Author Topic: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout  (Read 13730 times)

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Offline WindyMan

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Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« on: May 24, 2008, 12:07:49 AM »
http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/blogArt.cfm?artid=16008

  Every time I play Mario Kart Wii online, the one game I can't help comparing it to is Wipeout Pulse for the PSP.   The two games are about as far apart as you can get on the arcade side of the racing genre family tree, but I see an underlying similarity that one game gets right and the other gets so, so wrong.  Take a wild guess as to which is which.    


Since their inceptions, the Mario Kart and Wipeout series have both used weapons and items as a means to spice up gameplay.  The games have completely different styles and features, but they are still racing games and share basic items and weapons.  Mario Kart has green shells and Wipeout has rockets.  There are red shells and then there are homing missiles.  For Nintendo's smiling banana peels there are anti-hovercraft mines.  Mushrooms and turbo boosts are one in the same.  The variations between the two games picks up from there, but the core idea behind weaponry is that it gives slower players a chance to counter faster players, and add an additional layer of strategy against those of equal skill.    


Mario Kart is notorious for making "random" item pickups based on your position in the field.  If you have a big lead during a race and hit a question mark box, you know you're going to get a banana peel or green turtle shell.  (Not much of a question, is it?)  This is especially ridiculous toward the start of a race, since someone in seventh or eighth could still be a few kart-lengths away from the leader, get a high-powered item, work their way to the front, and then use it to check out from the field.  Conversely, someone bringing up the rear that really needs some help to get back into the fight may instead be presented with a blue turtle shell.  Not only does it not help the guy using it, it can screw up the results of the race up front.  It doesn't make sense!    


Wipeout's system of item distribution is much fairer for the entire field.  Instead of giving gifts to the back-markers and penalizing trailblazers, as is the case in Mario Kart, running over a weapon pad in a Wipeout game will give you a random item no matter your position in the field.  More powerful weapons and items have a smaller probability of being picked up, balancing out the fact that the leaders and the also-rans have the same chance to pick up the same items.  In Mario Kart, getting the good stuff is common for the rear of the field—too common.  While it always prevents the people up front from decimating the field with lucky item grabs, it's still an unfair and unbalanced system.    


Granted, the random system in Wipeout means leaders can sometimes get lucky with items and get a lot of turbo boosts and mines and easily pull away from the field.  Statistically, though, it's rare that will happen.  That's the beauty of the design.  Certain items are useless to the leading player in a Wipeout race, especially the more powerful ones.  The quake disruptor can take out everyone in the field if it's used by the player in last place.  If you're leading, there will be no one ahead of you to take advantage of it, rendering it useless.  The same is true with forward-firing power weapons like the plasma bolt and homing missile.  While the leader can still pick up useful items, the percentage of picking up a less useful or useless item increases simply because there would be no one ahead of them to shoot at.    


Wipeout also has boost pads littered about track, which are often positioned next to weapon pads so that you can only use one or the other.  By skipping the boost and going for the item, the leader is taking a small risk.  You know the boost will help you pull away a little bit, but you don't know if the random item will.  Do you risk the sure thing for a big payoff that may not be there?  This helps make Wipeout's weapon system balance itself out, since people in the back are more likely to want to get an item to help close the gap with from those ahead, making it statistically favorable they'll get something useful more often than the leader.  Leaders trying the same thing may find themselves slowly being reeled in by those who forgo some item pickups and opt to hit every boost pad in an attempt to race back to the front.    


In Mario Kart, on the other hand, the predictable item distribution means that it's only a matter of time before you get clocked with a blue turtle shell while winning, often in the late stages of a race when you have no chance of getting back to the front.  Getting banana peels and green turtle shells while leading is actually a good thing, since you can block incoming shell attacks and drop them in high-traffic areas.  That would actually increase your chances of staying ahead, making it more unfair for those directly behind you.  You'll get these convenient items with every item pickup, which you can get around the next bend.  And the next one.  And the three or four after that.    


With the "random" MK item generator, it's possible that players in second or third place could have a much harder chance of catching up.  Even with red turtle shells, the leader can just block them with his or her endless supply of discarded fruit.  All they can realistically hope for (or rather, wait for) is the blue turtle shell to knock out first place.  Mario Kart Wii online players who are good at the game will know this is the case.  For me, I dread leading a close race because of the inevitable blue shell of death.  Yet, if I fall behind early enough I know that that getting back to the front is only a matter of time.  The only way to ensure victory in spite of a late-race BSoD is to be so far ahead that I'm not racing anyone.  Either way, the game is much less fun to play.    


