Mario Kart Wii random frustrations

13th May 2008 – 6.54 am

Scott 'VG Cats' Ramsoomair, he who draws the lovely Aeris, is not terribly impressed with the single player Mario Kart Wii game either. It seems that the focus on randomness with power-ups over player skill is frustrating many people, and Scott links to a comic of an artist's impression of the next version of Mario Kart.

He makes an interesting point about how the full range of power-ups is given to the computer opponents and that this is where the game falters. It's possible that if the computer players only had access to passive items like bananas, personal items like the power star or Bullet Bill, or non-homing shells, and restricted either partially of completely from having items that affect the whole field then the balance of gameplay in the single play game may well tilt back in favour of player skill.

I doubt that this would unbalance the game particularly. Certain computer opponents need to place in certain positions over the course of the grand prix to force a player to finish in the top positions to win, otherwise finishing fourth in each race against a truly random field of eleven opponents could win first place overall. Seeing how the computer opponents manage this in the currently random field makes me suspect that there is code that ensures this happens regardless of the power-ups flying around the course.

It's possible that removing certain power-ups from the available pool to be used against a player may make the game less varied. Multi-player games can use every item, where having a human behind the lightning bolt or blue shell makes a significant difference. However, the single player game can only be a racing game at heart, for what real joy can be taken from hitting a sprite with a red Koopa shell? It seems to me that the joy comes not from the use of shell itself but from gaining a position through the use of the shell. Focus on the racing and the game is fun.

It's probably hoping for too much, or maybe isn't even possible, but perhaps Nintendo will listen to the feedback and find a way to patch the single-player game.

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