Ending B

Gotta catch 'em all

My morning began with helping a friend obtain a Wii. Due to work, she could not purchase one of our local Circuit City's Wii's right when the store opened because as Wii all know, Wii's don't last very long on the shelf. While standing in line waiting to buy the Wii, I noticed that they had copies of the latest installment of the popular Mario Kart series, Mario Kart Wii. Ever since I received a copy of Super Mario Kart for Christmas in 1992, I've been hooked. Knowing I would pick this game up eventually and not having bought a video game in quite a while, I decided to pick it up for myself. I've played about 6 Grand Prix's so far and my overall consensus so far is this: It's good. Not ZOMFG THIS GAME IS THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD but definitely good. Without further delay, I'll start.

Control Schemes- The first thing you'll notice is that the game comes with a new accessory- The Wii Wheel. Shaped like a steering wheel, it allows you to play Mario Kart Wii as if you were driving a car. The wheel also has a spot in the middle for the Wii Remote to plug in. There is also an enlarged "B" button on the back of the wheel because the back of the wheel covers the Wii Remote's "B" button. The wheel is not required to play the game. You can play it by rotating the Wii Remote like a steering wheel, connecting a nunchuck to a Wii Remote and using it to steer, a Gamecube controller or a Classic controller. So far, I have only played it with the Wii Wheel and Solo Wii Remote. I prefer the Wii Wheel. I feel that the sensitivity of the steering is a bit too high and the wheel helps compensate for this. While using the solo Wii Remote, there were a few times when I tried making a sharp turn and ended up making a 180 instead. While making the same turns with the wheel, I made them with relative ease. The game is still playable with a solo Wii Remote but more enjoyable with the Wii Wheel. Nonetheless, I still find myself occasionally having trouble staying on the road even when using the Wii Wheel.

Drivers- All of the classics are here: Mario, Luigi, Toad, ect. The game starts out by only letting you choose between 12 characters but the more Cups’ you win and the better you do in them, more characters become unlocked. Drivers have their strengths and weaknesses, as does each kart. Some are better at handling while others are faster.

Levels- Mario Kart Wii offers 8 cups to choose from. From what I can gather, 4 of them are comprised of entirely new levels where you'll race through such places as a mall, a ski resort and an abandoned mine. The other 4 are made up of levels from previous Mario Kart games with updated graphics for the Wii.

Game play- The main objective is to still race around throwing stuff at each other and try to collect as many points as possible. Each course is still 3 laps around and contains speed boosters, item boxes and numerous obstacles...stuff any Mario Kart player should be familiar with. I've heard from a few spots on the internets (mostly /v/) that the difficulty has increased since Double Dash. Based on what I know about the game, I have a few theories in hand. The first is one of the most noticeable differences in the game. There are 12 racers competing instead of the usual 8 (OK, Double Dash technically had 16). This means that there are now 4 more opponents racing against you and 4 more opponents eager to dish out whatever they can throw at you, which they will with no hesitation. You thought the blue shells and lightning bolts were annoying in Mario Kart 64 and Double Dash? You'll be sure to encounter more than you'd like to here. Speaking of items, this leads me to my second observation. While in 1st place you'll usually get only 1 of 4 items- 1 green shell, 1 fake item box, 1 banana peel, or 3 banana peels. No mushrooms, triple shells of any kind, or red shells. The practice of diminishing the quality of items with increasing your position is no new idea, but the developers certainly stepped it up a notch in Mario Kart Wii. Fortunately, this applies to the A.I. characters too so once they move their way up into 1st place, they won't stay there for long. My final observation comes from a previous paragraph. While playing with the Wii Wheel or a solo Wii Remote, it is more difficult to control yourself. So while you're busy trying to dodge shells and bananas and other drivers, you're also trying to just stay on the road. Also important to note about the difficulty it that is really starts to show in the 100cc circuit, at least, if you're familiar with Mario Kart. 50cc is still easy.

WiFi- Like Super Smash Brothers Brawl, Mario Kart Wii can also be played online. Only vs. and battle are accessible online. I haven't tried it out yet but I hear lag is minimal.

Toad Brigade- No mention of them. I am hurt. The crazy island people from Super Mario Sunshine are still present in the award ceremony but the Toad Brigade? No mention whatsoever.

Bottom line: I'm glad I bought Mario Kart Wii. It's fun and I want to unlock the other levels and characters. Who knows? Maybe the Toad Brigade will have their own level or their spaceship can be unlocked!