What I'd like to see Nintendo try with the Mario Kart formula is to tweak the item distribution system so it's similar to that of Wipeout.  In other words, make it purely random.  I wouldn't mind the blue shell at all if 1) it had an equal chance of being picked up by anyone in any position at any time and 2) it was a relatively rare item.    


If straight random system was in place, I could just as easily pick up the blue shell while leading the race.  Then what good would it do me?  Not only would I have a weapon that would blow me up if I dared used it, I couldn't pick up another item until I did.  This would give those behind me ample opportunity to catch up to me using any old weapon or item they happened to come across.  In the rare occurrence that someone behind me got the blue shell, it would be a case of being on the wrong end of someone's fortunate slot machine pull.  I can live with that instead of having a guarantee that every other race someone will hit a jackpot that neither he nor I will ever get to collect on.    


For Wipeout's system to be effective in Mario Kart, a few things would need to change.  First, the item selection would do well to be simplified.  Some of the new ones are awful, like the thunder cloud. Crap like that doesn't make for good racing.  It should be the basics (bananas, shells, mushrooms, stars, lightning bolts) and maybe a few specialty items like the bloober or bob-omb.  That's it.  That's all we need for good, clean, and fair online racing.    


The second thing that needs to happen is to make some item boxes on the track a little harder to get to.  In Mario Kart Wii, item boxes are everywhere.  Too many items are littering the track and making it too easy to get caught up in someone else's mess.  On top of that, the leader is always going to have clear access to items, leaving those behind for item boxes that may not be there.  If half of the item boxes around a track were placed in a position that made players need to choose between grabbing an item or cutting a corner, the decisions on how to close the gap between positions would be made by the players on the race track, not the game's ridiculous rubber band methodology.    


Of course, I understand that Mario Kart is designed so that players of all ages can pick up the game and get into it right away.  Wipeout is definitely geared toward the hardcore crowd.  It's just really puzzling to me how Nintendo decided to incorporate online rankings, something designed to tell you who the best players are, into a game where the best player in a given race can easily not win it because of the unbalanced item distribution system.  How do I know that someone with a high ranking hasn't won most of their races by getting a blue turtle shell gift from that guy in 11th place?    


The Wipeout method of item use during races ensures that anyone can compete for the win if the items and weapons fall their way.  As long as people are competent enough to navigate the tracks with a good bit of speed, three or four items and weapons in the right place will give them a chance to compete for the win.  Mario Kart method, particularly in the Wii version, ensures that everyone will win eventually, screwing someone over in the process.  Most times, those winners will be handed their prize on a (tarnished) silver platter.  I don't know about you, but I'd rather have a hard-fought, well-deserved third- or fourth-place finish instead of a win gifted to me by someone half a lap behind me.    


Playing the game online and seeing the items ruin a lot of my races, in one way or another, tells me that Nintendo thought adding leaderboards would be all that was needed to appease the hardcore crowd.  Perhaps it did.  But Nintendo did not, and was never going to, change what really matters to cater to the hardcore crowd.  Most of my friends agree that the game has changed for the worse in a blatant attempt by Nintendo to make it more accessible to everyone.  In and of itself, I have no problem with that.  But if the Super Smash Bros. games can truly satisfy everyone from top to bottom, why not Mario Kart?

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Offline UncleBob

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2008, 02:53:42 PM »
I love items in Mario Kart - to me, they're what makes Mario Kart different from other games.

I do agree with the lack of a truly random item distribution - however, I disagree about the types of items included and the idea that there should be less item boxes...

This entire situation could be solved by a simple Item Switch screen.  Settings to turn on/off individual (or all) items and turn up and down the frequency of the item's appearance.  For example, you could turn off the Blue Shell completely... or set it as low as 1% (i.e.: approx 1 in every 100 items).  Or, as suggested, make it so the Blue Shell is the *only* item to appear. :) :) :)

Then, individual gamers could tailor the settings to their individual desires.
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Offline RABicle

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2008, 06:04:37 PM »
Steven this is fucken bullshit and you know it.

Maybe Mario Kart should start taking notes from WipEout if it want's to fall into obscurity and irrelevance. No one plays WipEout anymore. Also jesus christ you found a lot of ways to complain about a single issue, the blue shell.
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Offline Crimm

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2008, 06:05:25 PM »
If every item were a Blue Shell the race would never end.
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Offline RABicle

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2008, 06:21:12 PM »
Me Deg Bill and Mario have had some prtty intense Mario Kart DS matches where 3 of us or so are holding a blue shell at once. It becomes ferociously tactical.
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Offline Shift Key

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2008, 06:54:34 PM »
Does anyone actually have some statistics to back up this "there's too many blue shells in the game" claim? Has anyone cared to get off their soapbox and investigate this?

