Ok, so, I know that Mario Kart Wii came out a long time ago... So long ago that I can't really remember (that it means much... I barely remember what I did yesterday). But, I figured I'd finally get my 2 cents in now that I've got a good handle on the game.
Alright, now, let me say first, I am a DIEHARD Wii Wheel fan. Omg... It makes me happy just to put it in my hands... Plus, I'm fairly adept with it (I can challenge all 32 Fast Staff Ghost times with it, Baby Luigi and the Bullet Bike), so that just makes it better. Having said that, I really like (for all Wii games) the ability to use multiple controller types. Mainly because, while I'm adept at steering and driving, some of my friends aren't... And sticking a Game-Cube controller in their hand or one of the other bazillion or so attachments to the Wii-mote instantly make them go from a consistent last place finisher to a contender, which makes it more fun for me.
Now, I will say that the Wii Wheel takes some adjustments. But, once you find the kart/bike that works for you... Then you should be able to take on anybody. Yea, sometimes I think I'm steering one way, hit the drift button and SMASH into the wall in the exact wrong direction or go rocketing off into a lava pit, but it's just an added challenge, and I likes me a challenge. Plus... How cute does one look holding a Wii Wheel? Honestly...
But enough about the Wiil (as I call it... afterall... there is a Wiimote)... Here's an actual review style...
- WII WHEEL... Nuff said.
- There are 2 cup styles... Wii and Retro. The Wii circuits are brand new courses (although some are reminiscent of old courses) that take advantage of new things the Wii can process (such as a moving floor...) The Retro circuits are well... Retro. Each circuit has courses from either N64 (my personal favorites), GameCube, GameBoy Advanced and GameBoy DS. These add a nice nolstalgic effect and can get old gamers (like my friends that are still stuck on MarioKart 64) to at least give it a try on familiar courses.
- Selection... There is a MINDBOGGLING amount of characters and karts/bikes in Mario Kart Wii. Firstly, they did something smart... There are now 3 separate weight-classes for drivers... Light, Medium and Heavy. Each weight-class has 6 karts and 6 bikes to choose from. There are 8 Light Drivers, 10 Medium Drivers and 8 Heavy Drivers. So... doing some quick math and adding up all the choices there is a possible 312 driver/bike combinations. That's a LOT. And, while people are saying "well... not quite since the light drivers will all be the same right? WRONG"
- Specialization... Each individual driver has a few stats that have added modifiers (although you really need to DIG on their website to find out). Like, in MarioKart 64, EVERYBODY knew that Toad was the fastest... Hands down. So, now, in a flat race between Baby Mario and Baby Luigi (both Light-weights), you never know what will happen because their added stats are a little different.
- Cool new items... Alright, now, it may be the cheapest item ever invented but the Bullet Bill is maybe the best item ever invented. It mixes up races without shafting a single opponent. The Bullet Bill is also handy when you get screwed over on the 150 cc cup and have to get back up into the middle of the pack, and eventually the lead... But more on that later.
- Choices... Yea, similar word to selection but different connotation here. There are a grand total of 8 cups that you can choose from (4 Wii and 4 Retro). Add 4 race styles (50 cc, 100 cc, 150 cc and Mirror), thats 32 total cups! OMG. So... if you want to do all those with every character/bike combo you get to 9984 possible choices... Yea, i know, nobody would do that, but still.
- Staff Ghosts... The game comes with one set of Staff Ghosts, some of which are REALLY tough to beat. But, on top of that, if you get a FANTASTIC time, you unlock a nearly impossible to beat fast Staff Ghost. It's fun to race the Fast Staff Ghosts, plus, by unlocking enough you get prizes and stuff.
- Unlockables... You only start off with a dozer or so drivers, and only 3 karts and 3 bikes per weight-class. That means everything else is EARNED. While some people say "I DON'T WANNA DO ALL THIS STUFF TO GET THIS CHARACTER" I say suck it up and just do it. Most of the characters are actually worth it (except for Daisy... but that's mainly because I hate her for getting 3 bonus stars in a game of Mario Party 8 to beat me... but that's another story) and the karts and bikes are actually really nifty.
- Positive Curve... As a game designer myself (or a budding one at least), there's something to be said that although the people in last suck and deserve to lose, they should at least get some help to at least help them to contend. This game does just that. The further back you are, the better the items you get (ex: you basically need to be in 10th or worse to get a Bullet Bill). PLUS, lets say that I'm in a 8th and get a Lightning Bolt item. When using it, I only shrink the people in front of me (so I don't penalize 9th-12th) and on top of that, the Lightning Bolt shrink timer increases the higher up you are (if you're in first, you'll be shrunk for a good 5-10 seconds).
