VG Review: 'Mario Kart Wii'
"Mario Kart Wii"
Nintendo, for Nintendo Wii, rated E for Everyone (comic mischief), $49.99.
Next to the actual, "official" Mario platform games, the "Mario Kart" series is probably the most popular spinoff featuring the red-hatted plumber.
So it's no big surprise that Nintendo would release a version of the go-kart racing game for its current Wii console. Nor is it surprising, given past games' level of quality, that "Mario Kart Wii" is an entertaining game, though longtime fans might find it a bit more predictable than newcomers will.
The basic concept of the game remains unchanged. You pit yourself in a cartoonish grand-prix style series of races against up to 11 other players.
The tracks are littered with hazards. And the ability to grab and throw random items such as banana peels and turtle shells at other players means that it's easy to go from last to first in a matter of seconds (sadly, the reverse also is true).
It wouldn't be a Wii game, of course, unless Nintendo came up with some fancy control scheme. Here, said scheme comes in the form of a "Wii Wheel," a piece of plastic shaped like a steering wheel. You simply slide your Wii remote into a large slot in the middle and voila! Now you can steer your cart as you would a real car.
I found this setup to be intuitive and responsive. I had next to no problems controlling my vehicles and found it to be much more graceful than my past experience mashing buttons and pushing joysticks.
There are a few other new inclusions, most notably the addition of bikes, which are a tad more difficult to steer than the kart, adding extra challenge to the game.
The other notable extra is the ability to go online in a variety of multiplayer races, including tournaments. The game doesn't feature any voice or chat integration, robbing it of potential social interaction (though those tired of trash talking might be glad about that).
If there's a downside to the game, it's that it's overly familiar. While the new tracks are inventive and varied, there's a bit too much reliance on older courses.
The game also feels a little bit dumbed down and oversimplified, a deliberate attempt, no doubt, to allow younger players and those new to the series to play without any difficulty.
But that last gripe shouldn't be too surprising. "Mario Kart Wii" is ultimately designed to be a "family friendly" game -- one that parents can play with their kids without feeling confused or like they have to shut off their brains. In that regard it succeeds admirably.
Copyright The Patriot-News, 2008