Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Mario Kart Wii: Blue shells. Blue Shells, everywhere

"Ok, this is random, even for you. What gives?" I am going somewhere with this, just trust me. This requires a bit of prep work, and for that, we need to go back a bit, to one of the first Wii games I got actually, back in 2008. "Welcome to Mario Kart" Wii.

Starting with the plot, which is actually kinda dark. You're cursed to race, race to the end of the kingdom and beyond. Cursed to reach for victory, only to have it stolen by last minute weapons... also known as there is no story for this game. Name one party game that has a story, that people overall actually like and don't attack for echoed reasons a la The Subspace Emissary.

What this game does focus on is arcade racing gameplay. Using a control style of your choice (Wiimote with or without a "Wii Wheel", Wiimote and Nunchuck, Classic controller/ Classic controller Pro or Gamecube controller. I personally prefer either the CC Pro or the Wii Wheel. Yes, I said it, I use motion controls in this game, get over it), you drive through 32 race tracks either grouped in Grand Prix batches of 4, or in any order you want thanks to VS mode. You also do have the option to play battle mini games, or compete against Ghost drivers in Time trials. Unfortunately though this game no longer has Online functionality due to Nintendo shutting down the servers back in 2014. Even still there is enough content in the base game for people to still enjoy it, just that some of the modes are bland in comparison to others, like battles.

However, if you're use to Mario Kart 8, then there are going to be little things that throw you off a bit. Bikes, introduced in this game, are very overpowered if you know how to use them. However, for me, I can not drift with them to save my life, nor can I drift using the Wii Wheel. When I'm using either, or both of those, I'm using a feature I wished was in MK8, Automatic drifting. Using this option, you don't get a turbo boost, but you do still turn as if you were drifting without the button presses. It is a great option for new players (or people who can't drift with a bike) to get into the series, and one I wished returned in other Mario kart games. The other major difference is item ratios, which becomes a problem in Grand Prix. If you are in first, you are going to get hit by almost everything, and three of the items avoidable by luck, one is impossible to miss unless your invincible, or self destruct costing your rank. Oh yeah, forgot to mention, in Grand Prix mode, upon completing a cup, you are given a rank of E, to 3 stars. To get a 3 star ranking you need to lead 99% of the four races, that 1% being the time you get from last to first at the start of the first track, never fall off the track and pray to the Mario Kart RNG gods you don't get hit too much, because every time you get hit, you run the risk of loosing that 3 star rank. To say that I don't bother with that is an understatement, I like my sanity, or what I define as sanity.

Track selection wise, its pretty good overall. All the tracks are fun to go through, just that some shine brighter then others. My personal favorites are Toad's Factory, Mushroom Gorge, DK Snowboard Cross Wario's Gold Mine, Bowser's Castle, N64 Mario Raceway, Koopa Cape and Rainbow Road. Yes, I like Rainbow Road tracks, I find them fun. The soundtrack is also a favorite of mine. While I do prefer the live instruments of MK8, MKWii's soundtrack is still very good, songs often appearing on my iPod as a result. Again, a favorite of mine is Rainbow Road, it has a great melody to it. Visually, its a Wii game, its not the prettiest thing now, but it does look good. I love the bright colours, bright enough to keep me interested, but never distracted, which is a must for this kind of game.

To settle a debate. For more casual players, I think Mario Kart Wii is the better of the two games. For fans of the series, I think Mario Kart 8 is better, as it is better balanced for skill whereas Wii's balanced more for luck. It still requires a lot of skill, but its easier to have victory stolen from you at the last moment thanks to a blue shell, red shell, POW block and Lightning bolt combo. You think I'm joking, but that has happened to me, a lot. Next review is of Combatacon Brawl, and come next week, while I'm at the 2016 Tech Games Fest, it'll be a review of... Mario Kart Wii... again... I am going somewhere with this, honest.

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