08 February 2009

Mario Kart Wii or, The Simple Pleasures of Hitting Donkey Kong with a Red Koopa Shell

Until playing Mario Kart Wii, my relationship with the Mario Kart series had been lukewarm at best. I enjoyed the series, played each game (although I don't think I ever got around to playing the Gamecube version), and moved on. The Wii version has changed this, for two reasons. First: the steering wheel. What might seem a small innovation is, in fact, almost entirely responsible for the increased fun of this installment. It's so much more satisfying to drive a kart with an actual steering wheel that with a D-pad or whatever that thumb-enemy thing was on the Nintendo 64. When you first examine the steering wheel and see it's nothing more than a plastic casing for the Wiimote, deflated expectations set in. However, with a little play time, this quickly goes away. The steering wheel is pretty basic, but it does what it needs to do, i.e., provide an increased feeling of simulation.

The second reason this installment of the Kart series has enslaved so many of my days: online capabilities. The Wii hasn't gotten a lot of credit for its online multiplayer options, but for this game, it is excellent. While it feels good to defeat Toad, Koopa Troopa, and Bowser in the Grand Prix, it doesn't compare to leaving *Wiiner124* and *RacerXXX* in the dust. Well, at least, I imagine this to be true, since I rarely win an online race.

Of course, as with any video game, frustrations and tensions run high in the world of Mario Kart. I am particularly susceptible to these frustrations, and my vocabulary of expletives grows with each race. Instances that bring out the worst: falling off the track, repeatedly, in SNES Ghost Valley 2; going from 1st place to 12th because some bastard launched a flying shellbomb at my face; falling off the track, repeatedly, in Wario's Gold Mine; and having Error Message 91010 pop up after I've waited forever to start a race.

Still, I've managed to avoid throwing the steering wheel through the TV, so I've graduated in restraint from my days of playing MegaMan on the NES. I tell you, that NES controller could take a licking. The lightgun, on the other hand...

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HellaBass said...

I think the cord on the NES controllers helped, kind of like a tether cord, so you couldn't throw the remote as far, LOL!!!

Shawn Bryan said...

That's probably true, although there is the flip side of that, which is someone accidentally tripping over the cord, dragging the Nintendo off the shelf and causing Mario to freeze the first time you ever got to World 8-4 and you were just THIS DAMN CLOSE. . .uh. . .I mean, I imagine that could have happened.

Estella said...

Probably most important technique the slide boost. If you can get blue boost on every corner you be streaks ahead of the competition. The Nintendo wii kart cheats available in game often are more subtle than in other games, but nonetheless very useful, especially in tight race.

Mario Kart Wii Nintendo Wii