Mario Kart Wii


Computer Platform:
Produced by:
Price Range: $41-50
Learning curve time: 1-2 hrs.
Age level: All Ages
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

Reviewed By: Matt Triponey

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆
Rating: 5 of 5 (excellent)
Gameplay: 4 of 5 (good)
Violence: 4 of 5 (barely present)
Adult Content: 5 of 5 (none)

Mario Kart Wii.  Illustration copyrighted.

When Mario Kart came out, I was a little doubtful at first. Mario Kart: Double Dash was, in my opinion, a major disappointment that strayed too far from the reasons I loved Mario Kart 64, and what I’d seen of Mario Kart made it look no different. But after playing a friend’s copy, I decided to give it a shot. So, how does it play? Is it closer to 64 or Double Dash? The answer to that is tricky.


Well, of course, there’s the main thing going for the game- it’s still classic Mario Kart, it’s still fun with friends, and its single player mode still makes you want to pull out your hair and scream at the television. But that’s why we love it. Um…right? Well, anyway, you’ll probably be pleased to know that the formula’s gone unchanged. As gimmicky and game-changing as the addition of bikes may seem, they’re really no different from karts, except they’re a bit faster and can’t turn to save their lives (which may actually be the case, especially on courses like Rainbow Road). And the items…well, they’re a mixed bag. I know, I know- it’s not Mario Kart without items, but there are moments when it gets ridiculous. Once, I had three red shells hit me in quick succession before I even had the opportunity to move. Another time, a red shell hit me into the massive explosion of a blue shell, and I was struck by lightning before I had even landed. And, unfortunately, these situations are common. I would consider this the game’s biggest negative. If the computer doesn’t want you to win, by golly, you’d better duck and cover! Still, to the game’s credit, the item situation is not nearly as bad as it was in Double Dash, which is actually why I decided to buy this one.

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But I know the real reason you’re all reading this- the Wheel. How does it work? Surprisingly well, actually. It doesn’t operate quite like Excite Truck; it’s far more suited to the Mario Kart environment. It’s very responsive, and I haven’t yet had any problems with it. Turning really hard won’t make you spin out either, also like in Excite Truck. The wheel takes a bit of getting used to, but it works basically as well as any control stick.
The other thing I’m sure you’re waiting to hear about is the online mode. Frankly, the other reviewers aren’t lying when they say it puts all other online games to shame. It does. You can do two types of battles- balloon and coin (it should be noted that balloon battle is now team-oriented, and it’s about points, so you just respawn once your balloons run out). You can also do races, of course. Another nice touch is that you can see the name, Mii, and home country of each of your opponents. The only problem is that, right now, it seems like ’s online service is having some issues, because I almost always get booted out just before the race starts.

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Mario Kart looks surprisingly nice. The environments, while not particularly detailed, are colorful and have a distinct art style, and it all actually looks good when you’re going past it at fairly high speeds. There’s definitely some eye candy here and there. The only major detractors are the character models, which are, quite frankly, really, really bad. They may actually be worse than Double Dash’s, and that’s saying something. They’re very blocky, and you could probably count the pixels if you had the time. Fortunately, the only times you’re going to see the character models are when the races end, so it doesn’t sully the experience too much.

You get to shoot at other karts with items. Beyond that…I really can’t think of any negatives. In the online mode, some opponents may have some dirty names for their Miis, but I’ve only encountered that once, and you can’t really blame the game for that. There aren’t really any content concerns here.

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So, do I recommend Mario Kart ? Not really. Frankly, your collection’s not incomplete without it. But I’m also not saying you should just shrug it off and wait for something else. I’m suggesting that you play it and decide for yourself. It’s a fun game, but some people will be too put off by the abuse of items. That’s just fine. But if you’re looking for a game that’s fun, that your brother’s five year-old friend can beat you at (um…not that that’s…um…you know…actually happened to me), and that has the best online mode of any game to date, this is probably a good game to pick up.

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Year of Release — 2008

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Answers Network.

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