15 Years Later, Mario Kart Wii Remains an Absolute Blast

Enough with the blue shells already!

Mario Kart Wii
Mario Kart Wii

The Wii remains one of the most successful video game consoles of all time, so it only made sense that a Mario Kart game for it would end up being the most successful installment in the franchise during its release. Of course, that title has since been taken by Mario Kart 8, but for a lot of people, Mario Kart Wii was their introduction to the franchise, and what a terrific introduction.

Mario Kart Wii is pretty much the prime example of everything a Mario Kart game should be — hectic, overstuffed, random, chaotic, and most of all, absolute fun. If there’s any reason to still keep your Wii plugged in, it’s this game.

Of course, when talking about Mario Kart Wii, the first thing that comes to people’s minds are the motion controls. For good reason, too — the ways this game implemented motion controls were crazy good. One of my favorite features was how your character could perform a trick if you shook your Wiimote right before you jump off a ramp. It’s the perfect bit of added strategy, and it’s always just cool to see.

If you were having difficulty turning the Wiimote left and right, there was a plastic wheel that had a slot you could insert the Wiimote in. Sure, adults probably shrugged this off as just a piece of plastic, but for a kid, the Wii Wheel was the coolest thing ever. Not to mention, it made driving feel terrific. Using the Wii Wheel made driving your kart or bike feel much more intuitive than just using the Wiimote alone.

If you weren’t a fan of the motion controls, however, Mario Kart Wii had options and plenty of them. You could play with the Wiimote and Nunchuk, the Wii Classic Controller or Controller Pro, or even the GameCube controller. Not using the Wiimote meant having to press the D-pad to perform tricks, which just wasn’t as fun or even as convenient. The Wiimote and Nunchuk were, in my opinion, the best way to play this game.

Whichever your preference for controls, you were bound to get plenty of enjoyment from this game, because Mario Kart Wii had so much (and I mean so much) going for it. Bikes were the big new addition, one that wasn’t in Mario Kart 7 but made its way back to the franchise with Mario Kart 8. For a lot of people, the thing they’re most thankful for with Mario Kart Wii were the bikes, because they really brought the franchise to another level.

It’s all a matter of preference, of course, but bike users did so because they found bikes so much better to use. Sure, they were harder to master, but the drifting felt cleaner and more controlled, and they just looked cooler to drive on the tracks.

Speaking of tracks, Mario Kart Wii has, by far, the best base track selection in the entire franchise.

Moo Moo Meadows is both calming and exciting. Mushroom Gorge feels like driving through a theme park. Moonview Highway is like Toad’s Turnpike from Mario Kart 64 only so much better. Koopa Cape has you navigating through rivers and underwater tunnels and is probably a big reason why bodies of water have become such a staple in Mario Kart games since the Wii title.

What used to be something meant to be avoided is now something the games often encourage you to use to your advantage.

And do I even have to say anything about Coconut Mall? It’s one of the franchise’s most iconic tracks. The music itself is enough to get any fan nostalgic and pumped up. But more than the music, Coconut Mall is just a joy of a track, an easy go-to whenever playing a quick solo or multiplayer game. It’s no wonder this track would reappear in Mario Kart 7, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and even the mobile game Mario Kart Tour.

At this point, the Mario Kart franchise might be Nintendo’s most important franchise, or at least their most reliable money maker. That’s largely thanks to Mario Kart DS and Wii — these two titles brought the racing game franchise to a whole new tier.

Mario Kart games have always sold well, but before the DS and Wii, its biggest title was Mario Kart 64, which sold more than 9 million copies. Mario Kart DS sold more than 23 million copies. Mario Kart Wii sold more than 37 million. Those were both gigantic leaps and probably what pushed Nintendo to make a mobile Mario Kart when they’re usually incredibly adamant about keeping their games to their consoles and their consoles alone.

Some people think Mario Kart Wii is better than Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. I’m inclined to agree, although really, I think both are fantastic multiplayer experiences. However, whichever one you think is best, there’s a great chance Mario Kart Wii gave you some of your favorite video game memories. Luckily for everyone, the game remains an absolute blast.

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