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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Nintendo
Developer=d By: Nintendo
Genre: Racing
Players: 1-4 (12 Online)
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: April 27, 2008
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Writteny By: Rangebar Merani

For over 15 years, Mario Kart has been one of Nintendoís most beloved franchises due to its fun, fast-paced and easy to grasp gameplay. With its introduction to the Wii, the franchise has ditched the two-man kart concept of 2003ís Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GameCube) and has instead implemented a more casual and user-friendly style of play. Hell, they even included the Wii Wheel attachment to make the game seem even simpler and more interactive. On the other hand, Mario Kart Wii is the first online-ready game in the series, allowing up to 12 players to play at once by using Nintendoís Wi-Fi Connection.

When you first start up the game, youíre asked to create a drvierís license, which is essentially the user-profile that the game will be saved under. The neat thing about creating your license is the ability to register one of your Miis and have his or her picture on the license. The license will keep up with all trophies earned in the Grand Prix Mode and will also show your friend code, which you can give out to friends who want to play online. Nintendo did an awesome thing by including Mii support, not only with the licenses, but also as playable characters and spectators.

The biggest addition to Mario Kart Wii is, of course, the ability to play online. The Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection allows for up to 12 players, either regionally or worldwide, playing together in both VS and Battle Modes. Sadly, if you want to play with a friend youíll have to exchange friend codes just like in Super Smash Bros. Brawl or Mario Strikers Charged. Another weakness is that there is no voice or text chat when playing online. I really wish the people at Nintendo would get there heads on straight and just make it easier for gamers to get online and enjoy themselves. Even with these miscues, Mario Kart Wii online is by far the best online support Nintendo has given us. Hopefully weíll see if they can expand on the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection sometime soon.

Other than the new online mode, most of the other game modes are the same as previous Mario Kart installments. Grand Prix, Time Trial, VS and Battle are all back but with all new courses to play on, of course. 16 new courses and 16 old-school courses are playable in the game, but youíll have to unlock most of them by completing the Grand Prix mode. Completing the Grand Prix mode will also unlock secret characters such as King Boo, Diddy Kong and Rosalina (from Super Mario Galaxy).

Most of the old school courses are fan-favorites from the Super Nintendo, N64 and GameCube Mario Kart games. They also include a few maps from the DS and GBA Mario Karts, but I could have done without these and would actually prefer to see more courses from the N64 and GameCube installments. The Battle Mode consists of two games: Balloon Battle and Coin Runner. Along with new courses to race on, there are five new and five old-school stages to battle on. Although, half the courses in the game are new, they all feel very similar to past courses. One is a desert level, the other an ice level, another Rainbow Road course, etc. They could have used a little more originality when coming up with the new courses, but itís all good because theyíre still fun to play.

Mario Kart Wii uses four different control schemes to play with: the Wii Wheel (or simply the Wii-mote), the Wii-mote-Nunchuk combo, the Classic controller or the GameCube controller. Personally, I like using either the Wii Wheel or the Wii-mote-Nunchuk combo; after playing with the Wii Wheel for a little bit, youíll be accustomed to it and, honestly, itís quite fun to use. But the most efficient way to play is using the Wii-mote-Nunchuk combo, because you have the joystick to help you get those tight turns, while launching weapons with ease. Itís also really helpful when driving the new motorbikes and using the new trick system.

Yep, thatís right, I said motorbikes. Along with the old-school karts, Mario Kart Wii introduces a new way to ride in style with fresh, faster, wheelie-popping motorbikes. Along with the new motorbikes, is a new trick system that allows for players to perform a trick in mid-air by simply shaking the Wii-mote. If the trick is landed successfully, youíll get a short speed burst when landing. By tilting the Wii-mote up when riding a bike, youíll perform a wheelie thatíll give you a speed boost, but be careful not to try it while turning or you might lose control. Like I said before, the Wii-mote-Nunchuk combo is the best control scheme to work with the new trick system.

Most experienced Mario Kart vets will have no problem adjusting to this game, but that doesnít mean that theyíll always have the upper hand. With new overpowered items including the Bullet Bill and Mega Mushroom, some players will go from being dead last to being in first place in an instant. And donít forget about the deadly blue-spiked shell that goes straight for the player in first place. Man, do I hate those things. These overpowered items place a lot of luck in the game, but in most cases the more experienced player will usually come out on top.

There arenít too many graphical enhancements and youíll find the graphics to be very similar to that of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, only brighter and smoother. The frame rate slows down occasionally with local multiplayer, but other than that itís smooth sailing. The sound effects and music are pleasing and entertaining much like the previous games and the voice acting is always spot on with Mario and the gang.

After 15 years, and I say this with all honesty, Mario Kart is still fun as ever. Although the game feels like it was given the ďcasual party gameĒ treatment, the addition of online play, new motorbikes and a new trick system make it so much more than that. Experienced Mario Kart vets and new players to the series will both be in awe of how much fun this game really is. Mario Kart Wii is a must have for any Wii owner and one of the most enjoyable racing games to come out this year.


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