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Wii

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Mario Kart Wii

by Greg Leahy - April 21, 2008, 2:00 pm PDT
Total comments: 65

8.5

It's you vs. the world (and the blue shell), and this time it works.

With five previous instalments spread over as many platforms, Mario Kart's arrival on Wii was only ever a matter of time. However, given Wii’s revolutionary features and runaway success, what form Mario Kart would assume this time was somewhat less assured. The introduction of motion controls and a packed-in peripheral may broaden its appeal still further, but – for better or worse - Nintendo has decided to remain largely faithful to the Mario Kart formula it has spent sixteen years tweaking and tuning. Despite some significant detractions, the ability to stage twelve-person online races coupled with Nintendo's most functional online structure yet make Mario Kart Wii very effective in extracting multiplayer thrills from its chaotic racing template. However, it also leaves the impression that more considered, comprehensive modifications to the series (if not outright reinvention) are now overdue.

Excluding its lifeless title screen, Mario Kart Wii presents itself as cheerfully as fans have come to expect over the years. While not especially impressive or distinct from GameCube's Double Dash!!, its graphics engine handles the (still unsatisfactorily) gentle pace of the frequently anarchic proceedings very smoothly. Trackside environments appear a little rough, with some blocky landscapes covered by indistinct textures, but the use of lighting effects creates a unique ambiance in some cases. The character models seem a tad crude when compared with many of Mario's other recent appearances, which doesn’t really matter during a race but is still noticeable. Appropriately enough, considering the characters are little more than avatars (vehicle performance is what matters), you can now race as your Mii. Though for such a casual-appeasing option, it’s a curiously tricky feature to unlock.

On the audio side, Mario Kart Wii's soundtrack maintains the game's cheerful mood with mostly forgettable music, which could benefit from more extensively tapping into Mario's rich musical heritage. When using a good surround setup, the effect of the many drivers' exclamations as they jostle for position can be quite immersive (albeit sometimes annoying), while the Wii Remote speaker provides some low-fi immersion with audio cues for approaching items.

Given the inclusion of the Wii Wheel with every copy of the game, it's natural to wonder just how integral this latest piece of white paraphernalia is to Mario Kart Wii. The short answer is "not very". Firstly, the controls have been configured so as to be compatible with the full range of potential Wii controller setups, and so those who would like to continue to steer using an analog stick can do so using the GameCube or Classic controllers in addition to the Wii Remote-Nunchuck combo. Secondly, the Wheel itself is only a shell, and therefore does not add functionality but rather eases the use of the Remote by providing a more comfortable grip and easier access to the B trigger (used for hopping to drift). In all fairness, the construction of the Wheel provides a nice feel and a sense of novelty, but there's no denying that it is truly a peripheral item in every sense.

The motion controls are somewhat constrained by the desire to maintain compatibility with the traditional Mario Kart control scheme, but they function fairly well as an interpretation of that scheme. The tendency to oversteer is commonplace initially but, given time to acclimate, you can get a feel for what kind of movements are appropriate and when it is necessary to execute a drift to take a corner at speed. However, drifting presents the biggest challenge to the motion controls, as the absence of the neutral position found on an analog stick means that a sudden change of direction cannot be executed as unerringly as with traditional controls. This creates the potential for power-sliding in the opposite direction to what was intended, incurring predictably disastrous results.

Despite the inevitable frustration (and likely desire to immediately revert back to more familiar controls) that such mistakes will provoke, using the Wheel can be fun and re-introduces something of a learning curve for even the most seasoned of Mario Kart vets. While it uses the Wheel as a means to convey accessibility, Nintendo also seems to acknowledge the challenges that it presents at the top end of competition by indicating whether someone is using the Remote-only scheme during online play and on Time Trial leaderboards. Its use can be worn as a badge of honour.

Mario Kart Wii introduces another motion-controlled element with its new trick system. This is fairly uncomplicated, involving a quick upwards flick of the Remote when your racer launches off a ramp or hill on the track. Doing so initiates a minor bout of airborne gymnastics on the part of your character, activating a significant speed boost for your vehicle when it reaches the ground. Experimentation yields a surprising number of opportunities to exploit this new mechanic on some tracks, and it makes the player more of an active participant in each race. Yet it remains a double-edged sword, as it’s indicative of the continued de-emphasising of racing fundamentals that used to be more critical to achieving Mario Kart success.

When using traditional controllers, the tricks are initiated by the use of the D-pad, which proves to be a little unwieldy when compared with the intuitive, highly accessible gesture method. This is where the merit of the Wii Remote-Nunchuk configuration is revealed, as it pairs the familiar precision of analog steering with the immediacy of motioning the Remote for a setup that's tough to beat for all-round functionality.

