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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Games: 24 36 Hours Into Mario Kart Wii

posted by on April 27 at 1:29 AM

It’s a sunny day, so my deeper impressions will have to wait (I’ll update this post with more later). In the meantime, for those of you Slog gamers wondering whether or not to buy the Mario Kart Wii game that hits stores tomorrow… well, I don’t have a resounding recommendation here. On the downside, the game comes off as a rush job—the art design is pitiful, the number of new tracks is sad, and any four-player play runs choppily enough to be a distraction. In the good news dept, though, there’s a new karts-versus-bikes element that is balanced and deep, and the online mode is quick—both in how little time it takes to start a game and how smoothly it plays. As of right now, the thumb teeters upward, if ever so slightly. More to come.


Update: Honestly, the above is about it. Mario Kart’s been the same combat-racing video game for years now, and the only real changes to this version are tweaks to make it more newbie-friendly—wider racetracks, easier boosts of speed, better chances of recovering if you get stuck in last-place. These are the things that have made Mario Kart Wii a total hit in hours-long four-player frenzies from the past few nights with my non-gamer posse, and that’s not to say the skill has been sucked out of this one. Better put, the game’s barrier to entry, which had risen in fanboy-payoff versions of the past few years, has come back down to earth, and unless you’re a sullen cretin who can’t stand a random loss, the game’s the better for it.

To be fair, when I first saw footage and reviews of this game, I’d resigned myself to hating it. MKW looks like the same old game Nintendo has shoveled up for years, and in many respects, it is. But even when Nintendo phones one in, they still pull off surprises, like MKW’s spread of oddball racetracks, refinement of the party-racing formula, and—I cannot stress this enough—replay value that comes from the first half-decent online mode in a Wii game. It’s not Xbox Live, and childproof “friend codes” make setting up friend-only matches a pain in the ass, but for a online racing game with no monthly fees, this one’s something else. MKW is probably priced $20 too high—this is a rushed version of Mario Kart’s Greatest Hits, after all—but compared to fanboy-crazy Super Smash Bros, you might actually convince buddies and significant others to play along. Since the rest of the Wii’s party-games catalog is a wasteland, you could do worse than this shameless-yet-refined retread.

Coming soon — Grand Theft Auto IV. My copy arrives Monday, and I look forward to rubbing my, er, nine-hour head start in your noses.

RSS icon Comments


So, basically, we're better off buying Iron Man for the Wii instead?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 26, 2008 2:50 PM

Lego Indiana Jones for me. But I love racing games. I used to get so into one we had for the computer that I'd totally mess up the steering wheel controller. My ex had to rig something so that it was strongly clamped down. Good thing I don't really drive that way...much.

Posted by PopTart | April 26, 2008 3:37 PM

The only Kart I'll be putting money into is my car's gas tank. Thanks anyway.

Posted by Vince | April 26, 2008 3:54 PM

Pretty much the only driving game I've liked has been S.T.U.N. Runner. But I doubt we'll ever see a Wii version. Mario Kart does nothing for me.

My recent Nintendo world has consisted of:
- more of Brawl, although I wish I had more actual online buddies.
- Williams Pinball Hall of Fame. No super duper graphics, but good physics. If you like pinball then it's a good buy ($30 game, I found it for $20 used at gamestop, woo.)
- Professor Layton for the DS. Anyone who loves solving puzzles must get this. I was so addicted to it that I sadly blew through it in a week.

- two weeks until wii ware
- three weeks until wii fit.

Posted by stinkbug | April 26, 2008 11:39 PM

mario cart.

eahh ha ha ha ha

you fucking stupid gay nerd.

you suck.

Posted by normal | April 27, 2008 1:22 AM

The last independent clause should have went:

"I look forward to rubbing my, er, nine-hour head start* in your noses.

"*Applies only to those who did not pirate from Liberty Bay already."

Posted by Tom X. PDX | April 27, 2008 9:52 AM

One of the owners of the company I work for took my team out to lunch a couple of weeks ago and out of the blue he asked how excited we were about the 27th of April. We all kind of looked at each other, confused, and he seemed disappointed in us for not knowing it was the release date for Mario Kart Wii, the way churchgoers are disappointed in me when I don't realize that it's Easter.

Posted by Peter F | April 27, 2008 10:26 AM

Oh, and speaking of Iron Man, I was just reading someplace that Paramount is worried that GTA4's release will cut into ticket sales next weekend.

