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Mario Kart [Wii]

Mario Kart [Wii]: Achieve Star Rank on Mirror Mode with the Wii Steering Wheel (Hard Mode)

20th century Mario Kart veterans were forced to face the new millennium with an open mind. Released in 2008, Mario Kart Wii built upon the backs of its fabled predecessors. Like any cyclically released gaming series, new installments continue to push previously defined boundaries in order to remain relevant. Mario Kart Wii is very similar to the Super Smash Bros. Brawl release in that it continued adding characters, items and new game mechanics.

The competitiveness of a game must be questioned when considering such changes. Implemented correctly, customizations provide balance. When not, competitiveness is doused in unfair randomness.

The Challenge? Earn a Star Rank on 150cc and Mirror Mode Cups with the Wii Steering Wheel.

Is this a worthy Challenge? Let's find out.


Fairness is a cornerstone to competition. Lord Rigor's first impression of Mario Kart Wii was one of disgust due to its seemingly overwhelming spontaneity. The contradiction of competitive racing in a spontaneous environment is disheartening but, once these irregularities are understood, players can accurately compete.

Mario Kart Wii's Artificial Intelligence (AI) players are a focal point to this argument. As a group, the AIs are nearly an unstoppable force. Where Iggy's Reckin' Balls AI were menacing individuals, a pack of Mario Kart Wii AIs are of sheer mass destruction. Although they don't necessarily operate as a cooperative unit, the presence of 3 or more AIs in a pack is overwhelming because they purposefully swerve into the player and fully utilize their Items.

Without fail, Baby Peach mercilessly waged brutal race war. Nothing was more demoralizing than losing to a pacifier-wielding vixen in a ducky-mobile.

Mario Kart [Wii]: Achieve Star Rank on Mirror Mode with the Wii Steering Wheel (Hard Mode)

There are 12 total racers in Mario Kart Wii instead of the standard 8 (such as in Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart Double Dash), which mathematically results in an increased amount of Items utilized. Moreover, when grouped, AIs utilize the full range of Items including the back-of-the-pack Items (such as the new Bullet Bill and POW Block or the classic Star and Blue Shell). In culmination, the end result is a nuclear bomb of disappointment and confusion.

Gameplay Options

Similar to the N64 racing classic Cruisin' USA, Mario Kart Wii introduced different racing specifications for vehicles. In short, normal Karts offer a higher top speed whereas the standard Bike options include other benefits such as increased acceleration, handling and drifting. Similar to vehicles, different characters have different speeds, weights, etc., as well.

For simplicity, Lord Rigor chose the Standard Bike for His vehicle and Waluigi as his character:

Mario Kart [Wii]: Achieve Star Rank on Mirror Mode with the Wii Steering Wheel (Hard Mode)

Antagonistic and self-congratulatory, Waluigi is the mustachioed enemy of Luigi. Upon winning races, Waluigi shouts phrases such as "So good!" whilst fist pumping. An outward display of confidence is a critical intimidation tactic in the face of 150cc AIs.

The Challenge: Achieve Star Rank on 150cc Cups with Wii Wheel.

Mario Kart Wii includes the standard racing Cups for players to test their fine motor skills. Three speed Difficulties are available ranging from 50cc (Slow / Easy), 100cc (Normal / Medium) and 150cc (Fast / Hard). For Mario Kart Wii, these Slow, Medium and Fast Modes translate to Easy, Medium and Hard Mode Difficulties. Mechanically speaking, the letters "CC" stand for Cubic Centimeters which defines the cylinder capacity in motorized vehicles; the higher the CC, the more displaced cubic volume resulting in a faster vehicle. One must understand their equipment to best compete.

The formula that determines the final Rating at the end of each Cup appears arbitrary to the layman racer. This decade old resource identified the following Racing variables in the equation:

- Achieve 1st place on all 4 races - - Finish the race as fast as possible - - Stay in the lead for as long as possible - - Don't go off-track unless you are using star, mushroom, bullet pill, or Boo (ghost) - - Don't fall off the track - - Don't hit the wall or course obstacles -

In short, careful and effective crowd control is key to achieving a Star Rank on 150cc.