The series' familiar gameplay – accessible, gently paced racing amidst fantastic hazards and chaotic item duelling – has transitioned to Wii mostly unchanged, with twelve competitors only embellishing the frenzy that is Mario Kart. However, drifting (or power-sliding) has been modified, with speed boosts no longer accumulated by rocking the steering back and forth during a drift. Instead, the boost builds automatically, first to the blue sparks level for a standard mini-boost, then eventually to a higher level boost when the sparks turn orange. This progression occurs more rapidly the more you steer into the direction of the drift, so attempting to straighten out your course during a drift by steering against it will incur a longer delay before being able to use the mini-boost.

In this way, the controversial "snaking" technique - continuously power-sliding around the track - has been effectively eliminated. Drivers are now rewarded with quick boosts for cornering sharply rather than for the ability to rapidly wiggle the control stick/d-pad in perpetuity. Though some may bemoan the loss of that more skill-dependent element of Mario Kart, there is a considered design to the new system that goes beyond mere simplification for new and casual players.

In terms of features and content, Mario Kart Wii is clearly based on its immediate portable predecessor, with thirty-two tracks (half new, half retro) and the omission of Double Dash!!’s character-specific items and tag-team drivers. Almost all of the items from Mario Kart DS return along with a few interesting additions, and the number of racers has increased to twelve; however, Mario Kart Wii’s most significant new feature is a new breed of vehicle: bikes.

Upon taking control of the two-wheeled debutants, Kart veterans will immediately notice the bikes' much sharper cornering and propensity to get bumped off-course. The different handling is disorienting at first, but with time and practice the merits of the bikes emerge. Slender profiles and superb manoeuvrability can prove invaluable for weaving in between traffic and the ever-numerous track obstacles, and their ability to corner sharply with finesse makes driving the time-honoured karts seem awkward by comparison.

Bike-specific capabilities mean that they are much more than just smaller, quicker versions of karts, injecting meaningful gameplay variety into the mix. Performing a wheelie (executed using the trick input) will grant your bike a speed boost when travelling at good speeds, with the trade-off being compromised steering and increased vulnerability to clashes with other vehicles or items.

Initially, the use of this technique may remain confined to obvious coasting opportunities while out in front, but in time it can be frequently used when coming out of drift boosts or plotting narrow courses through your rivals. Above any competitive advantage that may accrue from its use, this active risk-reward mechanic (building on the new trick boost system available to all vehicles) makes for an involving racing experience that proves to be simply more fun than sticking with the old karts.

One downside to the surprisingly entertaining and useful nature of the bikes is that they have not been truly balanced with their kart brethren. While they are more susceptible to physical attack than their four-wheeled counterparts, that weakness doesn’t apply in time trial mode, making them the de facto choice to get the best times (as proof, have a look at the online time trial rankings). However, even in the heat of a twelve-competitor race, the threat of being shunted or the lack of a larger drift boost ultimately offers scant counterbalance to the supreme dexterity afforded to skilled bikers.

As a racing game, the lasting appeal of any Mario Kart title remains a function of the quality of its track designs. The sixteen new tracks begin very gently, but quickly venture into more dynamic, hazardous territory on a grander scale than we're used to seeing in the series. Some of this real estate is to accommodate the expanded number of racers, making the tracks generously spacious when competing in time trials or with just a few friends (the AI opponents can be turned off in VS. play). Over time, the designs reveal how they have incorporated the trick boost system for alternative routes, while also amusing by way of the sheer amount of danger through which the raceways sometimes wind.

The retro selection features some undeniable classics as well as a few curious choices, but overall presents a nice variety as the flat, angular courses from the SNES and GBA editions complement the more open, undulating raceways from 64, Double Dash!!, and DS. Their reproductions on Wii are mostly faithful, but there are some extra ramps and jumps put in place, while the presence of bikes and the new trick system can significantly alter how best to approach tracks mastered long ago.

Though the course designs are interesting and enjoyable on the whole, there is a lack of thematic variety vis-à-vis previous tracks in the series (which are themselves quite well-represented in this game), and frequently feel far from embedded in the Mario franchise. Alongside the rather generic music and some of the confounding choices made in assembling the character roster (four baby versions of other characters!), this contributes to the impression of the game paying lip service to its source material rather than thoughtfully mining it for content that fans of the series would really appreciate.

