Mario Kart Wii review

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

But hold on a minute. If the extra four karts don’t add anything to the Grand Prix, why include them? It’s not like Nintendo to crowbar in excessive features for the hell of it - they’re the master game pruners. Keep that in mind as we enter the final lap of our Mario Kart Wii review. In racing terms, this is where you pull your finest tricks out of the bag to get ahead, but likewise, this is where slip-ups are most painfully felt.

The trick we’re referring to? Online play. As an online Wii experience it shames its rivals. Smash Bros. may offer a cavalcade of online modes, but it’s crudely handled. Press a button and you play Smash Bros. online. Caveman basic. Mario Kart is a crafted online experience designed to develop a community. From the immensely slick and welcoming lobby system to the special Mario Kart Channel installed on the Wii menu, everything about it drips thoughtfulness. It’s the first online Wii title where you feel like you’re developing a competitive online profile and not just accessing a rubbish database that only records how many games you’ve won (ahem, Mario Strikers Charged and Pokémon Battle Revolution).

Chasing best times has always been the lifeblood of Mario Kart, and through the downloadable ghost runs of the Mario Kart Channel it’s taken to a global level of competition. Challenge your friends to beat your racing ghost or download the number one ghost time in the world and see how you measure up against them. No longer will results have to be filtered through monthly magazine pages to find out whether ‘I’m the best’. This is an instant, ever-evolving online contest. And online, 12-kart races finally make sense. Humiliating 11 AI karts is nothing like racing 11 human minds. The spirited chaos of the lower ranks that you’re denied by the ease of single-player? Not an issue here. Not to mention the 12-player takes on other modes. Balloon Battle is now a team effort - four gangs of three working to burst as many as possible. The Grand Prix can be raced as a team, you and friends clubbing together to ensure you all place higher than rival members.

Mad. Ridiculous. But all in the spirit of fun. It’s Nintendo all right. Only it isn’t. Because the Nintendo we know and love would never sacrifice one portion of a game for another. Nintendo trim and tweak to perfection. Not so here. The pressure to deliver an online experience has led to Nintendo overlooking the local multiplayer mode - the one that carried Mario Kart for all these years. Four-player Balloon Battle? It stinks. Designed for 12 players, the remaining eight teammates are AI drivers - completely undermining the skill-based play the mode has always rewarded. Same goes for Coin Grabbing, a new battle mode that needs little explanation.

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


  • 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.
  • 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 - 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...
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • sonymon - November 12, 2008 5:53 p.m.

    It is worth to spend for MARIO.
  • 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
  • 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
  • yaanyfizzle - October 25, 2008 2:16 p.m.

    i still love this site though
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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

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