Now Playing: Mario Kart Wii

I picked up Mario Kart Wii from Target last Sunday morning but I just haven’t had that much time to play it yet. I did spend a couple of hours with the game earlier this week and thought I’d offer a few first impressions.

Controls: You’ve probably read all about it elsewhere, but there are at least 4 different control schemes for the game. I’m here to tell you that the only two that matter are the remote/nunchuk combo and the Wii wheel. The remote/nunchuk seems to be the most responsive to me, but the wheel is surprisingly fun. I did try the wavebird controller and wasn’t very excited – you have to take your finger off of the analog stick and hit the d-pad to pull off a trick when jumping, and that’s a little risky. I think I’m mostly going to stick with the remote/nunchuk.

Graphics: Pretty sweet! The tracks that I’ve seen have been very impressive, and as the franchise has developed the tracks have gone from being flat to much more 3-dimensional, with jumping and multiple levels scattered throughout. The eye candy is pretty nice, but it’s not what I’d call a “quantum leap” – it’s not as brilliantly eye-catching as Super Mario Galaxy, but very nice nonetheless.

Gameplay: Overall it’s just not that much different from the classic games. The Infendo podcast called it a combination of Mario Kart DS and Double Dash, and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. The one big complaint that everyone has is about the merciless use of lead-killing weapons (like those blue koopa shells) that make the game more about random chance and less about skill. I will say that I haven’t encountered that to the degree that many reviewers have, but as I said I haven’t played it through entirely.

One comment to make about all the Kart coverage going on out there – has everyone forgotten Mario Kart Advance? That was a pretty fun game – not as exciting as DS, but it was the first to let you play Kart wherever you wanted to…

Still to Come: I haven’t really done much with the bikes or multiplayer (online or local), so I’m going to give all of that a spin and try to post a longer review later this week sometime.

Update 1: I finished the Williams Pinball challenge mode, and that was a ton of fun. Going through all the tables in a row was cool, and there was one table (Space Shuttle) that just about gave me a fit. I don’t know why – in arcade mode I routinely pwn that game, but in the challenge it pretty much pwned me.

Update 2: For you Doctor Who fans, The Poison Sky has finished airing on the BBC and is snaking its way around the world as we speak. I’ll have a review up later tonight – I’m really looking forward to this one!

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