By Philip Dunkley
I find it getting continually more difficult on a daily basis to review certain games, especially games that have a particularly long history, especially when we as gamers have never really been exposed to them. Nintendo is one of those companies that have franchises spanning decades, and I cannot lie and say I was the world’s biggest Nintendo fan, and even though I did own a SNES, 64, GameCube and now a Wii, many games slipped by the wayside.
Now enter Nintendo into the South African market with the launch of the Wii and the DS, and you get a much more aggressive marketing campaign, and no matter where you go, you are confronted with a huge amount of Nintendo advertising, so we really need to sit up and take notice of these great franchises we missed, and catch up now!
Mario Kart is one of those franchises. I have never really got into it at all, and when Nintendo invited me to the launch event, I was rather excited about getting stuck in to a new gaming experience. After leaving the launch with my review copy, I was pretty keen to get home and get cracking into the game, as I actually had a lot of fun at the launch, getting a chance to play quite a few multi-player games in versus mode.
Basically, it’s this. It’s a Go-kart racer. It’s set in the world of Mario and characters, and has a huge amount of different modes that the player can engage in from a single player and multiplayer perspective, and believe me, local multiplayer is the place to do it in Mario Kart Wii. As you race around the various tracks, power ups become available to the player, which can either give you a much needed boost, some banana’s to drop on the track to nail other players with, shells to shoot at other players and a variety of other goodies to keep your opponents at bay. Just remember, they pick them up too.
This version of Mario Kart has a bit of an add-on this time, as the game comes with the Wii Wheel, basically a shell that the Wii-Mote clips into, and turns it into a wireless free flying steering wheel. So instead of just mashing a bunch of buttons and sticks, you immediately have a much more interactive method of driving, directly out of the box. Problem is, if you to want play local based split screen multiplayer, you will need to purchase more wheels, although the game does support standard Wii controls, GameCube controls and Wii Classic Remote.
This is where I am going to move into the overall control and gameplay section of this review, as I found it somewhat dissatisfying at point, and great at others. The reason I say this, is because I’m just not sure that the Wii Wheel is the best method of control for this game, but it’s still fun nonetheless, and casual gamers are going to have a blast with this. It just seems to have a few issues interpreting the movements I made, especially when the excitement levels rise and you’re basically all over the place trying to beat the two people next to you. It’s a great addition, but just not my favourite cup of tea.
From a gameplay point of view, it’s pretty standard Kart style racing here, and if you’re looking for simulation based mechanics and stash of tuning options, avoid this at all costs, but if you’re into fun racing games set in colourful worlds and with some particularly interesting levels designs, you will have a blast with this. Some of the levels are designed really well, with some standing out as particularly tricky, yet engaging. The usual massive amount of Mario related friends and enemies are also littered around all the tracks. You have various race modes, and difficulty settings as you move through the 50cc, 100cc and 150cc classes, and you get the chance to race against various Nintendo staff members in the form of “Ghost Saves”. For the first time in the series, you also have the chance to ride bikes. You will also encounter a huge amount of unlocks, so be prepared to get stuck in for a while if 100% completion is the only way you role in a game. One issue I did have with the game, is that sometimes winning is down to luck, as you could be wiping the floor with your opponents, and suddenly you are hit with one of the games many “weapons” by another player, which you have no defence against, and are thrust from 1st place to 12th place is a heartbeat, forcing the player to replay the level.
From the visual front, Mario Kart Wii looks pretty good in places, but somewhat inconsistent, with some levels looking really vivid and colourful, filled with amazing little details, and then another looking a bit dull and bland. I also need to raise an issue here. It’s becoming noticeable that the Wii graphics are starting to look a bit dated, which does not bother me in the slightest, but if you’re looking for the latest cutting edge graphics, look elsewhere. But then that’s not what the Wii is about now, is it? The sounds are good too, with a hefty helping of favourite Mario themed music to keep the pace along with the game.
In conclusion, Mario Kart Wii is a game does not take any real risks moving the franchise forward, but is that such a bad thing considering the success of the previous titles, and will appeal to both the casual gamer, the hardened fan and anyone looking to have a little bit of fun. It has a particularly fun multiplayer mode that will appeal to most, and a decent amount of content to keep the single player happy.
If you are a fan of the series, you will enjoy this one, and new players to the series will also enjoy it, if it’s only for its pick up and play mechanic, providing hours of fun.
Gameplay: 8/10 [Loads of Fun]
Presentation: 7/10 [Some inconsistencies, yet still good]
Sound: 7/10 [Not Groundbreaking, but still engaging]
Value: 8/10 [You are going to get hours of play here]
Overall: 8/10 [A fun game, one which pleases on all fronts]
Last Updated: June 11, 2008