A year after its first unveiling and 16 years since it first hit our TV screens, Mario with his go-karting escapades is back, but has it been worth the wait? We don our racing gloves to find out.



If you're a fan of Mario Kart, you're going to feel right at home with Mario Kart for the Wii. The concept is the same, i.e., you drive Mario and his mates around a series of racecourses avoiding banana skins and turtle shells in your quest to become crowned the best driver in town.

It's not a direct port of the previous iterations and new to the mix are a number of new courses (16 in total) and features such as getting inked by a squid so you can't see what you are doing. However, the most notable of which is the addition of a bit of plastic in the box called the Wii Wheel.

The Wii Wheel, which is really just a glorified piece of plastic that you plonk the Wii Remote into, is designed to make it easier to visualise yourself driving and on the whole in our brief First Look play it seems to work.

All the Wii Controls on the front of the controller are easily accessible as before and the B button on the back gets a trigger cover, which makes it easier to use when in the landscape mode.

In-game and the wheel gives you a greater sensation that you are driving a car and we found that you don't have to be as forceful with your movements to get a reaction on screen.

The only drawback is that you do look a bit of an idiot using it, but then anyone who has fished in Zelda knows how that feels anyway.

Of course the Wii Wheel isn't a requirement and you can race against up to four other players, either on a course or just as the original, in battle mode popping balloons with standard controllers sans the Wii Wheel. In fact you can even use a GabeCube controller if you've still got one of those kicking around.

So that's how you control it, what about the gameplay? Well it's business as usual with 32 courses to race around broken down into a number of different Cups like the Mushroom cup. Win the first batch of cups and you unlock more courses, more characters and more features.

Beyond the courses there are the karts and now bikes to choose and race. Again this is broken down into three categories to ease new gamers in. Mario Karters get 50cc, 100cc and 150cc vehicles and within these classes you get different cars and bike that offer different handling characteristics.

When racing the bikes are more agile with the ability to perform wheelies and get speed boosts by jerking the Wii Wheel back quickly, however the karts are more stable when it comes to taking knocks from your competitors.

Of course the Wii has always been about multiplayer and here you can opt to play on the same screen with up to four players or up to 11 via Nintendo WFC over the Internet. We weren't however able to test playing online in our First Look at the Nintendo Wii house in London.

In addition to all this a new Wii Channel, the Mario Kart Channel, is also included offering you the chance to see how you perform against against others with data compiled from races completed online as well as also access and share Ghost Data. However, like the online racing mode we weren't however able to test playing online in our First Look at the Nintendo Wii house in London.

First Impressions

If you were a fan of Mario Kart on the SNES or GameCube, then this is more of the same, but a chance to play it on the Wii with the added bonus of the Wii Wheel and the motion sensor shenanigans that go with it.



It's a classic game that Nintendo wisely hasn't really messed with meaning the winning formula is still there.

A must for the console when it comes out on the 11 April? Judging from our first glimpse, you bet.