Only half of the tracks are available to play initially, and so taking on the various Cup competitions is necessary to unlock the rest (along with more vehicles and characters) for each of the three speed classes. Playing through a Grand Prix in one-player is much the same proposition as ever; you'll quickly be proficient enough to get ahead without too much difficulty, but staying there proves to be a matter of being lucky enough to avoid the appearance of the dreaded leader-exploding blue shell. This is a tolerably infrequent occurrence on the lower classes, but prepare to become enraged on 150cc when a blue-hued calamity drops you so far back that a seemingly insurmountable lead is erased by your rival. The ability to retry a single race (even once) in order to correct a particularly egregious screwing-over would be most welcome, but is once again absent.

While not quite as seemingly inexorable as in previous Mario Kart games, the blue shell's presence remains an extremely cheap and irritating way of impeding your path to victory. Its function is understandable (though not necessarily desirable) in the context of maintaining competitiveness amongst friends, but its position in one-player is simply untenable. Given that Nintendo continues to make unlocking much of the games' content contingent on playing through the GPs, it is long past time for a more thoughtfully crafted one-player Mario Kart experience, with unique item balancing and smarter AI opponents, that would feel like much less of a chore than it does here. The Mission mode of the DS version is also an unfortunate exclusion, though online "Competitions" should begin to fill this gap somewhat once the game launches worldwide.

Nintendo has most assuredly upped its online game for Mario Kart Wii. Races or battles against up to eleven opponents are nearly flawless, with no appreciable lag problems or framerate drops. The interface is also excellent. Using the Mario Kart Channel, you can view time trial leaderboards, invite people from your Wii address book to add your friend code without inputting a single digit, and check the status of your registered friends – all without having to put the game disc in the console.

With up to two players on the same console, you can challenge random opponents from around the world very quickly and easily. As the matchmaking takes place, you can see the Miis and location of your competitors, and then view their currently ongoing race before joining the next contest. The game still performs effectively online when running in splitscreen, and thus provides a welcome combination of the joys of playing with a friend in the same room while also seamlessly competing with a large field of human opponents from all regions of the globe. Races between registered friends offer more customisation, but the inability to communicate in-game beyond simplistic pre-race messaging remains a disappointment.

This effective online functionality is key due to the limitations of local multiplayer. The dual-driver system of Double Dash!! is gone, along with its uniquely entertaining co-op play. There are also sweeping changes made to Battle mode, the entire design of which has apparently been modified to mesh with the twelve-player standard for online play. Battles now consist of score-based contests in enormous arenas between two teams of six (with AI making up the numbers offline), with no alternative to play in a traditional four-player elimination bout. Such an option would likely have necessitated the design of more appropriately confined arenas, but the choice to play a twelve player free-for-all should have been included at the very least. As even online battles prove to be less than riotous fun, the trade-off chosen by Nintendo in this case is disappointing.

Mario Kart Wii is ultimately much the same game as Mario Kart DS, but this is forgivable due to its drastically improved online functionality along with some welcome gameplay additions and tweaks. Indeed, the capacity for enduring entertainment from racing online, challenging time trial records, and entering worldwide competitions looks to be immense. However, Nintendo's nonchalant, one-size-fits-all approach to the game's design holds it back from attaining loftier status. The speed classes remain inadequately differentiated from one another (the main difference residing in the cheap aggressiveness of the AI), while the option to eliminate the most powerful items in VS. play is welcome but falls short of the much-needed item overhaul.

By paying specific attention to crafting and balancing the one-player and local multiplayer modes as separate experiences, the series could have moved closer to becoming a truly great game for everyone. Instead, we simply have a very effective new way to plunder the age-old joys (and frustrations) of Mario Kart, so long-time fans of the series will have a blast if they are setup for online play. Newcomers are likely to love discovering its craziness for the first time.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7.5 6.5 9.5 8.5 8.5 8.5
Graphics
7.5

Though the visuals will not particularly impress or sharply distinguish themselves from those in Double Dash!!, they get the job done. The scale of the environments and hazards displayed in some of the new tracks brings a new sense of spectacle to the proceedings.

Sound
6.5

Original compositions have been used as opposed to employing familiar franchise melodies outside of item jingles, a questionable decision given the largely uninteresting nature of the new songs. The sound effects are as authentically Mario as ever, while the character vocalisations may charm in some cases but irritate in others.

Control
9.5

With the full set of control options available, there's very little to complain about in this area. The motion controls are fairly well-executed and are sure to appeal to newcomers, while traditionalists can happily clutch their GameCube controllers. The Wii Remote-Nunchuk setup combines the best aspects of the two for the most effective setup overall.

Gameplay
8.5

The mix of racing and duelling with Mario and friends remains fundamentally entertaining. New items, vehicles, and techniques make for a more involved experience than before, though power-sliding has been somewhat simplified. Item balancing issues are still irksome in one-player competitions, and the alterations to Battle mode are a step backwards.

