We kart down to Nintendo's Bay Area HQ to play an hour of Mario Kart Wii.

Mario Kart's core concept has always been simple yet engaging enough to withstand the test of time. Mario Kart 64 is still thriving with rankings and tournaments all over the world. Even the original SNES game is good for a quick run through now and then. Mario Kart's fun foundation has remained the same with even iteration, and credit Nintendo for not messing with a good thing.

But now's the time for change. Double Dash!!, the GameCube Mario Kart title and last game in the series, fell a tad shy in terms of expectations, mainly because it lacked online play. Mario Kart Wii is years in the making, and the success of the Wii and its install base that's both casual and hardcore, should be a perfect fit for the Mario Kart that we've all been waiting for.
New and old courses make up the massive race list in Mario Kart Wii.

New and old courses make up the massive race list in Mario Kart Wii.
Jumping In

Mario Kart is sticking to its guns in terms of gameplay. Nintendo hasn't changed the core play at all, and that should make fans very happy. From the well-timed starting-line boost, power-sliding drift mechanic and cartoon-y projectile items, little has changed with the game's actual play. Even the Wii's 480p graphics give it a distinctly retro look (though, to its credit, Mario Kart Wii's graphical presentation is wonderfully colorful and creative). But it's the options and extras that really make this newest Mario Kart shine...a game that will surely reach Wii Sports-like popularity.

Your Other Wii Addiction
Check out all our latest Super Smash Bros. Brawl news as we approach the game's release!

Check out all our latest Super Smash Bros. Brawl news as we approach the game's release!

Perhaps the biggest reason Mario Kart will be a hit with the casual audience is the Wii Wheel, confirmed to be shipping with every copy of the game. Simply insert your Wii Remote into the wheel, and you're ready to race. But the wheel is just one of five control options for the game, so if the wheel isn't your thing, don't fret. You can also use the Wii Remote horizontally, the Remote and Nunchuk together, the Wii's Classic Controller or the GameCube controller. Veteran Mario Karters will probably prefer to use either the Classic Controller or the GameCube one for its more precise controlling. Not that you can't be precise with the wheel--it'll just take a lot more practice to get comfortable.
Specifics

The big news for Mario Kart Wii is the introduction of online play, supporting up to12 players. Unlike so many other games these days that focus primarily on online, Nintendo is supporting 4-player local split-screen play, as well as allowing 2-players to play online on the same console.
linkage. sounds good