blasting off with mario Kart. Nintendo capitalizes on the nostalgia for childhood games like Mario, Link and Samus, allowing us to relive these classics with each new Nintendo system that comes out while allowing newcomers to indulge in some retro-gaming.
But, after spending a few hundred dollars for various versions of the same game on each Nintendo console, is "Mario Kart Wii" worth it?
A new wheel accessory and added online play through Nintendo's Wi-Fi connection give new value to the franchise. As you grip the plastic wheel (a separate, steering-wheel-shaped game controller in which you can mount the Wii remote, or Wiimote), your couch transmogrifies into a speedy go-kart. The spell is broken, however, with other controllers, such as the game pad, the Wiimote alone, or with the attached nunchuk controller. With those in hand, you might as well dust off your copy of Game Cube's "Mario Kart: Double Dash." By contrast, the wheel feels natural and requires engagement and focus. If the wheel is held carelessly, the kart will handle poorly and send you into a ditch.
Mario Kart's online play allows you to compete with other gamers worldwide. The Wi-Fi connection loads quickly and plays smoothly, making it a better option for playing with friends. No more sharing and racing on a divided screen in multiplayer; online players have their own full-screen view of the race. Through Mario Kart Channel, you can check your global ranking, participate in tournaments and download driver stats. What's frustrating about "Mario Kart Wii," and the Mario Kart series for that matter, is the lack of new game play. What Nintendo passes off as innovation is basically an elaboration of previous versions.
Even though "MK Wii" introduces 16 wildly new tracks, the other 16 are recycled from earlier games, and their sparse design belies the need for a face-lift. In order for the series to survive and make gamers happy, Nintendo is really going to have to pull out all the stops on the next title. Also, being the most skilled racer doesn't ensure victory. Because of the unbalanced, random power-ups that are picked up along the tracks, it's better to be lucky than good. Your lead can be shafted by a straggling, but conniving, opponent that picks up a Bullet Bill power-up, allowing him to rocket through the track bowling over others.
If I had never played a "Mario Kart" title, this would be a fantastic game to start with but if you have played the past "Karts" then you might be a bit disappointed. It's not that Nintendo's old franchises are unwelcome, but in order for them to keep us coming back, they need to do more than superficial updates.
Mario Kart Wii ★★★✩✩
Rated-E for Everyone. Publisher- Nintendo. Retail- $49.99 with Steering Wheel Attachment.