Mario Kart Wii (マリオカートWii, Mario Kāto Uī?) is a racing game developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development and published by Nintendo for the Wii console. It is the sixth installment in the Mario Kart series and the second Mario Kart title to use the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The game was released worldwide throughout April 2008, but one year later in South Korea. Every copy of the game is packaged with the Wii Wheel accessory, which is designed to house the Wii Remote to allow more intuitive and conventional steering.
Changes from its predecessor, Mario Kart DS, include motorbikes and support for up to twelve racers online. Like other games in the Mario Kart series, it involves various characters from several Mario games racing each other on tracks themed from locations in the Mario series. Support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection allows racing against other players from around the world, and online competitions and results are available by installing the Mario Kart Channel to the Wii Menu.
Mario Kart Wii was first shown at E3 2007. It has been positively received by critics; while not revolutionary, the online capability and the large number of tracks, characters and karts have been praised. The game had a commercially successful launch in every region, and sold over a million copies in both Japan and the United States in less than a month. Overall, it is the second best-selling game for Wii at 28 million copies sold, after Wii Sports. As of May 15, 2011 the game is bundled with newer Wii consoles.
See also: Mario Kart#Gameplay.
In Mario Kart Wii, players choose a character from a roster consisting of up to 24 characters and from 36 vehicles, separated into three different weight classes. A character's weight decides the available types of karts and motorbikes, and their performance on the tracks. Each vehicle has seven different parameters for characteristics: speed, weight, acceleration, handling, drift, off-road, and mini-turbo. Mario Kart Wii includes 32 different tracks, including 16 new tracks, four tracks each from Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart DS, and two each from Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit, and up to twelve characters can participate in a race. Players obtain items by driving through item boxes, which can be used for either defense, offense, or for powering up the engine. New items from Mario platform games are introduced, including the "Mega Mushroom" from New Super Mario Bros., which allows the character to grow enormous in size and flatten opposing characters, and the "POW BLOCK" from Mario Bros., which allows the character to send a shockwave to all the characters in front of them, spinning them out of control and causing them to drop any items they may be carrying (there is no effect, however, on those who are airborne). One additional item new to the series is the "Lightning Cloud", which raises the user's top speed briefly, but shrinks the user if it is not passed on to an opponent by colliding with them.
Mario Kart Wii features 24 selectable Nintendo characters, more than any of its predecessors. In addition to this there are 12 variants (3 weight classes, 2 genders, 2 outfits) of the Mii, the digital avatar created by Nintendo. Twelve characters are available from the beginning; the other twelve and the two Mii variants become available after finishing certain elements of the game. The cast of characters includes 19 returning characters from the series and six newcomers; Baby Peach, Funky Kong, user-created Miis, Rosalina, Dry Bowser, and Baby Daisy, a new character in the Mario series. There are eight characters of each weight class. The Mii's weight class depends on its height and weight (this can be customized in the Mii Channel), and its favorite color affects the color scheme of its clothing, while the gender affects the color scheme of their vehicles.
The game is packaged with a Wii Wheel, a peripheral that acts as the primary control scheme. Because the Wii Wheel only provides a simulation of a steering wheel and offers no actual functionality, players can forgo the accessory while using only the Remote in a similar manner. There are also methods that can be used without the Wii Wheel, such as the Wii Remote with Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, or the Nintendo GameCube controller. The ability to "snake" in previous Mario Kart games, which creates speed boosts by repeatedly drifting, has been greatly reduced in favor of a new speed boost system based on how long the player actually drifts and the angle at which they drift. While bikes can perform wheelies for a speed boost, they have a limited turning ability for the duration of a wheelie. Karts cannot do wheelies, but can get longer boosts on drifting. Also featured is the ability to "slipstream". Additionally, a new feature called "Tricks" or "Stunts" are now a part of gameplay. Flicking the Wii Wheel or Wii Remote upwards, or pressing up on the d-pad, on take-off will cause the character to perform stunts in mid-air, allowing the player to obtain a small speed boost upon landing.
Unlike previous installments, "Grand Prix" is only available in single-player mode. The player races in a series of Grand Prix cups against eleven computer-controlled competitors. Each cup consists of four races, and may be raced at 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, or an unlockable Mirror Mode that can be won by winning first place in the regular 150cc cups. At the end of the cup, players are awarded a trophy based on their finishing position and a rating based upon how well they raced. Mirror Mode from Mario Kart 64, Double Dash, and DS becomes available by completing certain elements of the game, and flips the tracks around so that right becomes left and left becomes right.
