In a way that probably only Street Fighter II can match, Mario Kart instantly evokes the overwhelming urge to gather ones acquaintances, crack open the alco-pops and scream “you cheap bitch!” at each other until the neighbours complain. On this front at least, Mario Kart Wii succeeds. It is a fun game. You will have more fun playing it as part of a rowdy group.
Part of the series’ lasting appeal has been that we would all secretly go home and rehearse racing lines, banana drop-spots and, the most of sacred of acts, decide on a favourite character and kart. While you may choose to do this for the latest incarnation, it probably won’t get you very far. Tracks are invariably so wide that the player can often, on the first couple of run-throughs of an unfamiliar course, genuinely get lost and end up driving sideways towards a wall.
While discussions of “casual box art” may seem preposterous, it certainly seems that Nintendo are not going to disappoint the lowest common denominator in terms of skill. Whether this is a bad thing is an argument for another day, but most would agree that as long as you can keep the “hard core” feeling challenged, you can’t go far wrong with a mass-market game. It’s here that some may find the game lacking. As is to be expected, there is a plethora of tracks and vehicles to be unlocked through playing Grand Prix modes, and while this may suit ‘Kart’s traditional user base in terms of hours spent playing the game, there is certainly something missing for the perfectionist.
Mario Kart’s DS counterpart was notoriously harsh in the way it handled the race leader; blue shells seemed to come once-per-corner until at least one racer was within touching distance of the lead. Here, Nintendo have tried to rectify the situation somewhat and balanced out the amount of attacks that would obliterate the player who had earned the right to be out in front. Some justice, then, is served. However it does leave the leader lacking the sense of dread that we’re used to, and in some ways it’s lonely to be winning – especially for such a social game. Also missing from the Wii title is the arguably game-breaking snaking technique, which again points toward not wanting to alienate a less hardcore audience.
Mario Kart Wii is still a first party Nintendo game. It oozes quality and finish, and will provide those who are looking for it hours of out-and-out fun. The game makes no excuses about wanting mass appeal, and neither do its developers. Gran Turismo it is not but then we weren’t looking for that anyway, were we? Mario Kart Wii succeeds in bridging the gap between the social, casual game player and traditional gamers out to have a blast, but it may disappoint the SNES players of old who are looking to make every corner, boost and shell count towards their victory of inches.
- Playability: 2.5
- Addictiveness: 1.5
- Value: 2.0
- Opinion: 2.1