Welcome to the 20th Really Pathetic News Network Game Review, circa 4/29/2008.
It is always hard to judge a game from first impressions, but some times they are all you get, and they are always important, at least.
Fortunately, I experienced enough of the new Mario Kart in what I can only assume is its best sides to feel like I might be able to make a decent glimpse of what it is like.
Now, historically all Mario Kart games are their most fun when played in multiplayer, in the company of good friends, preferably three of them, preferably playing Battle, and preferably shouting foulmutohed obscenities at one another, all in good fun, of course.
So, with this in mind, we set out to utterly wreck one another, and discovered Battle is now apparently a team thing, blue versus red. Filled with AI things that are not nearly as much fun to shoot, since they don't react in quite the same way as your buddy two feet to your left.
I perhaps chose rather foolishly to play as Bowser on a motorcycle, mixing new (the bike) with an old favourite (Bowser). For those of you who don't know, Bowser is the giant bad guy, and in Mario Kart this means he is so heavy he turns incredibly slow and accelerates incredibly slow, but once he gets rolling he will ram those tiny little chumps out of his way and do so at a high max speed, making him incredibly dangerous when you know your way around the controls. I did not, because steering with the wiimote is so far from an old analog stick as you can get. And thus, my dangerous beast was more or less so much dead weight on two wheels.
Well, slightly disappointed with Battle mode, we decided to try some good ol' fashioned racing. At least this time I was in a kart, but I was still driving the big clumsy monster that cannot be controlled with a wiimote, and doing so over some new tracks and some old favourites. Aside from noting that beach tracks are still highly sadistic, we noticed a few other things: Mario Kart Wii is ruthlessly unforgiving at times. The slightest mistake and you end up in the last or second to last place. That is, unless you get a Bullet Bill (the cannon rounds) or something similarly fun, in which case you end up in first place again. The Bullet Bill thing is new, by the way, and really does seem to shoot you straight to first place, which one can argue is either a good way to turn the whole thing around and get something unexpected to happen, or it can be argued that it is simply far, far too random. True enough, once at first place all it takes is a small shove and you are left eating dust and back in the eleventh, but it still seems overpowered, and feels like one of those things designed to merely let the casual players stand a chance at first.
All in all, the game was fun enough that we tried a few races, but difficult to steer enough that I cannot really tell if there is that good Mario Kart magic in there. I would assume so, but something felt slightly off all the same, and whether this is entirely due to the unfamiliar control method (I never played Excite Truck, okay?) or a slight change in game mechanics is hard to tell. The game lacks a new version of Block Fort, however, and right there is a huge drawback.
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