Mario Kart Series Retrospective – Part 2


Mario Kart Wii (Wii, 2008)

I played a lot of Mario Kart Wii when it first came out on the Wii in 2008. This was the first home console version of Mario Kart in 5 years and it really delivered on every level. From the online play and tournaments to the tracks to the addition of bikes, this game really pulled everything together in one nice package.

The big addition here was the emphasis on doing tricks to gain mini-turbos which hadn’t been seen before. This complemented the drifting well and made Mario Kart Wii more strategic than the rest. There are plenty of jumps to do tricks off of and if you miss one, it could be the difference between winning and losing.

This game was notable for having many different ways of controlling your character due to the diversity of Wii controllers available. You were able to use a Gamecube controller (on Wii’s that supported it), the Wiimote, Wiimote and Nunchuck, Wii Classic Controller, or the Wii Wheel. I don’t know if there’s any other game in history that could be controlled that many different ways.

Mario Kart Wii

Game Modes

Mario Kart Wii introduced new ways to play that have made the series what it is today. They finally brought in true online multiplayer with support for up to 12 players in a single race. This was huge and I personally spent many nights playing this game in the years after it released. It added a level of competition that you never had in your living room before. 

In addition to tournament mode, players could now race against ghosts from players around the world. These were actual game records that would allow you to see just how good of a racer you actually are.

Battle Mode remained relatively the same from the DS version, but added Coin Runners instead of Shine Runners with players grabbing coins rather than sprites.

  • Grand Prix (1 Player)
  • Time Trial (1 Player)
  • Vs. (1-4 Players, Up to 12 Online)
  • Battle (1-4 Players, Up to 12 Online)
  • Ghost Race (1 Player, Online)
  • Tournament (1 Player, Online)


There are 24 characters included in the game making up the biggest character roster in the series at the time. There are also 2 versions of your Mii that you can use.

Mario Kart Wii

Standard Characters
Baby Mario(Small)
Koopa Troopa(Small)
Baby Peach(Small)
Donkey Kong(Large)
Unlockable Characters
Dry Bones(Small)
Baby Daisy(Small)
Baby Luigi(Small)
Diddy Kong(Medium)
Bowser Jr.(Medium)
Mii – outfit A(Medium)
Rosalina – with Luma(Large)
King Boo(Large)
Dry Bowser(Large)
Funky Kong(Large)


Mario Kart Wii
Credit: Ars Technica
Mushroom CupFlower Cup Star CupSpecial Cup
Luigi CircuitMario CircuitDaisy CircuitDry Dry Ruins
Moo Moo MeadowsCoconut MallKoopa CapeMoonview Highway
Mushroom GorgeDK SummitMaple TreewayBowser’s Castle
Toad’s FactoryWario’s Gold MineGrumble VolcanoRainbow Road
Shell CupBanana CupLeaf CupLightning Cup
GCN Peach BeachN64 Sherbet LandDS Desert HillsSNES Mario Circuit 3
DS Yoshi FallsGBA Shy Guy BeachGBA Bowser Castle 3DS Peach Gardens
SNES Ghost Valley 2DS Delfino SquareN64 DK’s Jungle ParkwayGCN DK Mountain
N64 Mario RacewayGCN Waluigi StadiumGCN Mario CircuitN64 Bowser’s Castle

Battle Stages

There are two ways to play Battle (Balloon Battle and Coin Runners), and there are 10 stages to battle on. 5 are new stages, and the other 5 are retro stages.

Wii Stages

Retro Stages

Block PlazaSNES Battle Course 4
Delfino PierGBA Battle Course 3
Funky StadiumN64 Skyscraper
Chain Chomp WheelGCN Cookie Land
Thwomp DesertDS Twilight House

For the first time in the series, Mario Kart Wii included bikes in addition to karts. The addition of bikes added a whole new element to the game. They became my go-to vehicle to use when playing as I enjoyed the extra maneuverability.

Mario Kart Wii


Three new items make their debut in Mario Kart Wii. The Mega Mushroom allows you to squash other racers as you become a mega size version of your characters. The Pow Block spins out every racer ahead of your racer and causes them to drop their items. The Thunder Cloud makes you drive faster until it eventually shrinks you as the lightning strikes. To avoid this, you can transfer it to someone else by bumping into them.

Mario Kart Wii
Credit: GameFAQs
Triple Mushrooms
Golden Mushroom
Mega Mushroom (New)
Item Box
Fake Item Box
Triple Bananas
Green Shell
Triple Green Shells
Red Shell
Triple Red Shells
Spiny Shell
Thunder Cloud (New)
Bullet Bill
POW Block (New)


I loved Mario Kart Wii. I still consider it the best game in the series despite the fact that it’s no longer playable online due to Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection shutting down in 2014.

On to the latest handheld Mario Kart title, Mario Kart 7!