Angry Robot

Mario Kart Wii is Dead to Me

Hell hath frozen over. Fenrir has swallowed Odin whole. The twilight of the gods is nigh. I hate Mario Kart Wii. Yesterday I had my first chance to experience a game I had been waiting for since the Wii was released. No one could be more shocked by my reaction than me, but I can’t deny how this game let me down and how I have no desire to ever play it again.

I am a huge fan of the Mario Kart games, I have been since the SNES version. I was addicted back then, must have played that game for four years straight. I would eat generic lucky charms and race around for hours trying to beat my best times and earn the cups over and over again. I never had a N64 so I had no connection with that version, but from all the people I know who love the game that was the version that they fell in love with. Then came Double Dash and I was smitten again. Racing with my friends was key to my happiness. We would unlock all maps and mirror mode and play the Grand Prix Championship (all 16 races) like mad fiends until we thought we were too good and then erase all the data and start over again. We loved it.

That is the heart of my love of Mario Kart, playing with my friends. There have always been three main game types in the Kart: Grand Prix, where characters, vehicles, and races are unlocked; Versus, where you can play against just your friends up to four players; and Battle, with different types of games like straight on bust balloons or race to collect this or that. Grand Prix has been and will always be my main squeeze when it comes to Mario Kart. My roommate and I would unlock all the characters together and were satisfied, but not enormously pleased, when all you got at the end of Double Dash was the golden super car. We expected great things from the next incarnation of Mario Kart. With Smash Bros. Brawl having so many characters and secrets we were sure that Mario Kart would exceed all expectations.

The 32 tracks, half of which are revamped versions of older titles, are spectacular. Remakes aside, lots of tracks just adds awesome. There are loads of characters ready at the get go – including my beloved Toad. There are great cars available, and the addition of bikes to the mix is both welcomed and easy to adapt to. The game looks exactly like Double Dash, with a few added items thrown in and all the animations have been slightly tweaked, but for the most part it’s the same thing. That’s fine though, as I’ve stressed before you don’t play a Wii game for graphics.

So, what’s my big problem with Mario Kart Wii? There is no co-op Grand Prix mode. The main reason for my Mario Kart love affair through the ages has been taken out of this version. You can race your friends against the computer in Solo mode, which is just basic racing, or Team mode, which is Red vs. Blue points style, but you don’t unlock anything in either of those modes. You can only unlock tracks, characters, and cars in single player Grand Prix mode. I was shocked. I was hurt. I was appalled.

I had gone over to my friend’s house to help him unlock the rest of the game and get a early review in. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to come back to the Robot and write all about how much fun I had and how thrilled I was with a sure-fire Wii masterpiece. I got there and after making a new Mii we started up the game on my License, which is the gamercard (as it were) for Mario Kart Wii. Your license has all your player history and stats, so when you go online you can be ranked with like players and you can have access to the tracks and cars that you’ve unlocked. We didn’t get to try out the online stuff, but I don’t play the Wii for online anyway.

We soon found, however, that we couldn’t Grand Prix together. We could race in three ways: random tracks, in order, and player chooses. You can change the class, CPU ability, track order, items (balanced, aggressive, strategic, or none), and change the number of tracks per race. All good things, right? But I was gutted. They had cut the heart out of my reason for playing Mario Kart. Why did I want to unlock everything solo and then play against my friends for, what, bragging rights? I don’t play Mario Kart for bragging rights, I play it like I play co-op campaign Halo. I play it to be a brother in racing arms with my roommate so that by then end in the final showdown between us and the CPU, one of us has to play kamikaze-style with the toughest characters simply to take them out of the race while the other person races for victory. I like playing that way, I like the adventure of unlocking the game with a buddy. Sure, we aren’t on the same team, but we play together in Grand Prix, that was the best part.

Now I’m not going to debate the whole unlockables thing here, that is another discussion entirely. We’ve touched on that in the past few Robot Sounds. Toku and D are on one side of the fence and I am on the other. There is no debate on the validity of having unlockables in multiplayer games like Mario Kart for me right now. The fact is, one of the main reasons I play Mario Kart is to unlock characters by getting the highest rank and trophy on each track. That is just how I play the game and I adore it. Like I said, it gives me that sense of co-op campaign of other games. That part of the game has been removed, in essence Mario Kart has been lobotomized. Sure, there are tons of racing variations to choose from, but without that push it to the limit sensibility of multiplayer Grand Prix I just don’t want to play the game.

Mario Kart Wii has been getting the reviews I would have agreed with before yesterday with 8s, 9s, and super high percentages across the board. Major attention is being lavished on the online addition to the game, which is as much praise for the game itself as it is ragged hope for future online multiplayer functionality for the Wii in general.

