Everyone can start their engines

Special to The Times

Usually when a blockbuster action movie is released, only a few other films open that same day, most likely a family-friendly flick or a romantic comedy. It’s called counter-programming. They are the antithesis of the explosions and violence in the juggernaut, aimed at a totally different audience.

Such is the case with Mario Kart Wii, which hit store shelves this week, as did that big game about stealing cars.

While the Grand Theft Auto series shouldn’t be viewed by anyone under legal voting age, Mario Kart Wii is good, clean, wholesome fun, perfect for everyone in the family -- even you, Grandma. In fact, Mario Kart is such a simple good time -- and incredibly easy to play -- this just might be the title that gets Nana to stop playing Wii sports and start playing “real” games.

This version of the classic go-kart racing series, chock-full of the Mario brand of shenanigans, comes with a steering wheel holder for the Wii remote that creates an easy wireless way to drive. (The wheel is not required, however, as Mario Kart Wii supports any of the five different ways to control a Wii game, giving gamers a choice.)


The racing is full of great quirky action, and the online play couldn’t be more simple and exciting. (The ability to see what part of the world your opponent hails from is astounding.)

The tracks are as varied as the choices of classic Mario world characters. And this outing features two-wheel motorbikes in addition to a selection of go-karts.

Best of all, there are no pangs of guilt while playing (unlike with GTA).

Grade: A (the perfect alternative)


Details: Nintendo Wii platform; $49.99; rated Everyone (comic mischief)