Nintendo Mario Kart Wii With Wheel

Mario DS

Mario Kart Wii

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As with all Mario games, there are plenty of imaginative enemies, like those pesky moles, the giant barking ball thingy, bats, hedgehogs, walking bombs and of course the obligatory Miyamoto penguins. But there's more: In the desert level you have to watch out not to crash into an old steam train (Number 64, no less) and in Toad's Highway level, there are even big trucks and cars driving around with you. It's this attention to detail and originality that makes Nintendo games such a delight. The track design is pretty good, too. There are a total of 16 (plus four battle arenas) with plenty of shortcuts (tunnels) and branching roads. Unfortunately, one of my favorite tracks from the SNES version, Rainbow Road, got messed up. Nintendo decided to fence the road in, which means you can't fall off any more--but you also can't push off your enemies...

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The music sounds surprisingly well, with some memorable tunes, cool stereo effects and a great, booming bass in the ghost house and bowser levels. The sound effects are of equally high quality. The karts sound like they should and all characters talk quite a bit. I especially like Wario's spiteful laughter when one of his traps work.

The game setup and feel is very much like its predecessor, only this time everything looks a whole lot better, with tracks going up and down hills and through tunnels and buildings. You can race in a Grand Prix against seven other (computer) drivers, try to beat your best times in "Time Trials," or take part in a vicious multi-player battle mode. Like in SNES Mario Kart, there are three different kart classes; 50cc, 100cc and 150cc. The higher, the faster (but the same holds true for your adversaries as well). You also get to choose from eight Miyamoto characters with slightly different attributes: Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, Yoshi, Wario, Donkey Kong and Bowser. The heavier drivers slow down more when they drive on grass or mud, whereas the lighter guys can get knocked out easier.