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Mario Kart (Wii)
at 2:34AM PST on April 20, 2008.
RE: Mario Kart Wii IGN review (8.5)
IR supported menus, great Mii integration to hook the casual crowd, strong use of Wii's functionality, and another entertaining mascot racer. One of the best console Karts in years.
Not mind-blowing, but charming and polished. True 16:9 is met with 480p, some decent effects, nice model work, mixed offerings in track design, and nice retro worlds. Runs at 60 frames.
The Wii-mote speaker is actually helpful, the music is classic (elevator) Kart, and the character VO is only annoying sometimes. DK, we're looking mostly in your direction.
Core gameplay is great, with tricking and bikes adding a whole new level. We could use a faster cc class though. Annoying rubber band AI makes 150cc a chore, and cheapens GP.
9.0 Lasting Appeal
Local play is fun, but online rocks. Rankings, full ghost integration, reliable online play, smooth connections, Wi-Fi tournaments, and more make this one a must-have.
(out of 10 / not an average)
How do you score a game like Mario Kart, where there are millions of players worldwide, each with their own perception of what the franchise should be, what's important in a Kart experience, how they want to play it, and which game is truly the pinnacle of the series? What it really comes down to is exactly how Nintendo was aiming this one, what worked, and what didn't. It's obvious now more than ever that Kart is an every-player's game, so while you've got a few options for the hardcore gamers, there's dozens more geared towards those in the Mario Party, Wii Sports, and Wii Play camp. There are some things that feel completely out of whack though, such as the uncharacteristically cheap AI in 150cc, the lack of voice chat for an extremely social online game, reliance on friend codes, and "everyone's a winner" feeling you get when random items show up and completely turn the game upside down in an instant. Granted that's Kart, but it's also a way to water down competition, which is exactly how Super Mario Kart got its start.
Every player is going to have their own love/hate relationship with Mario Kart Wii, but in the end the game does so many things right that it'd be foolish not to give credit where due. Online seriously raises the bar for Nintendo, trumping even Smash in a big, big way. The sense of community you can get even with random racers online and ghost-supported leader boards is impressive, and the fact that you can head on to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection solo, with a friend via split screen, or hook up with buddies across the world without worry of lag and never-ending disconnect notices makes Mario Kart Wii a pure joy to play online. It isn't the best Mario Kart in the series, but it's a must-play experience on Wii, and standard-setting offering as far as online, channel support, and connectivity are concerned. Now if you'll excuse us, we've got some online stats to obsess over.
We'll see you online.
from Matt Casamassina
When it comes to sequels, it really doesn't get any safer than Mario Kart Wii and that's because Nintendo hasn't mucked around with too many of the gameplay components that have become staples of the franchise. Most of them remain as enjoyable today as they were when I was growing up with them. Responsive controls. Unpredictable tracks. And one of the best multiplayer experiences around -- they're all back. The title's online portion is so well done, in fact, that I'd recommend Kart to you even if it shipped without a single-player offering -- and that's a real testament to the Wi-Fi Connection component, as I'm normally not inclined to back multiplayer-only games.
A few issues do persist, though, some more frustrating than others. First of all, I am still not at all convinced that playing the game with the Wii Wheel adds anything to the experience. It improves upon playing with the standalone Wii remote if only because you will be more comfortable turning a wheel than a peripheral shaped like a television remote, but that's really about it. And truthfully, I feel like I'm at a disadvantage when I play Kart with motion controls because every so often I will take a turn incorrectly, not because I made the wrong motion, but because the Wii remote did not translate my motion correctly. I forced myself to play Brawl with the Wii remote because I really wanted to use Nintendo's new controller, not some classic pad. And yet, given the choice I would prefer to play Kart classically. The Wii Wheel certainly works well most of the time, but not as well as a more traditional setup, I'm sad to state.
The other issue relates to a design choice that Nintendo has backed for years, one that die-hard fans will probably back forever, too, and one that I feel is stupid, anyway. I'm referring, of course, to the manner in which you advance through the higher difficulty single-player courses -- a good deal of skill, but just as much luck. You can be zipping through a 150cc stage without a single error and well ahead of every other competitor when, seemingly out of nowhere, bam! Blue shell. Lightning bolt. One cheesy last-ditch effort after another by unfair AI-controlled components. And suddenly you've gone from first place to eighth by no fault of your own. You don't even have a defense against these items -- that is, unless you consider praying that your cheap AI competitors don't decide to rob you a defense.
The thing is, none of these complaints stop me from enjoying Kart Wii. In fact, it's still a great racer that oozes Nintendo charm and polish in most areas. And it represents the single biggest step into the online arena for the company, which has dragged its feet where connectivity is concerned. There is no racing revolution here, but if you grew up and loved the Kart experience, you're going to love the Wii game, too -- and you're going to be playing online for months to come.
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