In "Time Trial", players try to finish a course as quickly as possible. Like in previous games, the fastest time will be saved as a ghost, a copy of the player's performance which can be raced against, or sent to the Mario Kart Channel, where they can view how their ranking stacks up against other players. "Versus Mode" entails one to four local players racing head-to-head in a single race on any course either with or without artificial intelligence (AI) players.
The game also features "Battle Mode", consisting of "Balloon Battle" and "Coin Runners". Players are split into two teams randomly, and start on one of the twelve battle courses. In Balloon Battle, each player has three balloons attached to their vehicle. Every time a player is hit by an opposing player's weapon, a balloon is lost, and the score for each team is altered accordingly. If players lose all their balloons, they are given three new balloons and the team loses a point. A player can also "steal" an opponent's balloon by crashing into them when their speed is boosted by use of a mushroom power-up. After the three-minute time limit ends, the team that has popped the most balloons wins. In Coin Runners, coins are scattered over the battle course. When players drive over a coin they will pick it up, but being hit by an opposing player's weapon causes them to drop coins; the amount of coins lost differs based on which weapon they were struck by. The team in possession of most coins when the three minute time limit is reached wins.
Mario Kart Wii allows players to race against each other through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which features online racing and battle modes, supporting up to twelve simultaneous competitors. Two players per Wii console can connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There are three options: "Worldwide", "Regional" (called "Continental" in European versions), and "Friends". The first two options match the player against those of a similar rank, either from around the world or his/her surrounding geographical region, and the third option lets him/her race against listed friends and uses the friend code system. The courses are decided by a voting system where the course is randomly selected from the courses voted for by the players. When playing online for the first time players are given a skill rating of 5000 points and based on wins and losses, this increases or decreases to rank the player's skill level. The game features online text chat between players where users are able to select from a set of predetermined phrases when playing with friends.
The game also includes the "Mario Kart Channel" (its features can be installed to the Wii Menu and requires, depending on region and content, between 74 and 86 blocks), which presents the current regional and worldwide rankings, and the option of sending or downloading saved time trials (ghosts) using WiiConnect24. Mario Kart Channel also offers worldwide tournaments from Nintendo. The channel enables users to check if any members of their Friend roster are currently online, and to participate in a race or battle with them.
Mario Kart Wii was officially announced at the 2007 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3); the online features and the first footage of the game was shown. During Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime's presentation, he unveiled the game via a trailer that showed some of the new characters and tracks. The trailer also displayed that the game would include up to twelve simultaneous racers, and that the dual-character component featured in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! was removed. Additional details of the game were later released in conjunction with the Nintendo Fall 2007 Conference held in October 2007, where it was revealed that it would include motorbikes and the Wii Wheel. New gameplay footage from the game was also shown, and the release date was revealed to be set for spring 2008.
Producer Hideki Konno wanted to include online features for Mario Kart DS, but they were left out due to time constraints. These features would, however, be implemented in Mario Kart Wii. The developers wanted to avoid races becoming more deserted as they progressed, thus altering the online matchmaking to allow players to join a race once it is finished for participation in the next one. Konno had been proposing ideas involving BMX since Double Dash!!, but they were rejected. In Mario Kart Wii, the developers were able to incorporate motorbikes. The game was called "Mario Kart X" internally for a while, before deciding on "Mario Kart Wii". General producer and Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto's inputs were limited to new aspects of play such as the Wii Wheel and battles over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The designers tested roughly 30 different prototypes with different shapes, colors and weights (based on real-life go-karts), before deciding on the final Wii Wheel design.
The music was composed by Asuka Ota and Ryo Nagamatsu, who used new interpretations of the familiar melodies from earlier games and also new material. The speaker on the Wii Remote is frequently used during gameplay, as sound effects like crashes and warning signals are emitting from it. It was during the extensive testings of the different Wii Wheel prototypes the developers decided that it would be good to have the voice actors playing the game during recording sessions. The main voice cast of the game consists of Charles Martinet, performing as Mario, Luigi, Wario, and Waluigi, Sam Kelly, performing as Peach, Toad, and Toadette, Deanna Mustard, performing as Daisy, Kenny James, as Bowser, Caety Sagoian, as Bowser Jr., Mercedes Rose, as Rosalina, Takashi Nagasako, as Donkey Kong, Katsumi Suzuki, as Diddy Kong, Toshihide Tsuchiya, as Funky Kong and Kazumi Totaka, as Yoshi, with additional voices being provided by Ayumi Nagao, Fumihiro Okabayashi, Hitomi Hirose, Kōki Harasawa (as "Katsuhiro Harasawa"), Takuya Sato, Tomo Adachi, Tomoyuki Higuchi and Yūko Kaida.
