Casual Review: Mario Kart Wii

Today I bought Mario Kart Wii, an instant buy, as we have played the previous games way too much. This is a very short, first-day review, only meant to act like a casual comment of my first impressions with the game.

Pros:

  • The steering wheel is awesome! It feels great, even if you can accidentally hit the B-button on the underside when in menus, the driving experience is very nice, considering it’s only a piece of plastic. I guess it’s much due to how the software work. I find it harder to play without the wheel, as you have to hold the controller with the face buttons facing you, which doesn’t come naturally for me.
  • New level elements! I love conveyor belts (both linear and crossing!), the bouncy mushrooms that launches you in the air and the half-pipe-ish boost sections which launches you in crazy arcs above that track!
  • Much tighter fights. Somehow, it seems like there are always a ton of vehicles at the front of the race, so if you crash as #1, you might end up as #5, #8, #11 or last, no problem! It is a bit crazy, but keeps everyone in the game, never give up!
  • Bikes. Sure, it’s a bit weird to have bikes in a kart game, but they add a new dimension to how you steer your vehicle, with wheelies, lighter wheight and sharp turns.
  • Looks. When I watched screenshots, I thought the game looked ugly, old, flat and boring. Now when I play through the levels, I think it’s gorgeous, fantastic, wonderful and thrilling! Kind of weird, but I guess motion adds a lot, but the design sure is great.
  • Team play! Team play is fun, even if the computer players might be the deciding factor, it lends the game a co-op feeling.
  • Online play! There are still friend codes! (gah!) But we have a friends list in the game to play private games with peeps we know! It might be a bit uncomfortable to setup, but it works fine.

Cons:

  • No options for multiplayer, it seems to always be 100cc, there doesn’t seem to be any options anywhere. Crazy item-box, I miss! Update: There is a rules button on the Solo/Team Race selection screen which we had totally missed, as we do that selection really quickly. There you can change things around, like CPU difficulty/off, items, vehicles, etc.
  • There is no co-op mode to win cups. As co-op gaming is what I prefer above all other, and the fact that I play mostly multiplayer, it kind of sucks to only be able to play all tracks after sitting down solo with it. We take turns to play cups now, but not for long, multiplayer mayhem is this game’s forte.
  • No LAN mode. I was thrilled about the 12 player feature of the game. But, it seems to only be available for online play, not local LAN play. One of the features I have looked forward to since I heard the Wii had build in wireless LAN, was to play LAN games with my friends. Just dumping the consoles in a room with a bunch of TVs and then running it all wirelessly would be neat, but as is, that still hasn’t happened. Right now we would need to gather six consoles, six TVs and have a broadband connection to play a local game, which in reality would be online.
  • Computer players. The race is always full of computer players, if you don’t fill the slots with human players. It does keep the game chaotic, action filled, and messy! But sometimes I would like to only play against my friends, even if we can only play four people. Especially in the battle games. Update: Changeable with the before mentioned race rules screen.
  • No voice or text chat online. Sure, it’s more important that the game runs smoothly and doesn’t lag when playing a racing game, but when playing with IRL friends over the internet, I want voice communication, as that’s what I’m used to playing over XBL or on the PC. We can’t even freely text chat in the game room before a race, not even with friends only, there are only predefined speech bubbles to choose from which feels very limiting when trying to communicate.

Even if I miss a few things, it seems to be a great game :) and right now, four of my local friends has also bought the game, so there will probably be a few online matches! We just have to decide what we’ll use for voice communication.

Oh, and my Mario Kart Wii friend code is: 3566-1696-9741

About Andreas Aronsson

Professional app- & web-developer. Spare time multimedia experimenter, VR-enthusiast, motorcyclist. In Sweden.
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