Toku said I was being biased because not everyone plays Mario Kart like me, and that is very true. I am biased, but I am also a diehard frelling Mario Kart fan. This is like Zelda and Halo for me, this is one of those games that I love for life and any sequel or version I am going to play and pretty much love because the formula for enjoyment is so simple. But Nintendo has gone and fracked it up so much for me with the Wii version. Yes, I am biased. Yes, not everyone plays the game like I do. But for those who do, and I do know more than one who does, they will be gutted like I was and the game with be empty in their hands. With no Grand Prix multiplayer to unlock things together, the game is hollow and boring.

So there it is, I don’t want to play this game again. I know it’s a “must have Wii title” and sure, go and get it if you want. I’m sure my roommate will and he’ll want me to play with him and I know I’ll play a few rounds with him, but I won’t be filled with delight. Mario Kart Wii for me was a sad realization, of my own gamer mortality so to speak. It made me sad. Mario Kart Wii made me sad.

And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

22 comments on "Mario Kart Wii is Dead to Me"

  1. Ry-Tron says:

    Have yet to try it, but I got the same feeling from SSB Brawl. Tried it 3 times now, and I still haven’t gotten that “zomg!” feeling that I got all the time with Melee, even when using a GC controller. I dunno, maybe I’m all smashed out? I thought it’d be the big reason to finally get a Wii, but alas, nope. As for Mario Kart, I can’t imagine playing it anywhere but on the street car now, thanks to MK:DS.

  2. Nadine says:

    I do enjoy the handheld versions, and if you are a solo player then the Wii game is golden, I’m just so not a solo player when it comes to the Kart.

    I totally played with the gamecube controller as well for both Brawl and Kart, I could care less about the Wii Wheel, even though it’s really good. I just don’t go for the motion controller because I flail about so much when racing anyway. Still…no “zomg!” is right.

    As for karted out, I mean maybe? Maybe I’ve just outgrown it…I don’t know. I hate this constant wait for the Wii to be be this key to some hidden happiness the big boy consoles cannot provide. Zelda was great and everything, but even then I haven’t played it since that first time. Wii Sports is fun but I’ve stopped playing that as well. I guess Force Unleashed lightsaber battling is my last hope for some super fun Wii times…but who knows.

  3. Nick says:

    I totally agree with you on this one. I played it for the first time today and I’m gutted. Me and my brother played through every track in the game and when nothing unlocked we just groaned at the TV. What an over-sight! It would have been so easy for them to just include the mode! I’m going to see if I can take my copy back tomorrow…

  4. Kiwi says:

    There are so few games that my wife and I can play together but MK:DD was REALLY one of them. We were so excited to play another MK game together and then this. I had to get online to make sure I wasn’t a moron and just missing something obvious. Nintendo has been doing a really good job of pissing me off recently.

  5. bob says:

    You haven’t played this online yet? Let me tell you, your local gripes DO have some merit, but once you experience the amazing job the big N did with online (an area that they have not impressed me in until yesterday with Kart) all you woes will quickly be forgotten.

    The online is truly groundbreaking for Nintendo, I am playing people worldwide and there are zero problems, no lag, just 100% crazy racing. Actually the most fun Ive ever had in a racing game online.

    Try online and get back to me….

  6. Cenyu says:

    I’d also like to point out that ‘unlocking’ items in this version of the game has several methods.

    Some items can be unlocked 2 or even 3 different ways. All characters and vehicles have a pre-set “games played” score that, once reached, unlocks said character, kart, bike, etc…

    Your counterargument is going to be, “But I don’t wanna be handed the locked items, I wanna earn ‘em…” K… Fair point, but it does not make my point moot.

    Play how you like, get friends together and constantly replay the courses you like for better and better scores… and while you’re doing that unlock items through the “games played” statistic.


  7. Nadine says:

    Cenyu, I did not know about that so that is interesting. But my big thing here is not the playing of the games after they’ve been unlocked. My current MK partner is pretty much going to unlock it all and then we’ll play, I’m just upset at the absence of the tried and true way we had done it before. That was all I was trying to say…I was just so upset I couldn’t look at the thing for days…still can’t, but I will play it with my roommate for sure, can’t bawl him like that and not, I just wish it had been different. But thank you for telling me about the other methods!

  8. Kevin says:

    I totally agree as well. When I first found out that there was no two player grand prix mode, I thought there was just some misinformation out there. Now it’s confirmed. I like many others would play through this mode with my friends, working to unlock all of the goodies. Not any more. It’s kind of ironic since the Wii is supposed to be all about playing with your friends.

  9. Shaun Opp says:

    I totally agree. My girlfriend and I loved to play Double Dash together to open up new characters etc. and were really excited to play the Wii version…until finding the 2 player coop gone. This omission was like a punch in the gut, we were both in disbelief. The other thing that sucks is that it only keeps track of one set of license stats. What a boneheaded move Nintendo.

