Well here we are... it's finally arrived! Pre-Ordered a few months ago and arrived on the release date. As a start, I would just like to say thank-you to Amazon for the quick service!
But let's get started, i'm sure many of you are wondering what the games like after months of speculation. You'll receive the game and the Wii Wheel in a nice compact box, giving it the extra touch. The Wii Wheel is a no-brainer attach to the remote - it slides in smoothly like gel, feels like excellent quality, and is well made. I should note at this point that this Nintendo Wheel is the best i've handled. I've held others and they were no where near as good quality - if you're getting extras for multi players, go official!
After inserting the game disc and a quick Wii Update off the net, you're ready to go! Upon first going to the main menu, you create a License that accompanies your own Mii, containing all your stats. This License is then shared across the world as necessary. After taking a few seconds to do this, your next job is to get the Mario Kart Channel onto your Wii, again taking a minute. I should briefly explain for those that have the internet that the Mario Kart Channel is just a place for sharing stats and ghosts, and is not a nessecity. It is however a very competitive area when you can easily see all the different players Mii's on the map, and be able to instantly challenge their ghost! At the bottom of the map is a time-line of all the best times you've raced on that particular course - each time you race any track, the time and ghost are recorded (On Time Challenge mode).
You'll be wanting to start a game soon, and so the new snazzy menu's comes to the Characters screen. It's good to see a whole new range of characters, and all handle 'very' differently, which is good if you want a challenge. For example, play as Toad and you accelerate quick, but play as Koopa (I know, who would have thought?) and the steering handles more responsively... Play as the unlockable King Boo and the steering is very responsive, though play as Boswer and its the same old story - heavy! You get the idea anyway...
You go on to choose 50cc (Easier Mode), 100cc or 150cc (More Challenging) as always, but then you have the option of choosing from 3 different types of vehicle... the classic Kart, a motorbike, or a more... well.. old fashioned looking Cathrem (to those un-familiar, it's an old racing car). Again, they all handle differently, and offer a new challenge. I'd also like to remind readers that, just like the characters, the unlockables also applies to the vehicles - whereas you may start off with having 6 different vehicles for one character, another may only have 2, thus requiring you to work hard to unlock more items. Such extra vehicles include Off Roaders - the first unlockable!
So what about gameplay? I'm going to be concise - it does take getting used to with the wheel. It's a whole new way of playing - the wheel may feel awkward because you're not used to it. Rest assured after even half and hour, you'll get the hand of how responsive it is. This leads me onto the only head-turner with game.. responsiveness. When you hold the wheel in front of you, you're allowed to turn it about 2/3 centimeteres either left or right before you even get any sideway's movement. This is what takes getting used to, as we are all on doubt used to the analogue stick - turning of the old days! Once you get a feel for how responsive each player is, you'll relax alot more and stop holding it stiffly!
I would just like to say at this point that you should take no notice of the melotomous negative reviewers that fail to use the wheel properly.
You MUST hold the wheel at around an '80 Degree Angle' to achieve the best response. Holding it below 45 (i.e can't be bothered mode) will get you no-where. This is just a simple fact, and even in the instruction book diagrams shows the figure holding it at a similar angle.
The courses are without a doubt eye-candy in every way. Indeed, their is a general mix of the new and old (32 Courses all together! Incredible...), and once I played for the first time, it was all too familiar to play on some old style courses, specially those lovely 'blocky' style SNES ones. However, I feel Mario Kart Wii's best feature is the brand new courses. They remind me of Super Mario Galaxy in that they've pushed the Wii's physic's and texture capabilities to the max. The the lighting and shadow effects are second to none, and as I said, are on par with S.M.G. In many courses, so many off-the-track events happen, large characters walk across the screen, and you can be sent flying hundreds of feet into the air, and land smoothly back down again, with no graphical problems, mainly thanks to the Wii's Hollywood ATi GPU (that if the Wii hater's did their research on, is 4 times more powerful than that of the GameCube). Zoom through portals and you feel like you're travelling at warp speed! The frame-rate (60 FPS) remains crisp and fast, complimenting the incredible speeds that you can get up to on some tracks. Perhaps the best feeling is navigating your Kart around high-up scenes, which feels amazing. Their is one lovely track set up high in an Autumn style theme, with lots of trees and leafs, and one section sends you hurtling from a tree trunk onto the next section, with stunning smooth effects. It just looks and feels incredible, and considering I don't own the Wii Component Cable, it can only look better too!
I'll also briefly talk about the new range of items - rather than just the standard shells and a handful of other "common" items (the ones you get time and time and time again...) their is now a range of items that inflict varying amounts of damage to the others players racing, in different ways. For example, you can obtain a 'Squid' that blows a gunky liquid all over your screen, blinding your vision! You can even get 'Pow' blocks which knock all the players upside down, and knock away their items. My favourite however is the ingenious Bullet Bill - a huge version of the original Nintendo character that you hurtle as through a large portion of the track. And remember, their are now 12 racers in a race, making up for the wildest Mario Kart yet!
Again on the gameplay side of things, another great feature is a... umm.. radar effect that sounds through your Wii Remote as an on coming item is behind you that you can't see. For example, Red Shells, Bullet Bills etc. This is a nice idea - a little ironic in that though its supposed to warn you, you can do little to shake off a homing red shell, but all the same it gives you an early warning and can help you to tactically avoid many compromising issues. Particularly when you're just at the finish line...
But what about the multi-player business? I can honestly say it's been the feature i've used most so far, simply because of the fun aspect, and knowing you're not up against a CPU. Once selected from the main menu, your Wii connects to the server where a globe is shown. You have the choice of playing either against Wii Friends, any Wii user across the world, or 1-4 players on your own Wii against others across the world. I'd just like to point out here some clever marketing by Nintendo... they stated you can play "up to" 11 other drivers at the same time. This doesn't mean that you'll be competing against 11 other people every time - it's the luck of the draw. If not enough people make up the numbers, then that amount the server found at that time just play. Most of the time, I race with 9 other drivers, and the least i've played against is 2! (another eye-opening experience)
You then have the choice of who you're playing as and what circuit you want to use. This part I like - you can either 'vote' for a circuit, or just choose random... neat fair touch!
The game play is without any lag time - fantastic and all expected in the year 2008. I really admire this - Nintendo, since they opened their Wi-Fi service, have kept it simple and easy to use. How you finish the race has an effect on your overall 'Points' status, just like in Wii Sports, though it starts off at 5000. Finish in top half of your driver list (i.e you finish 4th out of 10 racers) and you GAIN points. Finish in the bottom half (i.e 5th out of 8 racers) and you points go down. Points are based on the quality of your driving and the position you finished.
You can't help but just laugh and grin when you're playing against others across the world - its an amazing feeling, and a feature that if people don't have the Wii for their internet, are sorely missing (is their any reason not to?). I feel this is the games strongest link and adds a whole new dimension that Nintendo have made simple and easy to use. Even if you have the Wii Connect24 mode on, the console automatically downloads the latest rankings and ghost data! How about that...
I hope I've summed up everything you need to know. Mario Kart Wii is, surprisingly, a very in depth game that offers the biggest challenge yet - for the first time, the CPU changes difficulty depending on whether you're playing 50cc, 100cc or 150cc. Getting an A rank on all 8 of the different cups, on all 3 of the different classes is by no means a quick task! And I have every confidence that this offers many good times ahead...
- Online gaming is just perfect in everyway!
- The Graphics are beautiful
- The new range of items are balanced perfectly and make the game even funner
- Mario Kart Wii Channel offers a superbly competitive 'Ghost time' challenge! Read more ›