Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mario Kart Wii - FINALLY!

After reading all sorts of previews, reviews and other general hype about this game I could not wait to get it in my hands. Not only was I looking forward to playing the game - but I was also GREATLY looking forward to silencing all the other opinions. I wanted to debunk all the crap. But before I get there, let me tell you my history with the game and why I was so excited to get it.

As many people know the game has a long history. It began in the early 90's with Super Mario Kart on the SNES. This game was fine, and certainly holds plenty of merit, but my true love affair with the series came with Mario Kart 64 for the N64. My roommate, Ron and I would play this (and GoldenEye) nonstop in our college dorm room. We even learned that if you pick a "heavy" player and crank the subwoofer way up, on certain jumps you can really shake the room. As soon as this was discovered it became, for us, the games only purpose. Late one weekday night our downstairs neighbors came upstairs and starting banging on our door…angrily. Apparently Bowser’s landings were not only making our room sake, but actually knocking things off the walls in their room. Oops.

We did become more careful with our hour to volume level ratio – but the game was a staple. We played it ALL. THE. TIME. Sadly, we have both grown up and moved apart. My wife sold my N64 along with the game, so I have been Kart-less for nearly 8 years. Kart-less, until now.

When it came to buying a new video game system, the prospects of this game pushed me to my final decision of a Wii. A decision which I do not regret at all. This game only solidifies my hopes.

I purchased the game and an extra wheel, so that anybody playing it at my house can use the wheel. Actually, I will make the rule that you have to use the wheel. And that brings me to my first point about the game. Much of the hype and many of the reviews talk about the different control options. One can use the wheel (comes with the game), the Wii-mote alone, Wii-mote and nunchuck, or either of the traditional controller options. I’ve read that if you want precision and tight races, use the controller options.

Precision? Tight races? WTF?!?! This is Mario Kart. You’re telling me that I can play with a steering wheel? A wheel that makes it even harder to control – thereby making it more fun? For goodness sake – I didn’t think that this game could get any better.

The wheel is AWESOME. It is absolutely the best thing that could have happened to this game. Now instead of having people mash buttons in an attempt to drive a “kart” around a track, you can look like a complete idiot while steering you “kart” off a cliff. And that is why the wheel is a mandatory rule in my house.

Now – what about the other improvements to the game? Well, to be honest I’ve only been able to play a little bit, so I know I still have plenty of work to do to really figure everything out. But, I can tell you about the second best thing to happen to this game – motorcycles. Sure, they tried this years ago with Diddy Kong Racing – there were no motorcycles, rather it was planes, karts and hovercrafts – but the idea of alternate vehicles were there. The problem was that Diddy Kong Racing sucked. The motorcycles (dirt bikes, scooters and racing bikes) are fantastic – and they are even HARDER to control with the wheel.

The other thing that I think can be potentially great with this game is the ability to race my old roomie Ron, and other friends that have the game. I know that people whine and moan about the “online” play that Nintendo offers – but I have no problem with it. It’s free and fairly easy to do. I have the option to play people I don’t know (bah) or play people I do know (yay). That’s all I really need.

I know that I still have plenty of exploring to do with this game, and I fully intend on doing that. However, I can say that if you have a Wii – and you want something fun – this is a good place to turn. Just remember – it’s fun. Don’t get to heady about it. Precision. Feh. It’s Mario Kart.

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