Published on June 8th, 2008 | by simeon0
Confessions of a Mario Kart WII Addict
I knew I had played too much Nintendo’s MarioKart for Wii, when I quietly mumbled, “Three….two….” as I revved the van, waiting for the last of my vanpoolers to board.
Not since Atari’s Pole Position have I been this obsessed with placing first in a race. Yes, there have been many racing games since, but I’m the gamer who doesn’t care so much about how slick my car looks, how fast it goes or how well it handles, but how entertaining the characters I get to choose from are. In that regard, MarioKart does not disappoint.
Of course, after a few cup races, my husband, (Gareth Von Kallenbach of Skeweda nd Reviewed) found Baby Peach’s high-pitch squealing a little grating, but I still found it cute. There’s a bit of a learning curve in handling and navigating the twists and turns for novice Wii-ers like me. After competing against Gareth in the Mushroom Cup, placing last in each race because of numerous stops and starts or falling off the racetrack, I fought the urge to toss the control on the floor in frustration. “This just perpetuates the stereotype about Asian women drivers,” I fumed, as Gareth laughed as gleefully as his Yoshi character.
I didn’t pick the steering wheel control up again for a few weeks, just rolling my eyes whenever Gareth shared news of a new cup, a new character or a new vehicle he unlocked. Apparently, Mario Kart has a roster of up to 24 characters with karts and motorcycles separated into three weight classes. With 32 different tracks, and the ability to play against other players online, the variety keeps this game interesting for a long time.
Gareth coaxed me into playing again, this time in battle mode as we raced to collect coins or pop each others balloons. Again, I sucked and I told him I wouldn’t play again. I’ve learned I have this innate gift of missing the power cubes that give me different abilities or weapons like a mushroom that enlarges my character to run over my enemies or a turtle or three to shoot at my opponents. The power cube can be right in front of me and I always manage to skid right by.
But I soon learned that I race better when Gareth isn’t around laughing at me. After a week of playing in the Grand Prix mode, I earned not only a blister on my thumb but several 1st place trophies and new racetracks. I’ve graduated from Baby Peach’s innocent squeaks to Rosalina’s more self-assured giggles. There’s still more to learn and attempt because of the variety of modes like Versus and Time Trial. Your fastest time establishes a “ghost” that you can race again, but you also have the option of racing against “staff ghosts” which, if you beat the experts, opens up new vehicles and characters.
As I shifted the van into gear and pulled out of the parking lot, I let out a soft “One! …Whee!” One of the riders heard me and asked, “Mario Kart?”
I gave her an embarrassed grin and she squealed, “I have it, too! Wanna race some time?” The game allows players to connect via Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection and play against other racers regionally, worldwide or in a private room with friends with whom they’ve exchanged Friend ID numbers.
“Sure! I’m not that good, though! However, I’m better now that I discovered the brake is the button on the bottom of the control,” I replied. I glanced over and saw her frown in confusion.
“There’s a brake?”