It is important to note that the utilization of the Wii Wheel yields no racing benefits. Interestingly, in proper adherence to the Wii's interactive capabilities, this three-dimensional physical Challenge increased the level of Difficulty in 150cc. Compared to the standard Nunchuk controller, one must overcome the movement sensitivity of the Wheel; loss is guaranteed if the player scratches their nose mid-race. To understand the Wii Wheel controls, a knowledgeable Britishman from Gadgets and Gear's video outlines the general mechanics.

Additionally, Lord Rigor chose Manual Mode in order to utilize Drift Boosts since this is an age old habit from Mario Kart 64.

Mario Kart [Wii]: Achieve Star Rank on Mirror Mode with the Wii Steering Wheel (Hard Mode)

Gratifyingly, Mario Kart Wii acknowledges Wii Wheel players by indicating a white wheel symbol next to the character's score at the end of each Race. This indication alone incentivized the additional physical Challenge of using the Wii Wheel on this 150cc Hard Mode Crusade.

Mario Kart [Wii]: Achieve Star Rank on Mirror Mode with the Wii Steering Wheel (Hard Mode)

Of the eight Cups in total, below is one of Lord Rigor's 150cc races on the Leaf Cup:

Mirror Mode

In Mario Kart Wii, a unique Challenge lays dormant awaiting high caliber racers. If 1st place is achieved on all six 150cc Cups, a new racing option titled Mirror Mode is unlocked.

The speed is still 150cc in Mirror Mode but all Cup races are driven from a reversed driving perspective. As a simple example, on the N64 remake of Bowser's Castle, players climb the castle counter-clockwise on standard 150cc compared to clockwise on Mirror Mode.

Mario Kart [Wii]: Achieve Star Rank on Mirror Mode with the Wii Steering Wheel (Hard Mode)

Although this is a relatively subtle change, players are Challenged to forgo aspects of map memorization previously ingrained from standard racing. Lord Rigor adapted to this change by observing the bottom-right map and planning His left or right turns accordingly throughout Mirror Mode reverted maps. This new format was a rewarding experience because it allowed Lord Rigor to learn new racing strategies that were directly applicable to other racing video games with map indicators. Cruis'n USA on the Nintendo 64 perhaps?

Of the eight Cups in total, below is one of Lord Rigor's Mirror races on the Flower Cup:


Through the introduction of Kart specifications, Mario Kart Wii opened the door to the Collectability Challenge of unlocking vehicles. Lord Rigor did not participate because completing every aspect of a game is not inherently a Challenge in-and-of-itself. For example, Lord Rigor is only interested in completing Mario Kart Wii on 150cc and not racing on 50 CC simply for the sake of an unlockable. Other first-hand accounts indicate similar Collectability ambivalence such as Starry's citation in the Amino Mario Kart community.

Mario Kart [Wii]: Achieve Star Rank on Mirror Mode with the Wii Steering Wheel (Hard Mode)

Challenges must be skill-based and not time-commitment based. Video game developers must Challenge players to improve instead of hanging false carrots simply to have players spend more time in-game. Mario Kart Wii is an example of Nintendo's slight focus shift from skill-based racing for the sake of relevance in 21st century gaming.

Instead, Lord Rigor defines Collectability as a Challenge that occurs organically whilst in pursuit of Hard Mode. Consider Red Alert 2's Collectability Challenge of completing missions within Par Time; this is a worthy Challenge because it is an additional objective lurking within Hard Mode itself.


Is this a worthy Challenge? Yes.

Achieving Star Rank on 150cc and Mirror Mode is a gratifying trial of events. Mario Kart Wii contains the appropriate formula of requiring both practice and patience while still rewarding the player with attainable milestones. Despite inherent spontaneity and undeserving Collectability tactics, core Mario Kart racing principles remain intact offering a relatively Challenging experience.


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