Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mario Kart Wii

John Marine | 2/16/2010 03:27:00 AM |
Time to take the wheel in Mario Kart Wii, where it's anything goes! Ever since the very first Mario Kart (Super Mario Kart), the madness of racing has been exemplified to a great degree. The previous title focused on tandem racing. Many would argue that Mario Kart has always been about singles racing, so this was a welcome return. In addition, there is the debut of motorcycles and the first-ever Mario Kart to feature 12 racers to a track. Get ready for the ride of your life!

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Here is the game in question:

--- How Far We've Come ---
Before I chat about Mario Kart Wii, let's take a brief look back in time. I will only chat about games I've played before. Later in this section, I'm going to tell you why I'm mentioning past Mario Kart games.

Super Mario Kart.

^ from: fabricoffolly.co.uk - Super Mario Kart started it all. The rest is history.

The very first game was Super Mario Kart back around 1992. This would set the groundwork for one of the most fun racing game series ever. The Mode 7 scaling for this Super Nintendo gave you a chance to enjoy 3D-style racing with an insane array of items and powerups. There were also options for battle. So you didn't have to just race- you can also fight too!

Mario Kart 64.

^ from: thunderboltgames.com - a classic in its own right, Mario Kart 64 was another hot title that just did nothing but enhance the N64's awesome lineup of games.

Mario Kart 64 was completely 3D, except for the pre-rendered characters. This took the series to a whole new level. New powerups and crazier gameplay made the game even more irresistible. You can even play against one racer or up to four for this Nintendo 64 classic!

Mario Kart: Super Circuit.
- This title was the first-ever Mario Kart for a portable console.

You can enjoy the madness of Mario Kart on your Game Boy Advance (or even your Game Boy Advance SP) when Mario Kart Super Circuit was released. While I haven't played this game fully, I did demo it a few times. All I can say is that this game brings the excitement of the console Mario Kart games and translates it to the Game Boy Advance. I really don't have much experience here.

Mario Kart: Double Dash

^ from: nintendoworld.uol.com.br - "Mario Kart: Double Dash!!" added the strategy of having a secondary driver join in on the fun. Purists didn't like seeing tandem racing for a game series like the Mario Kart series.

Mario Kart Double Dash!! took a break from singles racing to focus on tandem racing. Unlike Mario Kart 64, EVERYTHING is completely (and beautifully) in 3D for this Gamecube title. This was the first Mario Kart to incorporate such a system. Gameplay became even more intense as you had to have a certain strategy to succeed doing tandem racing in this game. This was the first ever Mario Kart to feature Special items unique to certain characters. Many argue that this game wasn't as fun since it's tandem racing rather than one-on-one competition. It was also the first Mario Kart to feature a choice of karts to race based on the size and weight of the competitors.

Mario Kart DS.

^ from: nintendospin.com - "Mario Kart DS not only was the debut of Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS, but it was also the first-ever Mario Kart game to allow for online multiplayer gaming.

With the Nintendo DS' WiFi capability, you are able to play against anyone the world over through Nintendo Wi-Fi. This was a first and the most attractive feature about this game. Mario Kart DS features true 3D for a portable console. I haven't too much experience with this game either.

Now that we've gotten to see how far we've come along, it's time to look ahead. Why did I mention past Mario Kart games? It's because you can race on some of these courses in full 3D. Mario Kart Wii is the first Mario Kart game to feature actual past race courses. Up to 16 of these courses accompany the 16 new courses. It's also the first Mario Kart to feature motorcycles.

--- Mario Kart Wii Review ---
If you're not accustomed to the Nintendo Wiimote, you may have a tough time driving. Driving with the Wii remote is very good. The package comes with the Wii wheel accessory. I've done all of my racing in Mario Kart Wii with the wheel because it's more responsive and actually more fun to use than just not to use the Wii wheel accessory. The Wiimote clamps into place nicely and with very little compromise.

Karts and Bikes.
Mario Kart Wii gives you 32 courses across three engine classes and a choice of karts or bikes. The 50cc class only allows karts, the 100cc class is for bikes only, and the 150cc class is for both karts and bikes. There are lots of characters to choose from with many more to be unlocked (including racing with your Mii). You can even select if you want Mini Turbos or not after pulling off tricks. The tricks are little stunts you can perform while flying off of ramps. A successful stunt gives you a brief boost.

