First place just became fun again

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By Bill Molina

By Bill Molina

Speeding your kart down the road in first place, you start power sliding onto the last turn of the course.

The finish line is finally within your view.

Suddenly you’re hit by a red turtle shell sending you spinning out of control.

Catching Mario out of the corner of your eye, glancing back at you, he turbo boosts out of the turn and across the finish line taking first place.

“Mario Kart” Wii drives into homes all across the world and is the best game in the franchise to date.

Improving on the already great gameplay mechanics from previous entries, the standard karts are now joined by motorcycles this time, and are far more than just cosmetic choices for what you drive.

Karts are slower and heavier but have greater boosts out of drifts, which are a big aspect of the racing.

Bikes are smaller, faster, and allow the player to pop a wheelie, granting a small speed boost but prevent you from turning for a brief time.

Both the kart and bike have three different types: a standard all around type, a faster yet harder to control type, and a slower off-road type.

You can choose from 25 classic Nintendo characters, although “baby Mario” and “baby Peach” seem tacked on and silly, even for this game.

A fantastic line-up of 16 new stages are introduced, and they’re a blast to play, especially the new “Rainbow Road.”

These are accompanied by 16 more tracks that are a mix of old courses from previous Mario Kart games.

Racing on tracks from the very first game are great trips down memory lane, but the simplistic graphics and course designs can leave you longing for newer ones.

Basic line-up of game modes are still present.

Grand Prix, time trials, and battle mode all make their return, although battle mode only allows for teams, leaving fans of free-for-all kart battles holding on to the memory of how much fun they had.

Most of the same items return, although the more high powered weapons, such as the blue spiked shell which hits first place with an unavoidable explosion, tends to appear much too frequently.

All the single player grand prix’s can be beaten in an afternoon of solid gaming.

Experienced players can get gold medals on all of them quickly.

This will leave you good and ready for the online multiplayer, which has finally been executed to next-gen standards on the Wii.

In no time at all you can be playing against people from all over the world, seeing all your opponents Mii’s and their location on the globe really makes the game more interesting since you can see what they look like.

Of course, you can also choose to play as Chuck Norris or Peter Griffin or any other Mii you happen to have, you can even have your Mii be the actual driver instead of Luigi or Toad.

They even included a Mario Kart Wii channel to install onto your Wii, from which you can compare your best times against players from the globe or just the local region.

As always, the weak point in the Wii’s armor is the lack of graphic design behind it.

When playing with four people at once, the graphics look almost identical to the Gamecube version of Mario Kart.

Special effects look crisp and the game never once shows a hint of slowdown regardless of how much chaos is happening on screen.

The steering wheel that the game comes bundled with is simply designed to help you hold the controller better, and it works magnificently.

For those who have a second player dedicated to playing online with you, invest in another steering wheel.

It will be worth it, as you toss shells and banana peels around till the wee hours of the morning trying to get that first place.

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