Mario Kart - Second Impression
Okay, I've spent a ridiculous amount of time with Mario Kart over the past week: roughly 10 hours in single-player mode, and roughly 10-15 hours in multiplayer mode. Since I can't stop playing it, I'm going to write about it again. Great games are easy to learn, but have a lot of depth to explore. Mario Kart is a shining example of this. Casual gamers can have a lot of fun right away, and there are insane levels of skill to exploit for advanced players.
Multiplayer with this game is an absolute blast. I can recommend buying Mario Kart for multiplayer alone. Shilarva can vouch for this- we were yelling and screaming the entire time we played. Graphics stay smooth and playable even in four-player split screen mode. This is a game people are still going to be playing 10 years from now at parties, just like there are lots of people who keep their Super Nintendos and N64s around to play the earlier versions of Mario Kart.
Level design is excellent. Twelve courses are available right away, with four more to unlock. Level design is probably the single most important thing for a racing game like this, and it's the area Mario Kart nails best. Some courses are better than others, but even the weakest courses are very, very good.
The game is not without one major flaw: victory is often pretty random. Specifically, it's dependant on your luck with the Item Boxes. The course is littered with Item Boxes that contain special items such heat-seeking shells, banana peels, speed-boosting mushrooms, special items unique to the characters you've chosen, and so on. Some items are a lot more useful than others, and some are damn useless in certain situations. This gets frustrating at higher difficulty levels against the computer, especially in the 150cc class: you win need to run a nearly perfect race against an extremely difficult opponent and rely on the randomness of the Item Boxes to win. If you have bad luck with the Item Box
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