Product Type: Nintendo Wii games
Newest Review: ... same time thanks to some clever difficulty balancing. There are 16 standard tracks to choose from and 16 classic tracks to try. There is... more
Wheely, Wheely Good
Mario Kart with Wii Wheel - Wii Remote Not Included (Wii)
Member Name: Puggers
Mario Kart with Wii Wheel - Wii Remote Not Included (Wii)
Advantages: Great blend of old and new, nice graphical touches, wonderful controls.
Disadvantages: Irritating power-ups.
A brief infatuation with Daytona USA aside, I've never much been into racing games. They just don't interest me. A million models of hyper-realistic car? Meh - but give me racetracks in shopping malls, jumps over lava pits and wandering penguins to dodge around, and you've piqued my interest. The absurd, relentlessly entertaining, occasionally painfully irritating Mario Kart franchise came to the Wii in 2008, and for my money it's never been better - the console's motion-sensing technology is what the game's been waiting for, and it's wonderfully realised here.
The franchise has been around since 1992 in various, and what's nice about the game - one of many, many praiseworthy aspects - is the fact that it doesn't try to reinvent the wheel - wheels. Any of them. The game's recognisably Mario Kart, and plays gleeful homage to its predecessors, reprising and reinventing tracks, characters and little touches here and there, making this feel very much like a natural progression of the series. At times, you could well be playing any one of the previous games - in the best possible way.
That said, it's the touches that set this installment apart from those that have gone before that make it what it is. The most striking difference is the wheel that comes bundled with every game - it's just a piece of moulded plastic, but combined with the Wii remote, it makes the world of difference to gameplay. The remote slots into the centre of the wheel and you're off - the buttons control acceleration and braking as well as deployment of weapons, while your movements are transferred with acute accuracy to the screen. Being able to control the races this way is something that really transforms Mario Kart, and makes this enormous fun.
With 16 tracks included in the game, there's great depth to the gameplay as well. The challenge is well-pitched, and the way in which the unlockables are scattered throughout the game works perfectly - you'll quickly spring loose a few of the game's secrets, uncovering new tracks and characters, but to fully reveal the game's mysteries, you'll need to work pretty hard. Performing well on the latter tracks requires no little skill, and it's in pursuing these objectives that the longevity of the games is found.
While many of the tracks are familiar, the benefits of the Wii's graphical capabilities make quite a difference to them - some, such as the Mario/Luigi Raceways could well come out of the N64 game, but the more unusual environments; namely the desert, snowy and especially the autumnal circuits look great on this platform. The little touches - deep snowdrifts and flurries of crispy leaves - are beautifully rendered, and on a big screen, the whole thing comes together fantastically, with impressive frame rates and colourful, well-designed courses.
What else is new? Bikes feature in the game for the first time, making a difference to the feel of the ride - you can corner more swiftly and pull wheelies that give you a boost of speed but diminish your control of your vehicle. New power-ups are included, such as the bittersweet Lightening weapon, which increases your speed for a time before zapping and shrinking you - tactical use can enable you to harness its benefits before shunting the drawbacks off onto another player.
There are drawbacks to the game as a whole - namely, the power-ups. While fun, certainly, they can be a little unbalanced and excessively random, which becomes a real annoyance in multi-player games. Lead the race and you'll pick up a series of near-useless weapons, while those bumbling along at the pack will rack up a horde of tricks like the Bullet, which whips you automatically up the track at great speed. There's a lot of merit to this - in theory - preventing the weaker players from getting too drubbed or anyone else from running away with it, but it's too imbalanced. Although the randomness and unpredictability is part of Mario Kart, it almost works out the other way around - it's too predictable. You can routinely be winning, driving a perfect race and you'll get hit by so many weapons you'll develop a persecution complex by the third lap.
This is, though, a fairly minor grumble - this isn't super-realistic racing simulation, and getting pegged by a roaming turtle shell inches from the finishing line and stumbled in ninth is part and parcel of the experience. The variety of play modes, the extensive range of tracks, characters and objectives, the wonderfully intuitive, pick-up-and-play nature of the game - these are all spot-on, and the game is the sum of its wonderful parts. If only every racing game had giant caterpillars roaming haphazardly around the course and parts of the track collapsing into lava.
Summary: Wonderful update to the franchise.
More reviews in the field of Nintendo Wii Game
- A Fun Way To Work Out
- Have A Go A t The Olympics From Your Armchair
- Everybody jump jump!
- Super Mario Kart for now and forever?
- Are you up to the Olympic challenge?
- Fun sports for all ages
- The Umbrella Chronicles for Wii
- My favourite resident evil so far
- Fantastic Game!!!
- The not-really-Hip Hop Dance Experience
- Playzone Cooking Party (Wii)
- Planet 51 (Wii)
- Naked Brothers Band Game (Wii)
- Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Wii)
- Gravity (Wii)
- Nintendo Selects: Mario Party 8 (Wii)
- Nintendo Selects : Animal Crossing: Let's Go To The City (Wii)
- Dance Dance Revolution Hottest Party 3 (Wii)
- Ben 10 Omniverse 2 (Wii)
- Beyblade Metal Fusion : Counter Leone (Wii) including exclusive toy (Wii)