- Challenge... The AI is pretty good... For example, I play with Baby Luigi on a Bullet Bike (a moderately light bike). On the 150cc and Mirror cups, the AI will ATTACK me when ever I do a wheelie. Just come up and knock me right off the course because they're heavier then me. Yea, it really pisses me off, but it's fun and challenging that the AI can actually put up somewhat of a fight... Even if I do always win by at least 5 seconds... Except for when the Cons step in...
- Negative Curve... Alright, as a game designer this part REALLY pisses me off. I understand that you want there to be a way to allow people to get back in the race. I'm all for that kind of challenge. BUT items like the BLUE TURTLE SHELL are killers. Especially at the 150cc and Mirror levels. Now, for those who don't know, karts/bikes run the fastest at 150cc, and slowest at 50cc. So, a 5 second lead in the 150cc or Mirror levels means NOTHING because 1 Blue Shell will send you down to 4th. PLUS, its never just one blue shell. I was playing today... In a 30 second span I was 1) Blue Turtle Shelled WHILE jumping over a lava pit (and feel in) 2) was passed as I was starting up again when ANOTHER blue turtle shell hits me... 3) Land just go get hit with a Red turtle shell from behind... 4) While landing from the red shell get hit by a POW block (I know they're dodgeable, but only while you have control of the vehicle and are driving, which I wasn't) and finally... 5) get hit by a reverse thrown green shell... That dropped me from 1st to 12th... On the 3rd lap... With 1/4th of the course left... And a 3 Star rank on the line... Granted, I still got 4th but stuff like that shouldn't happen. I know you can't tell the software "be nice to the guy that just got PWND but blue shells" but come on... The items are ridiculously cruel to those in first place and make it REALLY hard to keep a consistent lead with Blue Turtle Shells running around...
- Rainbow Road... Now, Rainbow Road on the N64 was one of my favorite courses EVER. The shortcut... was fantastic. This rainbow road DESTROYS all those happy memories. The course is long... There aren't barriers... The ground shimmers... The ground moves.. Overall, its just a really poorly executed course... Made worse by the next 2 cons...
- Angled Turns... Now, I took Mechanical Physics. I understand, to an extent, what happens when a car rounds a bend and how all the forces work. This game... does in no way... follow those laws... When you exit a rounded curve, you IMMEDIATELY skyrocket in the direction opposite of the curve (or maybe it just seems that way because of the camera angles). But, for example, on Rainbow Road, EVERY TURN is curved. It makes drifting corners almost out of the question unless you memorized the turns. It took me over 15 races to get a clean LAP on Rainbow Road. Also bad is Wario's Gold Mine, where at one point you go from a sharp right turn to a dip... and you immediately die on the left side if you drift unless you know its coming.
- "Plotted" jumps... There are certain jumps in the game that are just awful... There are half-pipe type jumps that can actually launch you BACKWARDS when hit at an improper angle... There are jumps that you hit in the middle of the jump, at the angle drawn on the floor, that DON'T launch you to the landing area and into a pit of lava (see Bowser's Castle in the Special Cup). But worst of all... Is Rainbow Road... There is one jump... it's an angled take-off, and its actually a REALLY cool jump that basically is like jumping over a gap using quarter pipes... Only problem is, sometimes, it'll make you land not on the landing pad. Or worse, it'll put you RIGHT on the corner of the landing area, and then BOOST you off the course... Like... wtf? You can't make sure that these spectacular jumps don't work properly? Or maybe I just suck... I dunno, sometimes in air directioning isn't easy when doing tricks...
- Mid-Air Wiil Usage... In order to do a trick on a jump using the Wiil, one must flick the controller upwards. Now, it's a cool concept. The only problem is, its NEARLY impossible to do this without having the damn thing believe that you're turning the controller. And, what makes this problematic... YOU FAIL AT EASY JUMPS CAUSE YOU LAUNCH DIRECTLY SIDEWAYS. But then again, maybe this is just my ineptitude...
Alright, overall... I must say, I love this game... Not afraid to say it. It keeps me occupied and challenged. I can't not try to get at least a Star Rank on every single cup (including my 3 Star Performance on the 150 cc Flower Cup, *chicka chicka yea*). The entire experience is just overall fun and enjoyable, only made better by the Wiil