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12-player Mario Kart?

Told you, didn't we? But knowing that Mario Kart Wii was going to be announced at Nintendo's E3 press conference didn't make us any less excited.

When it came to the thing actually being revealed - in precisely 30 seconds of mouthwatering footage - we were cheering on the edge of our chairs just like you, gawping at the promising new tracks and classic old ones just like you... squeezing our eyelids shut and wishing that we could be transported ahead to 2008 in order to play it right now, just like you.

Of course, you want to know everything there is to know about Mario Kart Wii. So we've dug away with our info spades to uncover the secrets behind Mario Kart Wii - the characters, the vehicles, the tracks, the items, the online play - and brought the whole lot to you here.

Nintendo's E3 showing couldn't have delivered us a more exciting announcement. Drink it in, and try to come to terms with the fact that if Nintendo's plans work out, you'll be overtaking people on your big TV - online - in less than five months.



The trees are alive

No kidding - as with Super Mario Galaxy, Mario's world seems happier than ever. The trees lining Mario Circuit here actually wiggle from side to side - part of the general visual bounciness that sees smoke rising from pipes and tubfuls of gold careering over your head in Wario Mines. The waterfall in Yoshi Falls looking about a bazillion times better than it did on DS, yessir. You can bet that Nintendo's saving the dreamiest tracks for revealing much later: including this generation's optically-overloaded version of Rainbow Road.

Hop-and-Boost is back

Hop! Hop! Hop! Forget Double Dash!!'s tarmac-glued karts. The briefest glimpse of Yoshi pogoing past Luigi proves that the ace jump/skid controls from Kart 64/DS are back. The Wii's 2 button would be the natural fit for it too, and it marks a return to gratifying last-minute foe-slamming, hours spent teasing out secret/glitchy trampolining shortcuts - not to mention boosting your way out of corners with that beautiful blue burst of blowtorch-exhaust.

Another block party

Mario Kart wouldn't be Mario Kart without rainbow-shimmery "?" blocks dotting the tracks, and one section of Wario Mines shows them grouped in typical evil manner - a zig-zag across the track - that's just primed for those teeth-gnashing sliding-right-through-and-missing-them-all moments

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