So Mario Kart Wii came out the other day. Given that every Mario Kart ever has been at least a great game, we picked it up immediately.
I’ve only played it in versus mode, both competitively and cooperatively with my wife, in racing and both battle modes, and I can definitely say that this is the least pleased I’ve been with a Mario Kart title ever. I’ve actually thrown the Wiimote (luckily a mattress was in the way) :(
My major gripes? Well, let’s list:
- I’m actually not upset at the Wiimote-as-steering-wheel controls. They take getting used to and I don’t think they’re as precise as normal analog stick controls (I haven’t tried yet however) but as long as you recognize that about 350 degrees full left to full right is the complete range of motion you’ll adapt. Try to push more and you’ll simply confuse the game into steering the wrong way. This is something that could be improved by a stand or something that has a mechanical stop, at least you’d know when you hit the full range of motion. But again, you’ll at least get used to this.
- The first major concern for me (and this is huge) is that they seem to have drastically changed power sliding. In Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart Double Dash when you power slide you can kind of adjust the direction you slide. They seem to have significantly reduced this in Mario Kart Wii. This significantly ramps up the difficulty. Turn too early and you are pretty much guaranteed to go over an edge or run into the wall. Turn too late and you are pretty much guaranteed to go over an edge or run into a wall. Even if you don’t spill out you’re likely not going to be pointed in the right direction once the turn is done. Probably the safest bet is to never power slide (or leave it in Auto) but then you will slow down a lot through every turn.
- Oh, and when you do run into a wall (and it will be frequent), you are practically guaranteed to lose 2-3 places each time. This would have been OK as a difficulty-enhancer had they not combined it with the penalty on power sliding.
- One thing that I hoped they would fix at some point is the rubber-band logic that allows the CPU to basically completely annihilate you just for doing well in a race. Do too well and all of a sudden you will have disasters rained down upon you as if from on high (and then you will no longer be in the first half of the leaderboard). In previous Mario Karts it would go from happening randomly to conveniently happening on the second or third lap. Now it just seems to happen all the time instead.
- Also cool is when you get hit by an item, and then get hit by a passing kart, and then get hit by another item (or two, you’re already hosed at this point). This happens in every Mario Kart game. But I think I’m already up to about half the number of times that it happened to me in Mario Kart 64 and Double Dash combined.
It’s not all bad news. I watched my wife play one-player and even though she made a lot of mistakes playing through her first time, she rather easily took first in all 4 races she played. Apparently my strategy will have to be trying to stay in 12th the whole time and hoping for good items. In addition the stages are inspired, both for racing and battle modes. I’m going to stay away from online play because that merely leads to me getting my face stepped on by someone I can’t so much as throw my soda at, but it’s nice that it has the option.
I’m going to go try playing it one-player and seeing if I can at least get some entertainment out of it in solo mode. It’s not like I can return it and get my money back. :-/