Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Mario Kart Retrospective: Mario Kart Wii

Surprisingly enough, this is the one entry in the series that I'm least familiar with. I was always aware of the game and I have played it, but this is the last Mario Kart game that I actually bought. Does that mean I don't like it? No, not really, but it is lacking something that I can't quite put my finger on.

There are really three big changes to Mario Kart Wii that makes it stand out from previous entries in the series, and most of them are for the better unlike Double Dash!!. The biggest addition to the franchise that actually has long lasting effects are the inclusion of bikes into races. When I first heard that bikes were being added to the series, I honestly could have cared less. I thought that it wouldn't give any significant change to the core game and was just there for aesthetic purposes. After playing though, man did I change my mind on that. Bikes are just plain fun to drive in. They're light, they have great acceleration, and I just prefer to drive in them. They even included tricks into races for both bikes and karts, where if you're able to pull one off you get a little speed boost, which is a fair way at equalizing the game.

Also, you obviously have the addition of motion controls to the series. Most copies of this game were bundled with the Wii Wheel to encourage people to play with the motion controls, but it supports Gamecube controllers, Wii classic controllers, and the Wii remote with nunchuk. There's plenty of variety for everyone to find a control scheme that works for me, my personal favorite being the Wii remote and nunchuk, but the amount of variety is commendable. Everyone can find a way to play the game and everyone can feel comfortable while doing it.

One addition that I'm sure lots of people went nuts over was the expansion of the online mode of the game. Now, you could race with strangers online for races across the world, exchanges ghost times with other players, and just race to your heart's content. It says a lot how even up until Nintendo shut off their online servers for the Wii and DS that people were still playing this game, six years after it released. Really, it's probably out of the idea of forcing the players to transition to greener pastures to continue their competitions, but hell, it defined this game more than anything else. Everyone was talking about the online modes in Mario Kart Wii, more so than the local multiplayer. 

There was also the addition of making the races feature 12 players, but that never really changed the way the game was played for me. I still kept on racing and it may have made the game a bit harder, but not by much. And truth be told, that's really all I have to say about this game. Did it advance the series to new heights? Yes. Did this game become the best selling racing game of all time? Of course it did. So why aren't I falling in love with this game if it's changed the series for the better. 

Honestly, I don't know. There's just something about this game that makes me feel like yes, it is a really good game, but I don't have any significant attachment to it. It's kind of like how people praise Ocarina of Time as being the best Legend of Zelda game. You can explain why and I could objectively see why it's so good, but on an emotional level I just don't really see it. It's good, but it doesn't have that same creative spark going for it. None of the courses really stuck out to me, and the new racers included didn't wow me over either. It's little things, but it just didn't have me going over the top for it. 

It may be because I got into the game really late, actually buying a copy a few months ago, but I did play it in doses when at parties and with a bunch of friends. I just don't really have that emotional attachment to it. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great game and easily in the top 3 of the whole series, but I don't think it has that same pow that made me fall in love with the series. It's still a great game, but that's all I see it as; a great game that I can admire, but not love. 

And now with less than a week away from Mario Kart 8's release, we have one more game to look at, and it's an interesting one at that. Some people love it, some are disappointed in it, and it leaves me in an odd state of mind. Next time, we're looking at Mario Kart 7.

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