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Mario Kart Wii

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Written by DM on Saturday, April 26 2008

Back during the Super Nintendo days, there was a little racing game called Mario Kart that ended up becoming one of the system’s most beloved and time-tested titles to date. Since then, there has been at least one Kart game on every home Nintendo console, and some for the handhelds as well. Every time a new versions hits retail, the masses who spent hours upon hours mastering the last Mario Kart game get all bent out of shape when they find out about the differences. Fortunately, those of us who have clearer heads know that changes are the way that games stay fresh, and you can add and/or subtract from games without changing the core of what they are. Nintendo is an expert at this, and Mario Kart is the best example of the principle in action. Mario Kart Wii brings what is arguably the biggest change to the series – the ability to use the Wii’s motion control to play.

Mario Kart Wii is the latest addition to the Kart franchise, as I said, and like its predecessors, it can be a pick up and play game for anyone who wants to jump right in and have fun. The game itself is filled with everything Nintendo, from the track environments to the Kart drivers themselves. On top of that, if racing is not your cup of tea, you can always jump into battle mode and take on your buddies. Both can provide hours of fun, and the concept is easy enough for even young children to grasp.

As I said, the Mario Kart games have never been the Kart game people think of when they think of a hardcore, deep, racer, but on the other hand, it is not entirely simplistic either. The game can be excelled at with practice, and Nintendo has made sure to have features that can only be perfected by players who practice. In other words, if you are looking for the end all be all of Kart racers, this is certainly not it, but if you are looking for a game where you can excel beyond the casual masses with practice, then you are in luck. More on how, later.

The Wii iteration of Mario Kart offers some special changes and additions due to the motion sensing controls used. As is customary, Nintendo offers several control options. You can use the Wiimote and Nunchuck, or you can use the classic controller, or you can even use the Gamecube controller, which the “hardcore” players insist is the only way to go. Of course, there is also the one option that Nintendo wants to promote the most, the Wii wheel. This is a solid, wheel-shaped piece of plastic that the Wiimote pops into. You then literally steer as if you were inside the Kart. Like most Wii games, before I played I was thinking that it couldn’t possibly work well enough to be a viable alternative to the other controls options. And yet again, Nintendo has surprised me. The Wii wheel is arguably the second best option for controlling your Kart. The response is tight, the buttons are in the right place, and it even makes drifting easier than using the analog pad once you get it down pat. I would certainly recommend giving the wheel a fair shot before you write it off.

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