Lastability
8.5

Provided you have access to online play, Mario Kart Wii can generate years of fun with the opportunity to take on your friends and the world all at once without being dominated by snakers. Conversely, the failures of Battle mode and the absence of Double Dash!! co-op play (in addition to a general lack of novelty) may sorely limit how long you’ll be engaged offline.

Final
8.5

Subtly refining the formula that worked so well on Nintendo DS, Mario Kart Wii expands its horizons by fully delivering on the promise of online play. While single-player and local multiplayer fall a little short, online competition (in addition to the fun new tracks and bikes) is compelling enough reason for another go around the track for series vets, while motion control and ever-charitable gameplay make it a great starting point for new players. However, with many of the franchise’s biggest frustrations left intact, those indifferent to the series may want to steer clear.

Summary

Pros
  • Bikes and tricks are fun additions
  • Full range of control setups
  • Smooth, well-implemented online play
Cons
  • Battle mode has been drastically altered to its detriment
  • Item balancing has gone largely uncorrected
  • No Double Dash!!-style co-op play
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

BeautifulShyApril 21, 2008

When this game comes out in America I want to play you. I will send a wiimail. As for the review I find it interesting that the wiimote&nunchuk setup is the best. I will have to try all of them. I am leaning to the wii wheel. Very good review.

MorariApril 21, 2008

THIS POST HAS BEEN CENSORED FOR YOUR PROTECTION

--Bureau of Internet Morality

D_AverageApril 21, 2008

Nice review Greg, the score makes sense!

Its just too bad Mario Kart had to be the sacrificial "bridge" game this year, it could have been so much better! 

UltimatePartyBearApril 21, 2008

Quote from: Morari

There are no character specific items now? That strikes me as super friggin' stupid.

The character-specific items were "super friggin' stupid."  They were horrendously unbalanced.

Quote:

Why even have different characters if they don't matter? Varying weight classes don't really distinguish one character from another--style does.

True.  In the first few games, each character handled differently.  When they added selectable karts, they moved all the handling characteristics to the karts instead, making the different characters nothing but eye candy.

Personally, I'm glad to see everything Double Dash added taken away.  I just wish Nintendo hadn't decided to take away even more than that.  R.I.P. Battle Mode.  You had a good run, even if you were cut down in your youth and left on life support for two sequels.

I'll buy it. I'll buy it the day it comes out. But I do so cautiously. As Lindemann and I have discussed, Mario Kart seems to be a "checklist" title that Nintendo feels the need to spit out for every console and handheld. The quality of this game (compared to the others) seems questionable according to Greg's excellent review. I look forward to the online play, but the omnipresent Blue Shell disasters and retro tracks make me cringe. I already played a bunch of retro tracks in Super Circuit and Kart DS. Just give me more NEW ones!

DasmosApril 21, 2008

Quote:

However, given Wii’s revolutionary features and runaway success, what form Mario Kart would assume this time was somewhat less assured.

I knew it was going to be a horrible, inflated, boring review after I read this statement. I wasn't wrong.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterApril 21, 2008

Hmmm...While MK Wii is getting MUCH better reviews than Double Dash!! did back when it was released, its still not getting as much praise as MK DS. Its almost as if the series has better fortune on handheld than it does on consoles.

Back when Super Circuit was released reviewers went crazy for it, but Double Dash!! was even deemed as the worst game in the series.

And now history seems to be repeating itself with MK Wii.

E3 Hype Train EngineerApril 21, 2008

"lifeless title screen"

"mostly forgettable music"

"The ability to retry a single race ...is once again absent."

"de-emphasising of racing fundamentals"


It's like the total opposite of the original mario kart, except for the aggressive 150cc AI  ;D

GoldenPhoenixApril 21, 2008

While I have little doubt I'll enjoy the game, they made some odd choices. The team only battle mode is so ridiculous, why not give people a choice? Heck since Battle Mode is my favorite part of ANY MK game, I would be perfectly satisfied if it had such a small thing added!

MarioApril 21, 2008

Quote from: Dasmos

Quote:

However, given Wii’s revolutionary features and runaway success, what form Mario Kart would assume this time was somewhat less assured.

I knew it was going to be a horrible, inflated, boring review after I read this statement. I wasn't wrong.

LOL agreed. Also I love how everyone talks about the Blue Shell with anger as if they are the best racer ever and always in first. I'M SO BLOODY AWESOME I SHOULD WIN EVERY RACE!

Making Battle mode always teams doesn't bother me that much, I always play it that way in MKDS anyway. What I am concerned about is making it score-based instead of elimination-based. There's no way I won't be getting the game, so I'll just have to try it and see.

