Mario Kart Wii delivers the frantic fun from previous installment
>Huge variety of tracks, old classics and new, imaginative, well designed courses.
>The best Online Play seen on the Wii yet with almost no lag what-so-ever.
>The same frantic and addictive fun from past Mario Kart titles.
>Snaking has been removed.
>The new stunt system is great.
>Some Character Models are blocky.
>Some characters voices are terrible
>No Voice Chat Online.
When Mario Kart DS hit shelves, I think it is safe enough to get away with saying it was the best Mario Kart yet. It delivered the fun found in previous titles, topped it and added online play. Then Mario Kart Wii was announced, gamers got excited. Nintendo then revealed the Wii Wheel and playable Bikes. Gamers began to worry.
Well for all those that worried, shame on you. Mario Kart Wii still has the magic found in the previous titles; the familiar, addictive gameplay is there, only now it's even better.
Lets get the basics out of the way first. There are 12 playable characters for you to choose from at the start, with a whole host to unlock. A couple of these hidden characters will surprise you, especially the one's that haven't appeared in a Mario Kart game yet. Each character is divided into their usual weight class once again; light, medium and heavy. At first each weight class has a choice of three different karts and bikes, but there are a lot more to unlock as you progress.
Like in Mario Kart DS, there are some new tracks and those that are old. The total amount of courses are 32 with 16 of them being new, well designed courses and the other 16 being carefully hand-picked classics. Although, some of the new tracks are curiously similar to ones in older Mario Kart titles (Luigi Circuit and Moo Moo Meadows have more than a slight ring of Double Dash!! and Mario Kart 64 to them). That said, the majority are fantastic and offer experiences never seen before with little quirks never in them.
For example, Koopa Cape has a downhill stream going through the middle of the track, so it is worth trying to time your powerslides so you go through the stream and get an extra speed boost.
The retro tracks have been given a polish, so even the SNES tracks look nice and 3D. Every game in the series has a representative (except the Arcade titles) with four N64, DS nad GameCube tracks and two tracks a piece from the SNES and GBA titles. So whatever your favourite Mario Kart game may be, there should be something here to keep you happy.
Of course, the proof is in the gameplay, the one area where all Mario Kart games are truly scrutinised. Thankfully,it's great. Don't be under the impression of all that, "the Wii is a fancy GameCube" rubbish, and that "this is just an updated version of Double Dash!!" If anything, it's an updated version of Mario Kart DS (obviously much better looking). And that is not a bad thing.
Mario Kart Wii has four big gameplay differences. The first of these is the obvious inclusion of the Wii Wheel. Believe it or not, the wheel actually works. Sure it is just a plastic shell and shouldn't really make a huge difference, but it really does add more atmosphere. What's more, the steering has a larger "dead-zone" than Excite Truck did, meaning there is a reasonable degree of leeway in how much you can turn the wheel before your kart starts turning. Thus giving you more control.
If the Wii Wheel isn't your think, you can try out one of the other control methods Mario Kart Wii has up for selection. The Wiimote and Nunchuck, Gamecube Controller or Classic Controller. In all honesty, I prefer the Wii Wheel over going old-school with the GameCube or Classic Controllers, I thought the opposite was going to happen.
The second big difference is the removal of snaking. Ever since the N64 game, Mario Kart had included the ability to get a speed boost by waggling the controls left and right as you powerslide. This has finally been scrapped, and now your speed boost is determined by how long you can hold your slide. This really does make the online feel more fun instead of having the usual snake-fest.
Thirdly there are now "tricks" that can be performed by flicking the control upwards after going off a jump, giving you a nice speed boost once landing. There is no danger of failing the trick or having to learn tricky button combinations. It totally changes the way you think about races and is a great substitute for snaking.
Finally, the bikes. They were a controversial inclusion, but the truth is the work very well. Sure they are a little harder to control than karts as they turn more and quicker bbut the only main difference is that instead of getting orange sparks when performing a powerslide, bikes can only get blue boosts. This may seem unfair, but in return bikes can perform wheelies by flicking the controller up at any time.
As if all this wasn't enough, the online options are the best ever seen on a Nintendo console. You can take part in enormous 12-player races, create your own private race room and download challenges and ghost records sent by Nintendo which are ranked worldwide. You can even use your friends list to compare your Time Trail records of your pals anf, if they're slower, send them your ghost data for that lap and challenge them to beat it.
And to top that off, the online play features pretty much no lag at all. I myself haven't featured any and I hope it will stay that way.
Despite initial fears, Mario Kart Wii is actually one of the most enjoyable racing games and Wii game that I have ever played. This is fantastic fun and whether you are a casual gamer or Mario kart die-hard, this is truly an essential game; one that you will be playing for months to come.