We all know what Mario Kart is and most of us have grown up with it since the days of the SNES, the N64 and right up to the not so distant past on the GameCube and the DS.
At last it’s come to the Wii complete with a wheel casing to put your remote inside and what it’s been crying out for in full glory since it worked very nicely on the DS – full Wi-Fi multiplayer support.
I’m going to assume you know how the game works so I’ll go into what’s new, what works and what doesn’t to save us all time. First, let’s talk about the wheel. Surprisingly it works very well indeed, You slot your remote into it and tilt the wheel to steer, pressing the buttons that now face you on the remote to accelerate, hop, powerslide, fire weapons and boost. It’s actually more than just a gimmick and fun to use in single player – however you’ll want to switch to the more conventional steering with the Nunchuck or a classic or GameCube controller if you want to be taken seriously online. More about that in a second.
Strangely, you can only use bikes in 100cc mode, These are brand new to the series and turn sharper which take some getting used to. They can also boost on the straights if you pop a wheelie by flicking the wheel or remote. This is also to do a stunt off a jump in a bike or kart where you’ll also earn boost when you land.
There’s a mix of new and classic courses from days of old and some new weapons – a mushroom that makes you extra large, a POW block that zaps everyone and a cloud which hovers over you until you pass it to someone else – do it quick or it’ll zap you.
Multiplayer actually trumps the single player this time around. Up to 12 players around the world can instantly join a race and once you enter friend codes, you can hop into a friend’s race if they’re online – it’s seamless and there’s no lag whatsoever. Konami should look at this for their latest version of Pro Evo. You can even send ghost data of time trial maps for your friends to beat and beating them can become obsessive. There are even ghosts of Nintendo big wigs to beat and beating them gives you a warm feeling of smugness.
The only thing that lets MK down is what always has in the past – the randomness of how you lose or win. If you’re at the front you’ll pick up feeble items that are about as much use as a chocolate teapot. If you’re at the back, you’ll get everything under the sun to fire ahead which could leap you into the lead even if you race badly. Sometimes you get the feeling the AI opponents are cheating which can be galling the 10th time you try to complete a cup in 150cc mode.
Still, it’s no wonder this game is selling out everywhere still. It’s great single player and seamless multiplayer. It gets a whopping 9 out of 10.