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusApril 21, 2008

Quote from: Mario

LOL agreed. Also I love how everyone talks about the Blue Shell with anger as if they are the best racer ever and always in first. I'M SO BLOODY AWESOME I SHOULD WIN EVERY RACE!

My dislike of the blue shell is not because I wish to win every race uncontested, but because I want to actually compete with other racers to win, rather than against the arbitrary activation of an item divorced from gameplay performance.

I would like to thank plugabugz for helping me test the Wii message board friend invite feature, much appreciated.   

MarioApril 21, 2008

The item is part of the gameplay, they are not separate things.

I find it funny that the argument about blue shells is essentially the same argument as tourney***s and items in Smash Bros. except everybody is on the opposite side.

DAaaMan64April 21, 2008

Quote from: insanolord

I find it funny that the argument about blue shells is essentially the same argument as tourney***s and items in Smash Bros. except everybody is on the opposite side.

I'm not, you'll notice I take the same side.  It should be true that through several match's you can still prove you are the best, learning to race with the blue shell makes you better than someone who has not.  Therefore, producing the best players still requires the blue shell to be included.  So to prove you are the best, simply play more matches and you should prove you are ultimately the better player.

Remember, don't level the playing field just because everyone bows down to fairness these days, concentrate on making the best players there could possibly be.  That would be better.

This is a reusable philosophy for me and games.

LuigiHannApril 21, 2008

Quote from: insanolord

I find it funny that the argument about blue shells is essentially the same argument as tourney***s and items in Smash Bros. except everybody is on the opposite side.

Most people are in favor of Smash Bros's item switch, and I think most would be in favor of Mario Kart also having an item switch. Too-powerful items in Smash Bros, like the Hammer and the Home-run Bat, have been toned down in the newer games, but the Blue Shell seems to have gotten more unfair and more obnoxious.

DAaaMan64April 21, 2008

Quote from: LuigiHann

Quote from: insanolord

I find it funny that the argument about blue shells is essentially the same argument as tourney***s and items in Smash Bros. except everybody is on the opposite side.

Most people are in favor of Smash Bros's item switch, and I think most would be in favor of Mario Kart also having an item switch. Too-powerful items in Smash Bros, like the Hammer and the Home-run Bat, have been toned down in the newer games, but the Blue Shell seems to have gotten more unfair and more obnoxious.

I would never suggest to taking away options of course.

EnnerApril 22, 2008

I want the Purple Spiked shell back. That one could take out any other player on its way in its hunt for first. Bowl everyone over!

LuigiHannApril 22, 2008

Quote from: Enner

I want the Purple Spiked shell back. That one could take out any other player on its way in its hunt for first. Bowl everyone over!

I prefer that as well. It actually benefited the player who throws it in a meaningful way, and it was also likely to hit the players in second and third, so first place wouldn't be demolished quite so badly.

DasmosApril 22, 2008

Quote:

The ability to retry a single race (even once) in order to correct a particularly egregious screwing-over would be most welcome, but is once again absent. 

Completey missed this quote the first time I read it through. Are you joking? Are you taking the shit? Dear God.

KDR_11kApril 22, 2008

Perhaps losing a singleplayer race to a blue shell and being forced to start the whole cup over is a bit frustrating and thus worth docking points over?

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 22, 2008

Here is my take on the Blue Shell. The blue shell only starts to cause problems in the last leg of the last lap in a race. People typically only complain about the blue shell when they get hit right before the finish line. It is annoying to have to redo whole circuits because of it and it never ceases to frustrate me when it happens. If there wasn't rubberband AI it wouldn't really matter at all, but being that there is, a blue shell is pretty much instant loss if it hits you near the end of the race.

I think the solution to the whole Blue Shell debate is not as simple as take it or leave it. The blue shell is a vital part of races; if it was to be removed, I can almost guarantee races would not feel the same. Leaving it the way it is clearly isn't working either though, so why not make a compromise?

Lets say that Nintendo transparently changed the randomization of items so that when any racer crosses a certain point on the track in the last lap, blue shells can no longer come up in an item block for anyone. Now this wouldn't stop people who have been hoarding one, which I think is alright because they would have turned down other items in order to do so; it would also make it so that the probability of getting nailed by last place at the finish line was extremely low.

Not sure if everyone agrees with this, but it seems to satisfy both camps IMO.

PaleMike Gamin, Contributing EditorApril 22, 2008

Quote from: insanolord

I find it funny that the argument about blue shells is essentially the same argument as tourney***s and items in Smash Bros. except everybody is on the opposite side.