  10. Aussy & Kelsey says:

    My husband and I are die-hard Mario Kart Players. Together we unlocked and “beat the system” over and over again.
    We were soooooo looking forward, counting the days for the release of the wii game. What a sad fact: we can’t unlock anything together any more.
    Now, one of us has to sit for hours, watching the other battle all alone. Once unlocked, we get to play together, try out the new stuff, but where’s our reward??? We are left empty and no mutual victory, no bonding accomplishments. Stale to us and leaving us wanting.
    The online and wi-fi options are great. We can race the rest of the family, no matter where they are. But my husband and I – we can just sit and wring our thumbs in support of the one who actually gets to battle the grand-prix.

    We are VERY disappointed and do not recommend this game to any of our friends, because we were left hanging!

    Nintendo’s “official” Premiere Edition Game Guide Book, which we shelled over $20.00 out for, before we bought the game, assured us on page 4, we could play the Grand-Prix with up to 3 friends.
    We feel cheated and jibbed!

  11. Disappointed Karter says:

    You are RIGHT on! I was so angry I googled “Mario Kart Wii is only single player in Grand Prix mode!?”. The VS. mode is a joke…always picking your next track instead of doing all four or sixteen at once and never unlocking anything when you win.

    This game is NOT for loyal Nintendo fans. It’s for people obsessed with playing against others online.

    I’ve played it for an hour and its going on ebay before word gets out that this game is a joke.

  12. Chuck Norris says:

    I couldn’t agree with u more

  13. kurosaki says:

    Completely agree with you.
    Mario Kart with no 2players grand prix mode?
    what are they thinking?
    im sorry, but I rather have 2 players coop than online compatibility in this kind of game.

  14. James says:

    You are spot on about multiplayer Grand Prix being about the most fun MK experience. Very disappointing that it’s not found here in the Wii version. In fact, I stumbled upon your blog trying to figure out if it WAS possible to unlock content in multiplayer (I googled “mario kart wii unlock multiplayer” and your site was the 3rd hit).

  15. kevin says:

    you are totally right it sucks without grand prix co-op and my MK buddy and I are so severely disappointed that we’re going back to Double Dash. Do you think if enough people moan and groan about this they might fix it with a download or update of some kind?

  16. Nadine says:

    God I wish. My hope is that they’ll release a Double Dash sequel for the Wii that will include the co-op…otherwise…ugh, a bleak future indeed…

  17. Nick says:

    The lack of co-op for Grand Prix mode is ridiculous. And I hate in Battle how you can’t play a 4 player only battle. Why does the computer ALWAYS have to play with you on “teams”. Terrible.

    But…that said, I’m not a hater. I’m enjoying it quite a bit.

  18. JB says:

    Ok The guys at Nintendo aren’t silly ~ they would never leave out co-op Grand Prix. It’s just unfortunate that the settings aren’t as obvious this time.

    To select it ~ simply choose Vs. Mode (as opposed to Battle). And in the SOLO or TEAM selection screen you should see the ‘Rules’ selection on the top right-hand corner. Point to that and select it.

    Inside the ‘Rules’ option ~ go to COURSE SELECTION and instead of the ‘Choose’ option, select the ‘In Order’ one… this will set the game to Co-op Grand Prix Mode!!!

    Not sure what you mean about unlocking secrets ~ but there’s heaps of new characters, karts and tracks to unlock… Online Battle mode is wicked! So incredibly addictive…

    Hope that helps guys!

  19. Spencer says:

    I totally agree. The best games out there are those with co-op like halo. At first i thought that maybe u hvae to unlcok co op but then i found out u cant. I am disappointed that the game thats supposed to get advanced, got worse. I would not recommend buying this game unless you like beating things on your own. Now i have to watch my sister beat the game. Nintendo made a really bad choice this time.

  20. izzy Kagan says:

    OMG i knowww. this is so annoying. There is literally no point in playing except for fun with 2 or more ppl. i was playing with my sister and every time i won i wouldn’t get anything. To me it’s not even fun anymore.

  21. evil julius says:

    You are 100% correct. I have been stupidly playing the thing with a buddy for a billion hours, wondering why nothing was unlocking. Although I’m sure it’s just as fun, I never like to play alone….this is just absurrrrddddddddd.

    To JB’s comment – you are totally correct, changing up the rules section does make a similar Grand Prix experience BUT you cannot unlock anything 🙁

  22. Johny says:

    I think Cenyu is not tellin the truth. I can’t find any evidence of there being a different way to unlock stuff. Playing a game solo for 90 hours turns you a very lonely closet case person to unlock shit to play the game. Item’s are not randomly picked but picked by your position, retarded why even race just get the items and let them do it for you, after 4 or 5 attempts at the 30 minute prix you are given a win by items, 90 hours of a bad game.

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