Mario Kart Wii review

  • Risky drifting
  • Fantastic online play
  • Wheel or joystick - both work
  • Weak offline multiplayer
  • Still dumb, cheap AI
  • Imperfect vehicle balance

Basics first. Analogue stick steering? Fine. It sits somewhere between Mario Kart 64 and Double Dash - there’s none of the sluggishness of Dash’s fattened karts, but it’s got more grip and presence than 64’s pseudo-3D floaty-mobiles. And drifting? Really solid. Instigated by performing a hop, a drift boost is no longer gained by steering in and out of the slide, but is now dictated by the length of the slide. Drift for long enough and the blue sparks turn to blue flames, before flaring a bright, super-boost-coloured red.

Boosting is a case of less is more. Despite being easier to pull off than the old waggling technique - you literally just hold down the hop button and steer into the bend - the boost is harder to trick and manipulate. Is this the end of snaking? We certainly hope so. Sure, you can hop and force a drift along a straight, but the game doesn’t like giving you boost power unless you’re on a corner. It may be technical witchcraft, but we won’t send it to the ducking stool.

Having to hold the drift for as long as possible actually makes for a riskier game. Do you try to drift through multiple bends in one maneuver for a mega boost, or chop it into more manageable pieces? It also calls for reevaluation of the retro tracks included here, as strategic slides question your tried and tested racing lines, and best times once thought unbeatable are soundly trounced.

Not only are you attempting to cultivate a zen-like appreciation of corners, but you have a stunt boost to chase, too. Whether launching off a ramp or passing a minor bump in the road, a quick remote shake activates a trick and rewards you with a turbo upon landing. There’s no way to mess it up and no tricksy angled landings a la Excite Truck. It’s as pure and obvious as Mario Kart has ever been.

Not all courses offer ripe openings for both abilities. Bumpless tarmac tracks focus more on smooth drifts, while others are so bump-fat - racing over the knotted roots of Maple Treeway, for example - that you rarely touch the ground, let alone drift. Trick spots are even sparser in the four retro cups - it’s quite obvious where ramps have been shoehorned in. The inconsistency isn’t game-ruining, but it’ll surely help some tracks find stardom quicker than others.

More Info

Release date: Apr 27 2008 - Wii (US)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Racing
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Nintendo
Franchise: Mario
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Comic Mischief


  • CMG - December 21, 2009 3:17 p.m.

    Mario Kart Wii is one of those games I enjoyed playing. Even though I have basically finished the entire game I just cant get enough of it. 10/10
  • guiarherodrummer1998 - December 12, 2009 3:39 p.m.

    insane game. no doubt. except for the fact that i beat it already. I still give it a 14 of 15 for Longevity.
  • kazzleh - October 2, 2009 7:46 a.m.

    Love Mario Kart. Hate the wheel - you're much better off with just using your Wii controller!
  • yaanyfizzle - October 25, 2008 2:16 p.m.

    i still love this site though
  • justin321 - September 6, 2008 2:44 a.m.

    well ur right we need at least somthing like wii speak be implemented into future or past games and then third party developpers would make a headset not licisenced by nintendo a few months after wii speak
  • justin321 - August 30, 2008 8:07 p.m.

    online is a blast but like brawl in needs voice chat in headset and im not saying wii speak it also needs to take the crappy friend codes
  • sonymon - November 12, 2008 5:53 p.m.

    It is worth to spend for MARIO.
  • yaanyfizzle - October 25, 2008 1:36 p.m.

    I cant believe i actualy spent 50 euros on this game and a further 20 on another steering wheel,its just,unbelievably aweful.At least its taught me not to believe every review i read, thanks for that at least
  • adrenaguy - October 19, 2008 11:09 p.m.

    wii speak sounds like a great idea, and the headset might plug into the nunchuck slot and then be a wirless reciever while the nunchuck plugs into a slot on sed reciver
  • rolyat14 - September 4, 2008 12:26 a.m.

    this game is just like what justin321 says it is, a blast on online! but i would take wii speak for an online speaking system, hey its better than nothing.
  • Haxorz - July 23, 2009 3:10 a.m.

    Eh,I agree with the last part. Miss the old battle system and duel Grand Prix. Also the whole 12 AI gets anonnying. But the Online play makes up for it in a sense. Just will never play battle again...
  • TiTE - June 8, 2009 5:30 a.m.

    What are u guys talking about this game is incredible the way it is games radar should have given a 10.
  • Haxorz - September 20, 2009 9:10 p.m.

    In all actuallity, you can remove the Ai's, there is a button to do so, or option in this case.

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