Mario Kart Wii is a racing game developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development and published by Nintendo for the Wii console. It is the sixth installment in the Mario Kart series (excluding the two arcade games) and the second Mario Kart title to use the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The game was released worldwide throughout April 2008, but one year later in South Korea. Every copy of the game is packaged with the Wii Wheel accessory, which is designed to house the Wii Remote to allow more intuitive and conventional steering.
Changes from its predecessor, Mario Kart DS, include motorbikes and support for up to twelve racers online. Like other games in the Mario Kart series, it involves various characters from several Mario games racing each other on tracks themed from locations in the Mario series. Support for the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection allows racing against other players from around the world, and online competitions and results are available by installing the Mario Kart Channel to the Wii Menu.
Mario Kart Wii was first shown at E3 2007. It has been positively received by critics; while not revolutionary, the online capability and the large number of tracks, characters and karts has been praised. The game had a commercially successful launch in every region, and sold over a million copies in both Japan and the United States in less than a month.
In Mario Kart Wii, players choose a character from a roster consisting of up to 24 characters and from 36 vehicles, separated into three different weight classes. A character's weight decides the available types of karts and motorbikes, and their performance on the tracks. Each vehicle has seven different parameters for characteristics: speed, weight, acceleration, handling, drift, off-road, and mini-turbo. Mario Kart Wii includes 32 different tracks, including 16 new tracks, four tracks from Mario Kart 64, four from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, four from Mario Kart DS, and two each from Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart: Super Circuit, and up to twelve characters can participate in a race. Players obtain items by driving through item boxes, which can be used for either defense, offense, or for powering up the engine. New items from Mario platform games are introduced, including the "Mega Mushroom" from New Super Mario Bros., which allows the character to grow enormous in size and flatten opposing characters, and the "POW BLOCK" from Mario Bros., which allows the character to send a shockwave to all the characters in front of them, spinning them out of control and causing them to drop any items they may be carrying. One additional item new to the series is the Lightning Cloud, which raises the user's top speed briefly, but shrinks the user if it is not passed on to an opponent by colliding with them. features 24 selectable characters, (26 counting the two outfits available for the Mii, the digital avatar created by Nintendo) more than any of its predecessors. Twelve characters are available from the beginning; the other twelve and the two Mii variants become available after finishing certain elements of the game. The cast of characters includes 19 returning characters from the series and six newcomers; Baby Peach, Funky Kong, user-created Mii's, Rosalina, Dry Bowser, and Baby Daisy, a new character in the Mario series. There are eight characters of each weight class. The Mii's weight class depends on its height and weight, and its creator's favorite color affects the color scheme of its clothing, while the gender affects the color scheme of their vehicles.
The game is packaged with a Wii Wheel, a peripheral that acts as the primary control scheme. Because the Wii Wheel only provides a simulation of a steering wheel and offers no actual functionality, players can forgo the accessory while using only the Remote in a similar manner. There are also methods that can be used without the Wii Wheel, such as the Wii Remote with Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, or the Nintendo GameCube controller. The ability to "snake" in previous Mario Kart games, which creates speed boosts by repeatedly drifting, has been greatly reduced in favor of a new speed boost system based on how long the player actually drifts and the angle at which they drift. While bikes can perform wheelies for a speed boost, they have a limited turning ability for the duration of a wheelie. Karts cannot do wheelies, but can get longer boosts on drifting. Also featured is the ability to "slipstream". Additionally, a new feature called "Tricks" or "Stunts" are now a part of gameplay. Shaking the Wii Wheel will cause the character to perform stunts in mid-air, allowing the player to obtain a small speed boost upon landing.
Unlike previous installments, "Grand Prix" is only available in single-player mode. The player races in a series of Grand Prix cups against eleven computer-controlled competitors. Each cup consists of four races, and may be raced at 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, or an unlockable Mirror Mode that can be won by winning first place in the regular 150cc cups. At the end of the cup, players are awarded a trophy based on their finishing position and a rating based upon how well they raced. Mirror Mode from Mario Kart 64, Double Dash, and DS becomes available by completing certain elements of the game, and flips the tracks around so that right becomes left and left becomes right.
In "Time Trial", players try to finish a course as quickly as possible. Like in previous games, the fastest time will be saved as a ghost, a copy of the player's performance which can be raced against. "Versus Mode" entails one to four local players racing head-to-head in a single race on any course either with or without artificial intelligence (AI) players.
The game also features "Battle Mode", consisting of "Balloon Battle" and "Coin Runners". Players are split into two teams randomly, and start on one of the ten battle courses. In Balloon Battle, each player has three balloons attached to their vehicle. Every time a player is hit by an opposing player's weapon, a balloon is lost, and the score for each team is altered accordingly. If players lose all their balloons, they are given three new balloons and the team loses a point. After the three minute time limit, the team that popped the most balloons wins. In Coin Runners, coins are scattered over the battle course. When players drive over a coin they will pick it up, but being hit by an opposing player's weapon causes them to drop coins; the amount of coins lost differs based on which weapon they were struck by. The team in possession of most coins when the three minute time limit is reached wins.
Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Mario Kart Wii allows players to race against each other through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which features online racing and battle modes, supporting up to twelve simultaneous competitors. Two players per Wii console can connect to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There are three options: "Worldwide", "Regional" (called "Continental" in European versions), and "Friends." The first two options match the player against those of a similar rank, either from around the world or his surrounding geographical region, and the third option lets him race against listed friends and uses the friend code system. The courses are decided by a voting system where the course is randomly selected from the courses voted for by the players. When playing online for the first time players are given a skill rating of 5000 points and based on wins and losses, this increases or decreases to rank the player's skill level. The game features online text chat between players where users are able to select from a set of predetermined phrases when playing with friends.
The game has the option of installing the "Mario Kart Channel" that requires, depending on region and content, between 74 and 86 blocks to the Wii Menu, which presents the current regional and worldwide rankings, and the option of sending or downloading saved time trials (ghosts) using WiiConnect24. Mario Kart Channel also offers worldwide tournaments from Nintendo. The channel enables users to check if any members of their Friend roster are currently online, and to participate in a race or battle with them.