With 12 racers to a track, the action will be more intense than ever in series history. You run across these item boxes to access items and weapons. I think this game gives you items in a fairly consistent way. When you're back in the pack, the game tends to grant you the better items. When you're in front, you don't get too much help item-wise. You may be leading the race by a few seconds at times. When you're in the lead, stay alert and drive smart because a blue shell might be coming your way. All races last three laps in this game. Mario Kart Double Dash!! had a few races that lasted two laps for long courses and seven laps for that one oval course.

Racing karts gives you great control in the corners and great traction. Motorcycles give you sharp handling and sharp cornering. I have found karts more fun to drift around corners. I've found motorcycles more fun mostly in doing stunts. Try using both karts and motorcycles to give yourself a feel for both kinds of machines. The races themselves are quite furious. This is no game to just lag around and let life pass by. You've got to be on top of your game and stay alert at all times. In Grand Prix races, where you finish in one race will determine your starting position in the next race. You had to finish 4th or better in past games until Mario Kart Double Dash!!. But in this game, 5th or better is considered a good finish. Finishing last yields no points while victory rewards you 15 points. In a four-race championship, the maximum points you can earn is 60.

Each class of racing gives you four championships total. The top ones you can choose from are all the Mario Kart Wii courses, and the bottom championships consist of tracks from past Mario Kart games. The Wii courses are all very lovely in detail. The retro courses are some of the more interesting courses through the history of Mario Kart. The first game had these question blocks you run over rather than item boxes, so you have to get adjusted to the newer model. Also, the classic games feature the classic songs from the Mario Kart game which it came from. So you're not going to hear arranged remixes of each song from the retro courses.

The best thing about this game is that you can compete in a makeshift championship series if you want to do some racing outside of having to race Grand Prix events. This is ALWAYS a great feature.

You can also compete in Team Battle. Team Battle allows you to compete in championships where the highest-placed TEAM wins. There are only two teams- red and blue. Whichever one you go to is at random. It's not so much about crossing the line first, but rather if your teammates can cross the line for your team before the other.

A new battle game features the classic balloon popping, but also Coin Runners. This game has a team feel as you are assigned to a certain team. Coin Runners is all about collecting more coins than the other team. Taking damage or going off the course causes you to lose coins. The winning team wins!

You're the best Mario Kart Wii racer. How do you stack up against others around the world, though? You can race online via Wi-Fi connection. I haven't done any online racing (most of you know I'm not an online gamer to begin with), but that option is there if you want to share this insanity with the world. Find out how you stack in races in your region and elsewhere through Wi-Fi racing.

--- My Overall Review ---
Mario Kart Wii translates the insanity of the Mario Kart series perfectly for the Wii. The Wiimote isn't in any way a problem to use. This is a game that delivers a great challenge for all audiences. Speaking as a Mario Kart veteran, I'm pleased to see classic courses make a return for this game. Some tracks are very fun and easy like Coconut Mall and Daisy Circuit. Some others are absolutely brutal like Wario's Gold Mine and Rainbow Road (Rainbow Road is almost always a brutal course). I would recommend using the Wii's wheel assembly, though you can play just fine without it. The races can get a bit frustrating at times, but never to where the game is virtually unplayable. Racing motorcycles adds some extra diversity and are just as fun to race with as karts. Online racing means you'll never have to always race with AI. I don't think you can go wrong if you love the Mario Kart series.

If it's one thing I do wonder, what if you were able to race many more classic courses? Part of me wants to see what this game would be like if it had these tracks from past Mario Kart games:

* Rainbow Road (SNES)
* Kalimari Desert (N64)
* Toad's Turnpike (N64) (I'm sure this track was succeeded by Mushroom City in Double Dash and Moonview Highway in Mario Kart Wii)
* Choco Mountain (N64)
* Wario Stadium (M64; likely succeeded by Waluigi Stadium)
* Royal Raceway (N64)
* Banshee Boardwalk (N64)
* Daisy Cruiser (Gamecube)
* Yoshi Circuit (Gamecube)

Otherwise, please get this game if you have a Wii and love racing!

Thank you for reading. I hope my review of Mario Kart Wii has spurred your interest of getting this game. Please be sure to follow the links and products I've provided in this blog entry to help you to get these games (or any of the other titles I've mentioned). Thank you for reading!
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