After an exhaustive 2-year study during which my blood pressure has been sorely tested, I have come to the conclusion that Mario Kart Wii is the most unfair version of the game yet. Time after time, I’ve been leading the final lap only for the ridiculously biased Wii opponents to fling a blue shell in my direction that pushes me back to 8th position when the same action on the Wii players would only make them lose a couple of places. Worse still, this is immediately followed by a Bullet Bill, armada of shells or some other rubbish to dump me back even further to 12th.
One of the worst scams is when you’re coasting in the lead by a comfortable margin and carrying a shell or banana. If you get hit by lightning or a POW block, which inevitably happens sooner rather than later, the Wii spins you out but drops your banana/shell right in front of you making it impossible to avoid when you restart. In other words, you spin out from a computer offensive and then immediately spin out again by being dropped right in front of your own damn weapon. Un-bloody-believable!
And when you do end up at the back of the pack, which will happen on the 150cc cups, don’t think for one moment that the Wii is gonna hand you any decent weapons. I’ve lost count of all the instances where I’ve been trailing the race and item boxes consistently offer me either a golden mushroom or green shell. No sign of the mega mushroom or blue shell when you need it, yet when you’re in the lead, the Wii can’t hand enough of them to the computer racers. It’s not uncommon to be hit by 2 blue shells in as many laps! And a special mention for the items and weapons that are rammed up your tailpipe by the Wii opponents when you’re leading a race that all miraculously hit you either seconds away from the finish line on the final lap whilst in pole position or at the most strategically placed moment to cause maximum disruption by spinning you off the track or plunging you into a ravine. Don’t expect the Wii controlled racers to receive anywhere near the same level of aggression or hits from other Wii opponents, races are srictly designed to be as unfair as possible for you and you alone.
Then there’s the measly combination of characters and karts. Unlike with Mario Kart DS, the Wii characters and karts are all split up into 3 groups with combinations only allowed within that group. This drastically reduces the number of permutations available with little variation between the drivers in a group.
It’s not just the limited driver roster or hideous rubber band AI though, the new courses are so littered with obstacles that the game has become less of a race that tests skill and accuracy and more of a pot luck affair where your chances of winning are largely determined by how quickly the Wii scams your position by ensuring your lap has as many strategically placed impediments as possible. No surprise that these same impediments are nowhere to be seen when the AI controlled karts are leading.
Here’s what to expect:
A nice simple course with a wide track and enough bends to get used to the kart/bike dynamics. There’s a shortcut to test your tricks off the ramp and a banked corner to boost ahead of the pack.
Moo Moo Meadows
Set in a grassy meadow complete with wandering cows and authentic cowbell sounds, this is a charming track with a number of good shortcuts and plenty of opportunity to overtake.
The nonsense starts with this course albeit in a manageable way. No obstacles but watch out for the cheating scamming Wii players to shoot a blue shell your way or knock you off when jumping across the mushrooms.
A varied track with an industrial setting, the main feature here is a bunch of multiple conveyor belts each going the opposite way. However, the bit I find more tricky is right at the end where you must drive over the speed pads to ensure the mud doesn’t slow you down. The shifting banks on either side don’t help!
An easy figure-of-eight track with a single Chain Chomp that can be avoided by either going offroad behind the chain to use the speed ramp or keeping to the outside lane of the track whilst going round the corner.
The first of the tracks where the obstacles really begin to grate, particularly at the end where the cars do their utmost best to get in your way whilst ignoring the Wii opponents. Keep a close eye on the mall escalators and use the ones that are going up.
DK Snowboard Cross
A fast track that, despite the name, isn’t at all slippery. In fact, the snow drifts are fiendishly placed to slow you down. Despite that, I like this course lots and the fabulous soundtrack spurs you on to victory whilst the annoying snowboarders at the end are not too hard to avoid.
Wario’s Gold Mine
Set in the old West, this pain-in-the-ass course has a couple of blind rollercoaster sections with sheer drops and a railroad complete with trucks to bump you off the track. A yee-haa soundtrack suits it perfectly but it’s a rubbish course overall which, inexplicably, is far too popular online.
One of my favourite tracks, this breezy seaside course has a couple of roundabouts but otherwise is a very pleasant drive with wide corners and plenty of cones to knock over. The accompanying summery tune suits it perfectly.
An exciting fast flowing course with an underwater section that explores the tranquility of the cape depths, the key here is to ensure you stay in the current as much as possible to get ahead. The soundtrack changes nicely when you dive into the water and then later emerge on ground.
Set in the windy treetops, this is another exciting course complete with two giant Wigglers. Another stellar soundtrack suits the autumnal themed track perfectly whilst the speed ramps ensure you’ll be kept busy tricking out.