No, of course not. Its easier to shout at the top of your lungs.

This isn't just to Windy of course, but I'm getting tired of the same old argument being trotted out without anything factual.

Offline shammack

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2008, 06:59:02 PM »
When I started playing, I counted blue shells.  I was hit by 18 over the course of the four cups of 50cc.  After that I stopped counting.

Offline DAaaMan64

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2008, 07:03:42 PM »
I seriously wonder if Blue Shells are more common in 50cc than they are in 150cc.
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Offline shammack

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2008, 07:06:23 PM »
I think it's just easier to be in first in 50cc.  That's the problem with trying to get statistics on the frequency of the items... it depends on how well you're doing, which pretty much depends on how badly you're getting screwed by the items.

Offline WindyMan

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2008, 07:45:44 PM »
Does anyone actually have some statistics to back up this "there's too many blue shells in the game" claim? Has anyone cared to get off their soapbox and investigate this?

No, of course not. Its easier to shout at the top of your lungs.

This isn't just to Windy of course, but I'm getting tired of the same old argument being trotted out without anything factual.

You're not going to see (or notice) as many blue shells if you're not in a position to get hit by them all the time.  I swear to god I'm seeing a blue shell every two out of three races, and getting hit by one at the worst possible times.

I would not have a beef about this if Mario Kart's item system was completely randomized and the blue turtle shell showed up less frequently.  That's all I'm saying.
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Offline Dasmos

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2008, 11:22:43 PM »
When I started playing, I counted blue shells.  I was hit by 18 over the course of the four cups of 50cc.  After that I stopped counting.

When I started playing, I counted the times blue shells would affect my first placing in the race. None of the blue shells that hit me made any difference to my position while in 50cc. I never did get to start counting.

Also I prefer Mario Kart's system by far compared to a completely randomised selection. Cry about Blue Shells all you want, but crying about last place getting a good item? Please.
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Offline Jamaican Mario Scholar

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2008, 11:59:32 PM »
In the original there was only one cluster of boxes per lap, and only occasionally a few extras were strewn elsewhere in strategic spots, AND they only worked once. It would be so hardcore if they brought that back. Also, what if you could stop the item spinning like a slot machine is supposed to work?

Offline blackfootsteps

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2008, 02:11:33 AM »
Me Deg Bill and Mario have had some prtty intense Mario Kart DS matches where 3 of us or so are holding a blue shell at once. It becomes ferociously tactical.

Heh, who was the unlucky sucker without one?
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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2008, 07:08:06 AM »
I rarely get hit by blue shells.

When im miserably behind and have no hope of catching up, i almost always get a cloud only to push me further back. The rubber band works both ways, it will throw you back up to front or it will punish you for being last.

Offline Mario

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2008, 08:21:22 AM »
AHAHAHAHAHAHAUHAUHWAUHA

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

The Blue Shell DOES NOT APPEAR ENOUGH! IT"S UNDERPOWERED! 2nd place cops WAY MORE SHIT than FIRST PLACE. 80% of the time NO BLUE SHELLS APPEAR, and EVERYONE IS FIGHTING OVER 2ND WHILE FIRST FLIES OFF INTO THE DISTANCE. ARE YOU EVEN PLAYING THE GAME.

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

If you think item management and strategy detracts from the game rather than adds to it, then you're just plain dumb with a small poo brain.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2008, 08:23:04 AM by Mario »

Offline UltimatePartyBear

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2008, 08:52:15 AM »
In the original there was only one cluster of boxes per lap, and only occasionally a few extras were strewn elsewhere in strategic spots, AND they only worked once. It would be so hardcore if they brought that back. Also, what if you could stop the item spinning like a slot machine is supposed to work?

Give whoever this is a prize.  It required much more tactical thinking to use items when you only got one shot per lap.  The series used to be a fun twist on a racing game.  Now the twist has become the game.

Offline NinGurl69 *huggles

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2008, 09:37:16 AM »
AHAHAHAHAHAHAUHAUHWAUHA

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

The Blue Shell DOES NOT APPEAR ENOUGH! IT"S UNDERPOWERED! 2nd place cops WAY MORE SHIT than FIRST PLACE. 80% of the time NO BLUE SHELLS APPEAR, and EVERYONE IS FIGHTING OVER 2ND WHILE FIRST FLIES OFF INTO THE DISTANCE. ARE YOU EVEN PLAYING THE GAME.

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

If you think item management and strategy detracts from the game rather than adds to it, then you're just plain dumb with a small poo brain.