I think it's funny that people seem to think "If it's part of the game it should be in there" is a good argument.  Why on EARTH is it not alright to have a personal per item opinion about a game?  Do you honestly think that one person saying "ALL ITEMS IN SMASH BROS SHOULD BE SHUT OFF" is the same as another person saying "The blue shell in Mario Kart hinders the experience and should be taken out."

Come on.  I know silly rules make life easier to live, but everything isn't black and white.

MarioApril 22, 2008

Opinions can't be debated, but the reasons behind them can be. Also the whole POINT of the blue shell is to hit people at the last part of the race! :)

Quote from: KDR_11k

Perhaps losing a singleplayer race to a blue shell and being forced to start the whole cup over is a bit frustrating and thus worth docking points over?

A "whole cup" is like 15 minutes. And that's basically the entire single player game. Compare it to unlocking things in Brawl.

I can't wait til the game is out and we're just playing it instead of talking about this crap.

Quote from: Pale

Quote from: insanolord

I find it funny that the argument about blue shells is essentially the same argument as tourney***s and items in Smash Bros. except everybody is on the opposite side.

I think it's funny that people seem to think "If it's part of the game it should be in there" is a good argument.  Why on EARTH is it not alright to have a personal per item opinion about a game?  Do you honestly think that one person saying "ALL ITEMS IN SMASH BROS SHOULD BE SHUT OFF" is the same as another person saying "The blue shell in Mario Kart hinders the experience and should be taken out."

Come on.  I know silly rules make life easier to live, but everything isn't black and white.

I wasn't judging the arguments, I was just making an observation.

The arguments aren't the same because of what they argue, they're the same because of the reasoning behind the argument. Both the people who want the blue shells gone and the people who hate items in Smash Bros. want those things because the those things introduce random elements into the game that de-emphasize skill as a part of playing the game and can result in people winning because of luck as  opposed to because they played the game the best. The people arguing against them argue that the randomness is part of the fun and is the way the game was intended to be played. I myself would be one of the people that argue for items in Smash Bros. and against blue shells in Mario Kart, I just think it's funny that the two games get people to come to the exact opposite opinions on this issue.

KDR_11kApril 22, 2008

Quote from: Mario

Opinions can't be debated, but the reasons behind them can be. Also the whole POINT of the blue shell is to hit people at the last part of the race! :)

Quote from: KDR_11k

Perhaps losing a singleplayer race to a blue shell and being forced to start the whole cup over is a bit frustrating and thus worth docking points over?

A "whole cup" is like 15 minutes. And that's basically the entire single player game. Compare it to unlocking things in Brawl.

I can't wait til the game is out and we're just playing it instead of talking about this crap.

Wasting 15 minutes through sheer bad luck is frustrating no matter what. Would you want any other game to have a random chance to declare "Game Over" when you finish a level?

MarioApril 22, 2008

It's not sheer luck. You're in first, you know someone could get a blue shell.

D_AverageApril 22, 2008

Quote from: Mr.

Here is my take on the Blue Shell. The blue shell only starts to cause problems in the last leg of the last lap in a race. People typically only complain about the blue shell when they get hit right before the finish line. It is annoying to have to redo whole circuits because of it and it never ceases to frustrate me when it happens. If there wasn't rubberband AI it wouldn't really matter at all, but being that there is, a blue shell is pretty much instant loss if it hits you near the end of the race.

I think the solution to the whole Blue Shell debate is not as simple as take it or leave it. The blue shell is a vital part of races; if it was to be removed, I can almost guarantee races would not feel the same. Leaving it the way it is clearly isn't working either though, so why not make a compromise?

Lets say that Nintendo transparently changed the randomization of items so that when any racer crosses a certain point on the track in the last lap, blue shells can no longer come up in an item block for anyone. Now this wouldn't stop people who have been hoarding one, which I think is alright because they would have turned down other items in order to do so; it would also make it so that the probability of getting nailed by last place at the finish line was extremely low.

Not sure if everyone agrees with this, but it seems to satisfy both camps IMO.

Not only would this idea improve the game, but it would make the last lap more exciting when you enter "The Blue Shell Free Zone".  Too bad it doesn't exist, pity.

LuigiHannApril 22, 2008

Quote from: insanolord

I myself would be one of the people that argue for items in Smash Bros. and against blue shells in Mario Kart, I just think it's funny that the two games get people to come to the exact opposite opinions on this issue.

Again, I think it's more that most people agree that items in Smash Bros do require skill to use, as do most of the items in Mario Kart. But if the Blue Shell were in Smash Bros, it'd essentially be a one-hit-kill item that requires no aiming, timing, or proximity to use, and that can't be countered, blocked, or dodged, I think most people would hate it.

Oh, and I do agree that your observation is valid and fairly amusing, but I do feel the need to analyze the differences between the situations.

