The new Mario Kart for the Wii is good, and I guess thatís my biggest complaint with it, as Mario Kartís not supposed to be good, itís supposed to be great. And too many factorsóa few so-so tracks, a busted peripheral, and the greatest sin of all, rather lackluster multiplayerómake 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 Nintendoís part, as itís too cumbersome and twitchy to use in any competition outside of the easy as Pong 50cc cup.
Whatís so bad about it is its non-responsiveness and lack of stabilization in heated battles. Sure, when the areaís clear and youíre sitting pretty in first place, itís all fine and dandy (Which is why I said itís okay to use in the 50cc cup), but when the whole track is packed with other racers vying for first place, youíll find yourself sling shooting yourself all over the place just trying to get yourself back into racing position. Iíll give it to Nintendo, though, it was a good idea, it just didnít work out quite as they expected. Oh, well, at least the game controls as nicely as youíd 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 itís just because I havenít figured it out yet, but you canít do any tricks if youíre using the GC controller, and can only pull them off if youíre using the new Wii steering wheel. Lame.
But the wheelís 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 itís 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 theyíre only about 40 seconds long. If anything, at least theyíre a nice reminder of your childhood when life used to be simpler and gas was cheaper.
Iíll 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 theyíve 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 gameís 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, youíre not allowed to communicate with anybody verbally. It makes for a pretty bland experience that you wonít 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 Iíve ever had with any of the other Mario Kart titles in the series. Ever. But I guess thatís just because I expect greatness from it, and for the first time in the history of the series, that greatness has been slightly sullied. Donít get me wrong, though, definitely buy this game (Like you havenít already), but heed these wordsóMario 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.