Monday, May 12, 2008

A late bloomer

It has taken time for Nintendo to realize that online gaming is important. When their comparators first went online they didnt seem to care at all and when Nintendo years later finally introduced an online infrastructure it was seriously gimped by things such as friend codes. This might have changed with Mario Kart Wii, it seems like Nintendo just nailed online. Im going to list everything it does right to illustrate my point.

It futures twelve player completely lag free online play. I have played for hours and never experienced any lag. There is some slight warping, but thats the price you pay to get rid of the lag.

It shows you if your friends are online when you connect to the WiFi network. You can also check if anyone is playing in the Mario Kart Channel without having to pop in the game.

If one of your friends are online it lets you easily join their game. If they are playing with other friends it also lets you add them to your friends list without the need for friend codes.

If you already have a friend added to your console you dont need to enter a new friend code like with other games, you can just send them a friends request.

You can play two players online on one console.

Everyone gets to vote on which track to play and the computer then selects one of them. Its not completely random.

Mario Kart has leader boards for every track that you can sort by world, region and friends.

You earn points by doing well online which helps your rank.

These are all pretty basic stuff but its the most important things in an online game and Nintendo has successfully implemented them. So finally you can have a decent online experience on a Nintendo system. Other then this Mario Kart also does some cool and innovative things online

When you first join an online game it shows you your opponents Miis and where they are from on a spinning globe. This gives you more of a feeling of playing against real people and it makes the whole thing more personal.

Mario Kart has its own type of free downloadable content. The competitions, where you get to play on modified courses to compete with the rest of the world and the people on your friends list for the best time.

It lets you download ghost data for every course, both from the record holder and from the player who is one step above your best time. So you can keep beating better and better players as you try and improve your time.

Nintendo has modified the classic battles to work with more players so that they are playable with up to twelve people online.

There is sadly still no voice chat, not even with your friends. Other then that it seems to me like Nintendo really has done everything possible within the boundaries of their online infrastructure to offer a really sold online experience. Its not as good as Xbox Live but remember that you pay $50 a year (or $100 where I live) for Live while Nintendos service is free.

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