Posted by Peter F | April 27, 2008 10:27 AM

GTAIV is the only game that matters. 2 more days...

Posted by sleestak | April 27, 2008 11:35 AM

Wii Fit is going to do well.

That said I'm waiting for GTA: V aka GTA: Emerald City ... gotta jack that chopper off of Seattle Grace Hospital and leave those interns hanging!

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 27, 2008 1:19 PM

@7 - I thought it was Passover ... isn't Easter just Saturnalia dressed up?

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 27, 2008 1:21 PM

My girlfriend hates most video games but she loooooooooves Smash Bros Brawl.

Posted by lol | April 27, 2008 2:36 PM

I'm surprised you didn't mention anything about the wheel controller. I thought it was just going to be a gimmicky piece of plastic I'd just try a couple races with, but I think it defines the experience. It took a few grand prix's to get the idea down and I'm still pretty rusty with it, but I find the wheel (well, actually the wheel-style control scheme) to be what allures me to the game.

Posted by harold | April 28, 2008 8:41 AM

Drop the "neener-neener" attitude, it doesn't piss anybody off and it seems to play a significant (?) role in your video game posts.

In related news, I, and another slogger, have already tested GTA IV: twice. It's pretty bland. Like Mario Kart, it's been (since GTA 3) the same game for years now.

Posted by Mr. Poe | April 28, 2008 9:00 AM

Instead of Paramount being worried about GTAIV, shouldn't they worry about their movie being a pile of shit?

Posted by Wurm | April 28, 2008 10:24 AM

@13: I don't think the wheel was a big addition, because Excite Truck already did the same thing on Wii--and did it pretty well, as it's a racer where sloppy steering fits into its "holy crap I'm flying all over the place" sensation. Here, though, my friends and I all stopped using motion control after a few tries. Far too loose and unresponsive for an "action racing" game like this--I die enough as it is with standard control. But it's nice that it's an option, and it doesn't seem worth bashing MKW over, so I didn't mull over it.

Posted by Sam M. | April 28, 2008 10:27 AM

Ah I forgot about Excite-truck. I can see MKW not being as exciting playing with the stick controls if you don't need to do the "powerslide waggle" any more. (You don't do the waggle anymore I gather)

I've put about 10 hours into the wheel style and I still end up starting a drift the wrong direction some times. I find the challenge of the control to be what makes this version of Kart more amusing. I can't just aim my kart in a direction and relax the joystick any more. The weapons with the digital pad are a pain though.

Posted by harold | April 28, 2008 10:46 AM

Question: Does Wii having any other good shooting games? The one that comes with the console is fun as shit, but all the others seem clunky (Cabelas, that Zelda-themed one, some Duck Hunt spin off where you spend 3 hours training you dog to fetch, etc.) and too involved.

Anything similar to old fashioned Duck Hunt or the hunting games you'd find in arcades?

Posted by Dougsf | April 28, 2008 2:36 PM

@18: Not sure what shooting game came with your Wii, unless Wii Sports has a hidden "OVER THE LINE!!" mode in the bowling game. Anyway. The Wii's arcade shooter selection is kinda weak--the best of its games are usually super-short, so you may be better off renting than buying. That said, Sega's got a few of their arcade shooters out--Ghost Squad and House of the Dead 2&3 are fun, but damned short. Then there's Target Terror, which is a shameless rip-off of the old Area 51 gun game... it's pretty dumb, but hey, so was Area 51, and I blew all kinds of quarters on that one back in the day. Strangely, there are no other hunting games on the Wii, and I have no clue why Sega hasn't ported its "extreme" hunting game from the arcades. (Go to Gameworks and you'll see what I mean. YOU SHOOT AT BEARS.)

Metroid Prime 3 and Medal of Honor Heroes 2 for Wii are good first-person shooters as well--aim at the screen whilst adventuring. Certainly not in line with that hunting jones of yours, but you may be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by Sam M. | April 28, 2008 3:19 PM

#19 - Thanks for the tips. Wasn't looking for and FPS - it's the inlaw's machine so i'm not certain, but I was referring to the shooting gallery on the Wii sports disc. Looking for something similar to that, or like the Big Game Hunter arcade game, but I think you're right, there's nothing out like that now.

Posted by Dougsf | April 28, 2008 4:40 PM

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