The new Mario Kart for the Wii is good, and I guess that’s my biggest complaint with it, as Mario Kart’s not supposed to be good, it’s supposed to be great. And too many factors—a few so-so tracks, a busted peripheral, and the greatest sin of all, rather lackluster multiplayer—make this racing adventure a slight wrong turn in the revolutionary series.
Let me get my biggest complaint with the game out of the way early. The new steering wheel that comes packaged with the game is an utter piece of garbage. What might seem like an innovative new way to play your favorite kart racer, turns out to be a tremendous misfire on Nintendo’s part, as it’s too cumbersome and twitchy to use in any competition outside of the easy as Pong 50cc cup.
What’s so bad about it is its non-responsiveness and lack of stabilization in heated battles. Sure, when the area’s clear and you’re sitting pretty in first place, it’s all fine and dandy (Which is why I said it’s okay to use in the 50cc cup), but when the whole track is packed with other racers vying for first place, you’ll find yourself sling shooting yourself all over the place just trying to get yourself back into racing position. I’ll give it to Nintendo, though, it was a good idea, it just didn’t work out quite as they expected. Oh, well, at least the game controls as nicely as you’d expect with the old-timey Gamecube controller, which worked wonders yet again in Super Smash Bros. Brawl only a few weeks ago. The only problem is, and maybe it’s just because I haven’t figured it out yet, but you can’t do any tricks if you’re using the GC controller, and can only pull them off if you’re using the new Wii steering wheel. Lame.
But the wheel’s not the only problem with the game, not by a long shot. Another concern is the twelve racers on the track instead of eight, which adds to the mess and confusion and, sad to say, higher frequency of being bombed by a blasted blue shell, which threw me to near insanity more times than I could count when I was knocked from first place all the way to eighth in literally the blink of an eye.
Also of note is the fact that some of the tracks are just plain lame (Moo Moo Meadows equals yuck), but at least there are a lot of tracks (32 in total, 16 new, 16 old but updated) to tide you over for quite some time.
And then there are the bikes, which I absolutely love since they add a whole new dimension to the rip rollicking action. Shifting into turns with the speedy bikes is an absolute blast, and it’s fun to watch Toad go flying off into the stratosphere when Bowser comes around a corner with a mushroom, knocking him high into the sky. I also like a majority of the tracks in the game (Maple Treeway and the new Rainbow Road are my absolute favorite tracks ever), and dig how intricate they are. When compared to the older, retro tracks that can be found in the game, you start to wonder what the great appeal was for some of the N64 and SNES tracks, as they’re only about 40 seconds long. If anything, at least they’re a nice reminder of your childhood when life used to be simpler and gas was cheaper.
I’ll have to give a major thumbs down to the battle tracks, though. Even though there are many of them, both old and new, it just seems like they’ve grown past their welcome. And multiplayer, always the greatest highlight for the series in my opinion, actually pales in comparison to the surprisingly deep single player mode, which adds a great deal of difficulty to the later cups in the game.
Also of note is the lame online feature, which I was heavily looking forward to early on in the game’s development. Playing its online feature is pretty much like playing the computer as it actually feels that soulless. Like all Wii games built with online in mind, you’re not allowed to communicate with anybody verbally. It makes for a pretty bland experience that you won’t be enjoying as much as you might have planned.
As you can see, I have mixed feelings about the game, which was never a problem I’ve ever had with any of the other Mario Kart titles in the series. Ever. But I guess that’s just because I expect greatness from it, and for the first time in the history of the series, that greatness has been slightly sullied. Don’t get me wrong, though, definitely buy this game (Like you haven’t already), but heed these words—Mario Kart Wii is good, but not great. The sooner you get that through your lemon-colored cranium, the sooner you can get to start having fun with this flawed, albeit fun, little racer that could.