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Offline DAaaMan64

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2008, 09:54:51 AM »
In the original there was only one cluster of boxes per lap, and only occasionally a few extras were strewn elsewhere in strategic spots, AND they only worked once. It would be so hardcore if they brought that back. Also, what if you could stop the item spinning like a slot machine is supposed to work?

Give whoever this is a prize.  It required much more tactical thinking to use items when you only got one shot per lap.  The series used to be a fun twist on a racing game.  Now the twist has become the game.

In the games defense, the laps aren't anywhere near as short. But you know you still get a hell of a lot more items.
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Offline NinGurl69 *huggles

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2008, 10:15:54 AM »
MK is less borked than Brawl.  onrine or offrine.

MK wins.
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Offline Bill Aurion

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2008, 10:55:49 AM »
Me Deg Bill and Mario have had some prtty intense Mario Kart DS matches where 3 of us or so are holding a blue shell at once. It becomes ferociously tactical.

Heh, who was the unlucky sucker without one?

Haha, it's too bad you can't see what items people are holding in the Wii version...It'd make the races more interesting...

The DS races we'd have would involve a bunch of hilarious braking and reversing in hopes someone would fire their blue shell too early and either hit someone else or get caught up in the blast themselves... :tpg:
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Offline KDR_11k

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #20 on: May 27, 2008, 01:21:01 PM »
The blue shell is fucken awesome. If it's ruining your race then you're not as far ahead as you should be.

If you're so far ahead that nothing can stop you anyway why bother playing anymore? It's just a time trial then.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAUHAUHWAUHA

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

The Blue Shell DOES NOT APPEAR ENOUGH! IT"S UNDERPOWERED! 2nd place cops WAY MORE SHIT than FIRST PLACE. 80% of the time NO BLUE SHELLS APPEAR, and EVERYONE IS FIGHTING OVER 2ND WHILE FIRST FLIES OFF INTO THE DISTANCE. ARE YOU EVEN PLAYING THE GAME.

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

NON-GAMER

If you think item management and strategy detracts from the game rather than adds to it, then you're just plain dumb with a small poo brain.

Doesn't that still mean the item distribution is flawed, just that it hurts the second place more than the first?

Offline Halbred

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #21 on: May 27, 2008, 04:10:06 PM »
The Blue Shell is annoying, yes, but the other "f*ck you" items in the game are just as bad, if not worse:

1) Lightning Bolt
The computer always seems to know exactly where you are. Are you jumping over lava? Are you carrying a lot of momentum going around a corner? Are you on Rainbow Road? Expect a Lightning Bolt to screw you over, not only halting your momentum, but also throwing away your item(s) and making you fall into the lava and/or void of space!

2) POW Block
Here's the inside scoop: If you activate a trick on the very last pow-nd (HA!), you MIGHT avoid losing all your speed. But not always. And on the higher difficulties (150cc, Mirror), your opponents don't really seem affected by the POW Block.

3) Bullet Bill
Are you on a narrow stretch of road, or even a wide one? An opponent's Bullet Bill will always seem to smash into you, no matter where you are on the track. And if you're in, like, 12th place and manage to get a Bullet Bill, you'll leap ahead maybe FOUR PLACES. Like that'll do you any good.

4) Mega Mushroom
It's like a Super Star, but it sucks even more, because your opponent is huge and means to flatten you, thus causing you to spin out AND impeding your speed. W...T...F.

5) Blue Shell
Are you ahead of the pack on the final lap of a 150cc or Mirror course? You can be DAMN sure the Blue Shell will smash into you, followed, potentially, by a Red Shell, Lightning Bolt, Blooper, Bullet Bill, or any combination of the above! It's so agonizing it's almost funny!
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Offline NinGurl69 *huggles

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #22 on: May 27, 2008, 08:31:52 PM »
The items are fine.

The biggest obstacle is really learning the details of the stages/turns and executing your intentions (on the wheel, cuz it's awesome) properly.
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Offline Shift Key

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #23 on: May 28, 2008, 11:28:24 PM »
A message from Piechat

Quote
This is the point in the generation where Nintendo fans with influence try to demonstrate how cosmopolitan they are by saying how much Mario Kart Wii is inferior to Wipeout Pulse on PSP.  This demonstrates 2 things

1) Nintendo criticism
2) Exemplifying own hardcoreness by referencing a game nobody has on a platform nobody owns

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Re: Mario Kart Wii should take a page from Wipeout
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2008, 12:09:48 AM »
The items are fine.

The biggest obstacle is really learning the details of the stages/turns and executing your intentions (on the wheel, cuz it's awesome) properly.

This argument falls apart when you always get the cloud when you're light years behind.