PlugabugzApril 22, 2008

The blue shell should automatically go for the persons in front (but in ascending order!), but if you're first it should go for second place only.

For instance, if i'm 8th and get a blue shell it should hit 7th then 6th then 5th and so on. The chaos will completely rewrite the race.

I don't hate the blue shell as much when I'm in 1st place and get hit with it, but rather when I'm in last place and it comes out of my item box, because then it does me no good.  It will let the 2nd or 3rd place guy move up to 1st, but it won't help the 12th place guy move up at all.  If the blue shell was given to racers higher up in the rank, it would actually have some competitive value, and it wouldn't be much more annoying than red shells.  I do think there should be a way to dodge the blue shell, just as there should be some defensive measure against all the items in the game (other than activating a star at the last second).

KDR_11kApril 22, 2008

Quote from: Mario

It's not sheer luck. You're in first, you know someone could get a blue shell.

In other words you propose remaining second?

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 22, 2008

Steal 1st after 1st place is hit by a blue shell.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterApril 22, 2008

So this is how all MK related thread will be like? Destroyed by constant whining, bitching and debating about the blue shell?

I know it sucks, but must we dive into the blue shell discussion every time Mario Kart is brought up? Its an important item, yes, but lately it seems that the hot topic isn't whether the game runs smooth online or not, or even the character roster or gimped battle mode.

LuigiHannApril 22, 2008

Quote from: pap64

So this is how all MK related thread will be like? Destroyed by constant whining, bitching and debating about the blue shell?

I know it sucks, but must we dive into the blue shell discussion every time Mario Kart is brought up? Its an important item, yes, but lately it seems that the hot topic isn't whether the game runs smooth online or not, or even the character roster or gimped battle mode.

Those things might ruin this game, but the blue shell ruined the whole series :p

Actually, I think it's more a case where there's nothing better to complain about. The game is, as far as I can tell, fine.

With foobared Battle Mode, looks like I have a good reason to keep MK64 on my Wii.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 22, 2008

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v180/TheUncleBob/0422081245.jpg

Blocked at the register, so don't bother trying.

GoldenPhoenixApril 22, 2008

Allow blue shell to be turned off. Everyone is happy and Nintendo doesn't have to do much work. We all win.

Bill AurionApril 22, 2008

With the ability to turn all items off, it IS surprising there isn't an item switch akin to Smash Brothers'...It would have been great to have races of ONLY green shells, bananas, or even BLUE SHELLS! =D

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 22, 2008

Quote from: Bill

It would have been great to have races of ONLY BLUE SHELLS! =D

Hell yeah.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 22, 2008

Oh, I forgot to mention, in case anyone cares - Mario Kart Wii comes in a real, plastic case - not a crappy paper sleeve. :)

Yay!

Shift KeyApril 23, 2008

Quote from: pap64

So this is how all MK related thread will be like? Destroyed by constant whining, bitching and debating about the blue shell?

I can't speak for everyone here, but I'll be online swearing at those opportunistic blue shells.

D_AverageApril 23, 2008

Just played a round of MK 64, 150cc Star Cup and was reminded why I liked this iteration so much.  After finishing first overall, and remaining in first the majority of the races, I was not hit w/ a single blue shell. 

DasmosApril 23, 2008

I think we need a word-filter on the words blue shell. Maybe something like GAME BREAKER or BROKEN GAME MECHANIC.

MarioApril 23, 2008

It should be changed to "bad graphics".

PlugabugzApril 24, 2008

I reckon it should be changed to "baby daisy".

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 24, 2008

Quote from: UncleBob

Oh, I forgot to mention, in case anyone cares - Mario Kart Wii comes in a real, plastic case - not a crappy paper sleeve. :)

Yay!

GOOD. I was going to be seriously bent if it didn't.

MarioApril 24, 2008

I can absolutely confirm the blue shell thing as complete hogwash. It's WAY better to be out in front than the midfield in this game, where you can get hit with A MILLION THINGS! Blue shells don't even appear every race, and when they do it's nothing! Because everyone else is being pelted by 2x more items!

EnnerApril 25, 2008

Quote from: Mario

I can absolutely confirm the blue shell thing as complete hogwash. It's WAY better to be out in front than the midfield in this game, where you can get hit with A MILLION THINGS! Blue shells don't even appear every race, and when they do it's nothing! Because everyone else is being pelted by 2x more items!

That's complete madness!
Also, judging from the GameTrailers video review, the Blue Shell's splash is as big as ever XD

NinGurl69 *hugglesApril 25, 2008

Good.