|Metacritic||82 of 100|
|Edge||6 of 10|
|Eurogamer||8 of 10|
|Famitsu||37 of 40|
|GameSpot||8.5 of 10|
|GameSpy||4.5 of 5|
|GameTrailers||8.4 of 10|
|IGN||8.5 of 10|
|Nintendo Power||9 of 10|
Mario Kart Wii had a successful launch and sold 300,000 copies on the launch day in Japan alone, compared to Mario Kart DS which sold 160,000 copies on its first day and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! which sold 180,000 on its first day. In the week ending May 4, 2008, Mario Kart Wii had sold over a million copies in Japan alone, less than a month since its release in the region. In the UK, Mario Kart Wii was the best-selling video game in the week ending April 12, 2008, having "the eighth biggest opening sales week in UK software history," according to Chart-Track/ELSPA. The game dwarfed all other five Mario Wii games released up until then for the Wii combined when comparing first week sales. In the United States, Mario Kart Wii was the second best-selling video game in April 2008, selling 1.12 million copies, according to the NPD Group; putting it behind the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto IV and ahead of the PlayStation 3 version, both released in the same week. It ranked the fourth best-selling game of December 2008 in the United States, selling in excess of 979,000 copies. According to the NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track, and Enterbrain, the game has sold 2.409 million copies in the United States, 687,000 in the United Kingdom, and 1.601 million in Japan, respectively, for a total of 4.697 million copies sold by August 1, 2008. As of March 2009, Nintendo has sold 15.4 million copies of Mario Kart Wii worldwide. As of January 4, 2009, it has sold 2,133,000 copies in Japan. It is also the fourth best-selling game of Japan in 2008. According to the NPD Group, GfK Chart-Track, and Enterbrain, the game has sold 856,000 copies in the United States, 394,000 in the United Kingdom, and 218,000 in Japan, respectively, for a total of 1.468 million copies sold in the third quarter of 2008 (July–September). It is the second best-selling game of 2008 in the United States, selling in excess of 5 million copies.
With 28 million copies sold as of April 2011, it is the best-selling Mario game for the Wii console as well as ranking second on the best-selling Wii games list. It is also among the best-selling stand-alone games of all time.
Mario Kart Wii has been received by critics positively, especially praising the online capability and the large number of tracks, characters and karts. Joe Sinicki of Blast Magazine comments: "While it still does suffer from some of the problems of the older games, Mario Kart Wii takes the simple and accessible formula set by its predecessors and tweaks it enough to make it feel fresh and fun, creating one of the most entertaining and rewarding gaming experiences in quite some time." Official Nintendo Magazine UK commented that the Wii Wheel worked very effectively and loved the different multiplayer modes. GameSpot producer Lark Anderson complimented that the game is easy to jump into for players of any skill level and that motorcycles provide a great alternative to go-karts, and IGN commented that "Nintendo has delivered one of the best console Karts in years". Plugged In stated that the racing is easy to do and that "the Grand Prix Cup events and several team battle modes keep things interesting".Classic Game Room praised the game. They stated that the game had high production value, great replay value, and that the online play was a major strength of the game.
NGamer, however, claimed that the tracks are too big for local multiplayer matches. Also, IGN criticized the rubber band AI in the 150cc races of the Grand Prix and NGamer UK was disappointed that Battle mode can now only be played in teams; no free-for-all option is offered which removes the 'last man standing' element of previous Mario Kart Battle modes. Reviewers such as GameTrailers and IGN also commented that it is easy to fall from first place to last by being continuously attacked by several weapons, many of which are unavoidable, leading to a certain amount of luck in racing. This makes it more accessible for beginners, but can be extremely discouraging for skilled players. GameSpot also noted that "nostalgia doesn't save most of the classic courses from being boring".
The game won multiple Wii-specific awards from IGN in its 2008 video game awards, including Best Racing Game and Best Online Multiplayer Game. IGN also nominated it for Best Family Game for the Wii.