Trackmania Wii review

Summary: This is a genuine Trackmania experience. This is the Wii racer we have been waiting for. This is also one of the best Wii titles and is as much suitable for the whole family as anything with a Mario game on it. Take my word on it!

Trackmania Wii is out. At least in PAL territories, whereas the NTSC folks have to endure the long wait till December 12. 

For those who don't know, Trackmania has always been a very special racer. What appeared years ago out of the blue to resurrect the crazy stunt racing gameplay, which was first introduced by Stunts, later went on to become the PC racer with probably the largest consistent on-line population. The series popularity has ridiculously grown when the company behind it teamed up with nVIDIA to release a completely free to play Trackmania Nations. The game was backed up by massive advertising and soon became hugely popular. So popular in fact, that for many people, Trackmania denotes Trackmania Nations. However, it is impossible to reduce the series wealth to a single title, since it has so much to offer.

Despite it's success it took ages for the series to appear on a non-PC platform. Its developer, french studio named Nadeo, does not sport a large portfolio of titles, thus, it was always extra careful when making decisions regarding the Trackmania brand value. In the large mobile games boom back in 2005 the company was approached to license the series for mobile but declined.  

Eventually, Trackmania appeared on Nintendo DS systems last year and appeared quite mediocre to me. The track design felt uninspired, many environments were missing and there was zero on-line functionality whatsoever. So you can imagine how Trackmania Wii (and the DS sequel Trackmania Turbo) was hot on my game's radar. The Wii title was sure to either bathe in glory or kill off my interest in the series for good. 

Wii does not have many good racers. This is a fact. Yes there is Mario Kart, true. Unfortunately, it's also probably the only good Wii racer I can recall. Need for Speed clunky gameplay fails across the board of unremarkable titles and the rest is plain shovelware. Maybe with the exception of Speed Racer that was at least a little decent. 

And here comes Trackmania Wii to set the new standard of quality for Wii racers. The game features 6 familiar environments Stadium (F1 racing!), Desert, Snow, Coast, Island and Rally. Each environment let's you drive a different car and puts forth different challenges. 

You can play race, puzzle and platform modes but you can also design your own tracks. And yes, you can do all of that on-line via the Nintendo WFC, where you can also upload your best times (as ghost cars) and race to participate in the global rankings. Once you reach on-line you will understand just how much replay value Trackmania Wii holds. The most interesting on-line mode here is one where players concurrently race the same track, trying to get the best lap time within a given period of time. Unlike classic racers, where a winner is decided once the finish line gets crossed, this mode favors true skill and rewards the player who can come up with the best time. Or perhaps the lucky guy, who manages to pull it off in the last few seconds. This is what makes it so thrilling to go on-line in Trackmania. Don't have your Wii on-line? Good news - you can enjoy the same locally in a hotseat mode (players take turns) or via split-screen.

Every racer is only as good as it's controls and Trackmania Wii absolutely shines through in this aspect. By default you use the D-pad to steer but you can switch to the Wii Wheel, which is what I did and I was blasted away. It feels very natural and it is quite responsive. Using the Wii Wheel helps you tell the differences between various cars and turning at different speeds. It feels hugely rewarding to flawlessly steer your car in near 400 km/h speed through sets of sharp turns and then take off of a platform in a giant leap over a one hundred meter wide gap. At such moments, you are likely to drop the controller in awe. Trackmania Wii is blissful.

Trackmania Wii also looks good. It looks just as well as I remember it from my PC, which is quite a feat, especially given how smoothly the game runs. No other racer on the Wii let's you appreciate such sense of speed. When you drive fast, it feels fast. And believe me, you will want to go blazing. 

There are not many reviews for the game up yet (most will come along with the US launch) but I can hardly believe some of these and I question their authors competency and ability to write a review. I mean it. In my opinion, a review serves as an indication whether you should invest your money and your time in a game. It is also my opinion that review scores should come within the context of platform and genre. Thus I can't get how somebody can give but a perfect or near perfect score to Trackmania Wii and I doubt any reviewers not doing so would be able to back their score up with arguments. Maybe we should just stop reading reviews by some poorly opinionated reviewers...

This is a genuine Trackmania experience. This is the Wii racer we have been waiting for. This is also one of the best Wii titles and is as much suitable for the whole family as anything with a Mario game on it. Take my word on it!