GoldenPhoenixApril 27, 2008

I put in an hour or so on MK Wii and Greg makes many good points. For one it appears no thought went into the GP mode when it comes to making it a different experience than against human opponents. Right off the bat I was getting pelted with shells and got hit multiple times with the blue shell. With that said the game is GREAT you all need to get it, so far the track designs are quite good and online is STUNNING and silky smooth.

What has impressed me most, is surprisingly, the visuals which are silky smooth and are quite impressive at times (though your kart model looks horrid).

D_AverageApril 27, 2008

There's certainely a load of things wrong with this game, but at the end of the day, its kind of like the last season of Seinfeld.  Not as good as in once was, but still great nonetheless.

NWR_pap64Pedro Hernandez, Contributing WriterApril 27, 2008

Oh baby its so, so wrong! But feels so RIGHT!

That sums MK Wii right there... ;)

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusApril 27, 2008

All I have to say is that the online is kick ass. Generally speaking though, my first blush impression is that MK DS is better, we'll see as I get more time in with the game though.

MarioApril 27, 2008

Quote from: D_Average

There's certainely a load of things wrong with this game, but at the end of the day, its kind of like the last season of Seinfeld.  Not as good as in once was, but still great nonetheless.

Except this is by far the best Mario Kart game yet

IceColdApril 27, 2008

I loved Double Dash and was kind of apathetic towards MKDS - will I like this?

MarioApril 28, 2008

Only one way to find out

DAaaMan64April 28, 2008

ya Mario is pretty much right, it's kind of a mix of DS and DD.

TJ SpykeFebruary 18, 2009

Normally I wouldn't bump a topic this old. I just got the game today, and am really enjoying it. Looks nice, like the expanded field. I don't like playing with the Wii Wheel though. The Wheel feels nice, but it doesn't control right. I had problems drifting and sometimes turning (I would turn left when I wanted to turn right or vice versa). I think I will try using the GameCube controller and see if that is better.

It's definately better, TJ. However, once you get used to the Wii Wheel, it's actually pretty fun. The key is to make larger-than-you-think-necessary motions left and right to avoid turning the opposite direction.

Playing online with the Wheel increases your gamerscore quicker, too.

However, to really dominate the upper tiers of the single-player mode, you'll need the 'Cube controller to survive.

NinGurl69 *hugglesFebruary 18, 2009

It is tricky at first.  The two key influences are  1) Gotta be "perfectly" level to drive straight, anything not level is a turn (kinda weird when there's no resistance, so it's up you to develop a home/anchor position for reference)  and 2) To pull off those hard lefts/rights that you use a lot for power sliding, you have to turn the wheel more than 90 degrees, requiring some awesome funky technique.

It's real fun, and the Wheel becomes an object to direct your anger/energy at, screwing with your driving for lulz.

Once the wheel is understood, there's no need for analog sticks for any performance reasons.

Mop it upFebruary 18, 2009

I wanted to like the Wii Wheel but unfortunately I cannot stand the button layout of the thing. I still use it every now and then, but I have to use Automatic drift or else things go awry, and fast. I never use tricks or wheelies either. I have to use the GameCube controller to play my best... and that's a comparative term of course, it doesn't mean I'm any good at the game. :(

PeachylalaFebruary 19, 2009

To each his or her own, I guess. I still managed to get all gold in all classes sans the Mirror Cup (which I recently unlocked) with just the Wii Wheel alone. It takes practice to master, but when you do, it's smexy. =P

Question: Do the VR points really stand for something other then showing you have played WiFi often?

No. The fake gamerscore is just to measure how well you stack up against the competition.

Mop it upFebruary 19, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

I do think there should be a way to dodge the blue shell

You've probably found out about this by now, but just in case you (or anyone) doesn't know: You can dodge the blue shell if you use a mushroom right before it explodes. You can also dodge it if you make it into a cannon before it hits, but that's pretty circumstantial.

VR doesn't mean anything in the sense of unlockables or awards. It can, however, be an indication of the type of player you're about to face. If you see somebody with 9,999 VR, they are likely using Funky Kong + Lame Runner and are going to somehow achieve a huge lead and be nigh unstoppable. If you see somebody with less than 2,000 VR, they're likely just going to mess around, possibly camp on an item box and target first place. Hackers also sometimes give themselves low VR just for the lawls of it. If you see anyone with more than 9,999 VR, they're a hacker.

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Wii

Game Profile

Mario Kart Wii Box Art

Genre Racing
Developer Nintendo
Players1 - 4
Online1 - 12

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Kart Wii
Release Apr 27, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Mario Kart Wii
Release Apr 10, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Mario Kart Wii
Release Apr 11, 2008
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+
aus: Mario Kart Wii
Release Apr 24, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingGeneral

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