Mario Kart Wheeeeee!

My experience with Mario Kart goes all the way back to the original SNES version, which was an awesome game, I must have been about 11 or 12 at the time, so for me it’s one of those old nostalgic games and playing through the SNES tracks on the Wii version brings it all back – the intricately taken corners, the desperation for a red shell, the feeling of cataclysmic disappointment as you’re pipped at the post – it’s all back!

There are 8 cups in all, with 4 tracks each, giving an impressive total of 32 tracks. The new tracks that have Mario Kart Wii - Toadbeen bought in for the Wii version are fantastic, each as original and attention-grabbing as the next. Then of course there is the mind-boggling Rainbow Road – a fixture in all mario kart games; Nintendo have really gone crazy with the Wii’s Rainbow Road!

Mario Kart has always been a challenging game, one that rewards skill and mastery. As with all Mario Kart games, there is a heavy degree of ‘computer interference’. You may start calling that ‘cheating’ after the 8th time Peach smashes you with a red shell just as you’re about to cross the line on the last lap! Although, naturally if you’re not an amazing player you’re not as prone to the Blue Spikey Shell (otherwise known as the ‘spikey bunnet’) and other various flukes, courtesy of the NPCs, such as three red shells in a row or pricision aimed bananna throws.

As always, theres the 50cc, 100cc and 150cc races which can be translated as the difficulty settings;

  • 50cc – pretty easy to come first (if you know what you’re doing);
  • 100cc – bit of a jump up the difficulty curve (aka ‘these guys are cheating b******s!’);
  • 150cc – I hope you’re already bald because you’ll be tearing your hair out (aka ‘crouching girlfriend, flying Wiimote’ mode).

As you progress through the difficulties and cups you’ll unlock new karts, bikes and characters, some of whome seem pretty useless, but the more masterful may find a use for them. There’s also the battle mode which originally featured in the N64 incarnation, which is alright with four people, but the fun really lies in the racing.

I’ve so far managed to finish the 50cc cups and I’ve started into the 100cc cups, there’s a marked difference in difficulty and I reckon the majority of players will be happy getting half way through the 100ccs and dabble in the more difficult ones.

The online mode is fantastic, it’s really seamless and easy to use. If you have friends registered already (see playing your Wii friends), you can join games with them and the remaining slots will be filled with other random players from around the globe. Provided you have a decent broadband connection the latency is pretty good and unnoticeable for the most part. The best part of the online mode is that it totally removes the NPC cheating element, meaning if someone beats you, they were the better racer. There remains the random element, of course, as you’re never sure what item you’re going to get and sometimes it all comes down to just that – a golden mushroom can be a lifesaver on the last lap!

Lets not forget the split-screen multiplayer mode which is where Mario Mart Wii really shines! There is nothing better than feeling the anguish from your buddy as you knock them off the track and down a dark. pit. Mario Kart will truly bring even the quietest of players out of their shell. You can also have a maximum of two players in split-screen mode playing online.

There’s a lot more besides and I could ramble on and tell you about it but I won’t, lest to say that this is the most pure gaming experience I’ve had for a while and is, without doubt, the best Mario Kart since the original appeared way back in 1992.

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