the racer with the most points wins the cup and if you are good enough and wipe the floor with the competition additional stars will be added to your racing card. As you complete the cup tournaments an additional 4 cups will be unlocked, giving a grand total of 32 courses. In addition to a few new courses a great deal of the tracks available are remastered versions from the older games, from the SNES, N64, GBA, DS and GameCube there is no real shortage of courses to race on and the ones that have been remixed are fantastic, particularly the ones from the SNES with the same classic soundtracks to match, the nostalgia rush really is tremendous.
In addition to Grand Prix, Time Trial, VS, Battle and Free Mode are available, with the exclusion of Free, each mode has the ability for unlockables, ranging from characters to karts, there are plenty of challenges to be met to keep the challenge alive and the interest high. Battle mode is quite fun, in either free for all or teams you can enter an arena and fight for dominance of coins or to destroy each other's balloons, this really extends the multiplayer aspect of the game and are nice little distractions from the Grand Prix and Time Trials.
I'mma gonna win!
Being a Wii title there really isn't a super amount of power available for visual impact, however the game does look pretty okay. Tracks are lovely and vibrant, racers have a nice amount of colour to them and the special effects are nice and minimal, nothing too harsh to confuse but enough to keep you visually stimulated. There is one little niggle that I still can't get quite comfortable with, there is some kind of rendering technique used to give some smoothing or some additional depth to the quite simple geometry, while it does give the game a more distinguished look, it kind of blurs or washes out the colour and I found myself more visually impressed with the N64's art direction and use of colour. It's not an overall bad thing, just something that I can't get quite comfortable with.
What I can get comfortable with is the sound, the music in Mario Kart Wii is absolutely fantastic, the vibrancy in the upbeat music is always soothing and enjoyable, with the remixed tracks from the SNES they sound incredibly authentic to the original sound from 1992, with a few technical improvements to keep them from jarring with the newer tracks. The only real problem comes from the repetitive noises each character makes and over long periods of play they can become a bit annoying. Still, when you hear that sublime Rainbow Road music you can't help but feel a special sense of serenity as you sweat profusely trying not to fall off the edge.
Rrrrrennnn, a rrrrrrennnnn, a ren ren nen nen nen nen nen brrrrrrr.......I like motorcycles
Mario Kart Wii is a game that doesn't really have any real fault to it, it is incredibly fun, handles incredibly well, has plenty to do and to unlock and it gets pretty hard to get tired of it. The game can also evoke great tension when it comes to finishing first, and the challenge of the 150cc Grand Prix is fantastic, despite all the greatness that the game has, it somehow doesn't feel absolutely complete, despite how varied and feature packed it is, there just seems to be some overbearing sense of formula to the proceedings, particularly with the AI, whoever comes second and third in the Grand Prix will always be the top contender for first place, there never really seems to be any upset victories, no great deviation in who is vying for first, second and third, if you find yourself in the middle of the pack all the time, whoever came first in the initial round of any particular cup will be the guy who will win the cup, unless you manage to come first instead. It's this reason why single player can remain a little dull at times and why playing against human opponents is the only real way to get any sense of deviation from the predictable nature of the AI.
Despite this issue which hasn't really changed since the first Mario Kart, this is a superb and wonderful game to play, the challenge is there if you want it, the fun is too easy get, and the courses are fantastic, despite some of the charm not being absolutely complete, this is definitely a game that you cannot pass if you are a Wii owner, and if you aren't this game is a great reason to get one.