Far too much going on here with subsiding ground, fire bombs, moveable platforms and a load of other bullshit to ensure you’ll rarely play this track other than to unlock the hidden content. Damn those bloody fire bombs!
Dry Dry Ruins
Similar to Desert Hills, Dry Dry Ruins has some tight corners and plenty of sand to plug through and slow you down. All things considered, it could have been a lot worse though and for a Special Cup track, it’s not at all as bad as it could have been.
A very exciting course set at night along a highway with oncoming traffic that must be avoided. There’s a toll booth that gives way to a very fast wide open section of the track with multiple speed pads that can be strung together to race ahead of the pack towards the finish line.
Along with Grumble Volcano, this is my least favourite track on Mario Kart Wii and a total cack-fest with simply too much going on. Visually impressive and inventive but forget any notion of actually racing, you’ll spend half of your time cursing the horrid track design and the other half desperately avoiding all the rubbish littering the course.
I used to hate this circuit and haven’t found many who disagree. However, it’s grown on me over the years simply because the one thing about Rainbow Road is that, despite the difficulty, it’s generally a fair track that punishes you for your own lack of skill. As with most other Rainbow Road’s, this one has a lovely uplifting soundtrack.
All of these courses have appeared in previous Mario Kart games and I generally prefer them far more than the new tracks.
GCN Peach Beach
Simple enough course with some rather tiresome duck type opponents who chase after you and chuck you into the air if you’re not (hehe!) quack enough. Watch out for the deep water and boost across the shallow bits for shortcuts.
DS Yoshi Falls
One of the most boring and shortest tracks in the Mario Kart world, this one is just a basic oval. Acceptable in the DS version but just cheap for the Wii.
SNES Ghost Valley 2
A creaky old house setting complete with cackling Boo ghost’s and a soundtrack straight from Scooby Doo, this course is just too short and the gloomy darkness with right angled corners make it somewhat annoying.
N64 Mario Raceway
This has everything a good track should have; long straights, some challenging corners, a few obstacles, but not so many as to put you off, and some devious shortcuts to annoy your mates with.
N64 Sherbet Land
A total bullshit ice track, this one is arranged in a star shape with slippery tight corners and a horrible cave section with marauding penguins. Good job it’s the first course in the cup as it’s one of those nasty ones where the Wii opponents waste no time in cheating.
GBA Shy Guy Beach
Never played the original but I already know I’d hate it, this is yet another rubbish track where the obstacles, in the form of scuttling crabs and bombs, are placed in front of you at every opportunity whilst neatly avoiding the Wii opponents.
DS Delfino Square
Everyone’s favourite, this is a nice lengthy course with long straights and a winding narrow alley. It almost makes up for having to play through the previous two awful tracks.
GCN Waluigi Stadium
If you’ve ever seen a monster truck show at a stadium, this is basically the same. Lots of ramps to trick off and a cheeky soundtrack to boot, the thing to watch out for here are the muddy areas that slow you to a crawl.
DS Desert Hills
One of two desert courses, they all tend to have the same characteristics; avoid the sand and take any shortcut with a speed boost where possible. This one has some very tight corners to bank that will test your drifting skills.
GBA Bowser Castle 3
A long course with fast straights, Thwomps and right angled corners. I’ve always liked the Bowser Castle tracks and this one’s no exception. The frantic doom-ridden music makes it seem quicker than it has any right to be.
N64 DK’s Jungle Parkway
This is a lush, tropical course complete with a steamboat, rickety old bridge and cave section. The final bend is surprisingly tricky to tackle but otherwise, this is a really nice track packed with plenty to see.
GCN Mario Circuit
Not the best Mario Circuit and the piranha plants on either side mean you have to try and stay in the middle of the track. The Monty Moles don’t help either because you can bet that the Wii will stick them right in your path.
SNES Mario Circuit 3
The early Mario Circuit’s are fairly boring and this one is like most that fall into the bucket; rubbish music, far too short and ample opportunity for the Wii opponents to kick your ass with cheap shots.
DS Peach Gardens
My favourite track, I love this on the DS and it’s even better here with a beautifully animated palace garden complete with maze and lurking Chain Chomps.
GCN DK Mountain
The other retro DK track here and just as lush but set on a mountain top. This one is trickier than Jungle Parkway comprising hairpin bends and much faster when barrelling down the hills but it has similar elements otherwise. And like all DK tracks, I enjoy it lots!
N64 Bowser’s Castle
A storming track which winds it way through both the inside and outside of Bowser’s Castle. This has mainly Thwomps as obstacles but never so much in a tiresome way that makes it seem unfair. Plenty of fast straights and an ingenious indoor section where the Thwomps sail over your head and try to crash down right in front of you.