Mario Kart Wii Review for Nintendo Wii

Mario Kart is back and making its first appearance on the Nintendo Wii.

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jun. 03, 2008

Developed and published by Nintendo, Mario Kart Wii is the sixth Mario Kart game in the series. One of the most popular gaming series ever, almost every gamer has competed in at least one Mario Kart race or battle in a Mario Kart at some point. I can still remember playing Mario Kart for the Super Nintendo for hours on end with my brothers, wasting plenty of sunny summer days sitting inside trying to win one more race for bragging rights in the household.

Many gamers would argue that those classic moments from the original and Nintendo 64 versions of the game are few and far between with the latest installments of the Mario Kart games. Don’t be so quick to judge Mario Kart Wii!

From the moment you start the game up you are presented with a very typical Nintendo-friendly and easy to use menu system. After a quick driver’s license set up (that work like save files) using my your as the picture, you are presented with the game’s meat and potatoes. After a few clicks and shakes of the Wii remote a Grand Prix 50CC match is setup and ready to go.

Game Details

Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
Release Date:
 April 27, 2008
Avaialable on: Nintendo Wii
Number of Players: 1 - 12

As you may have heard or noticed when you bought the game, a big feature of Mario Kart Wii is the gaming wheel (Wii Wheel) that is included with the game. Like most, figured it was a tacky gimmick, but after more than 30 hours of game play we are still using it and loving it. Gamers will quickly decide if they like the Wii Wheel or not. If the Wii Wheel isn’t your thing, the game also supports remote + nunchuk, virtual console controller or a classic gamecube controller.

Whatever controller you do use, Mario Kart Wii does an excellent job with easy to control karts and another new feature - bikes! Bikes are presented in a fun way and are not just tacked on for another gimmick. You are able to do wheelies and even tricks in the air in order to gain speed boosts throughout the race.

As expected the bikes are also faster and control differently then the karts, giving you the option to race with just karts, just bikes or mixed. Users of the bikes will find that they have to be careful on tracks like Rainbow Road or Wario Mines, where the lack of walls and an opponent with a large kart can quickly put them over the edge and losing their valuable position in the race. One of the other things often overlooked in other Mario Karts were the number of opponents included in the race. This time around Nintendo has upped the ante with 12 racers, making for a much more competitive and fun race.

As you work your way through the cups, you will notice something different from the traditional Mushroom, Flower and Star cups. New cups (originally presented in Mario Kart DS), such as the Leaf Cup, present classic Mario Kart tracks from previous games, each game having at least 2 of its tracks present. These retro tracks aren’t just for racing either; classic battle-mode tracks are also present, including Nintendo 64’s ever-popular Skyscraper. Well-done Nintendo!

'Battle mode is a ton of fun, especially if you are playing online with 11 other players.'

Battle mode is back to its old self as well, in a sense. The balloon battle is back, but this time it’s done in a team format. You are put on a team of six and given three minutes to pop as many of your opponents’ balloons as possible. Unfortunately, the classic deathmatch isn’t available anymore, but it is soon forgotten’s first play with battle soon turned out to be a three-hour long ordeal, as it was hard to stop put down the Wii Wheel. Battle mode is a ton of fun, especially if you are playing online with 11 other players. Another feature of battle mode is a coin attack, in which the objective is to collect and hold the most coins while time runs out. It’s fun, but balloon battle remains our favorite.

Adding to all these game-play features is a very nice graphics package. This is a well-polished and it’s easy on the eyes. Mario Kart Wii displays rich colors and detailed karts, bikes and tracks with lots of elements - on and off the screen. New Wii tracks will include your Mii on billboards or in the crowd cheering you on, which is a nice touch. The game suffers from little to no slowdown, even with 12 karts or bikes on screen and lots of shells and bananas flying. Special effects like fire and weapons are nicely detailed and colorful. Each track has multiple features with creative track designs -  from rumbling volcanoes to desert ruins - each with their own challenges lap to lap.

Sound effects in the game are simple and creative, with expected character catch phrases and actions. The music only improves the experience, with each song fitting the style of the track. Retro music is even included for those retro tracks to completely finish off the experience.
Online play for Mario Kart Wii is exceptional. We’ve played many online Wii games, but Mario Kart Wii is definitely Nintendo’s best and strongest effort. Gamers can quickly go online by themselves or with a friend and play some online 12-player racing or battles. has played online extensively and has never had a bad experience – games are lag-free and enjoyable. Players are able to select to race against friends, against regional opponents or against worldwide opponents. From there the online system will automatically select opponents and show your opponents’ locations in the world, which is a nice touch. Nintendo’s only downfall with online is the lack of ability to have communication with other players, supporting no voice chat or text chatting or even set text phrases. Hopefully they’ll change this in the future.
Another welcome addition is the Mario Kart Wii Channel, which can be added right to your Wii console menu. If you don’t have the Mario Kart disc you can still check and download ghost race data, check your current online rankings against friends and other players and even see if a new tournament began with the Mario Kart Channel. As of this review Nintendo was running its second tournament – players simply race the specified track and submit their scores to see an online ranking.

We think this game has a lot of lasting appeal and it’s only enhanced with multiple cups, tracks and characters to unlock. In order to unlock them all you will be playing for a long time. Online play will keep you coming back for more and more if you are unable to get four friends together and play some local races instead.

Overall Mario Kart is as great as it once was. This truly feels like the Mario Kart of old with updated graphics, features and online play. Mario Kart Wii is extremely addictive, fun to play and easy to pick up for any type of player. With a wide variety of tracks, karts and bikes it will keep you and your friends entertained for hours on end.

Gameplay 9 / 10
  • Tons of great new features – bikes/retro tracks/online
  • Easy to use controls, including the Wii Wheel
  • Lots of unlockables - from tracks to characters
Graphics 8.75 / 10
  • Nintendo quality
  • Shows off what the Wii can do – 12 players with no slow down
Audio 8.5 / 10
  • The quality you would expect from Nintendo
Lasting Appeal 9.25 / 10
  • Extensive and immersive online
  • Numerous tracks – never gets old
  • Just as much fun as the old Mario Karts
Overall Score 9 / 10