Nintendo Wii Mario Kart bundle review: Is $150 still a good deal?

The Nintendo Wii has never been less expensive, but it's also a system that's facing eventual extinction. We review the latest Nintendo Wii Mario Kart bundle.

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As of November 2011, the Nintendo Wii will be 5 years old. That's a long time in game years; in fact, it's nearly a console generation. To no great surprise, then, Nintendo has already announced the Wii's successor, the Wii U , with a likely release date of 2012. Until then, the Wii still survives, but as a lame duck console. That doesn't mean it should be overlooked. Nintendo's latest Wii console bundle--the fourth since the Wii's debut--is the lowest price ever, at $150, although the components in the bundle since last year's $200 have changed.

Gone is Wii Sports, the perennial Wii console pack-in. Gone, too, is Wii Sports Resort. Instead, the new Mario Kart bundle includes a Wii Remote Plus, nunchuck, a copy of Mario Kart Wii, and a Wii Steering Wheel plastic accessory. Mario Kart's a fun casual racer, but Nintendo has taken its most popular motion-control game, Wii Sports, out of the equation, forcing people to buy it separately. It doesn't make much sense, especially considering the game's 5 years old. Those interested in multiplayer games will also have to buy an extra Wii Remote Plus and nunchuck, $40 and $20, respectively.

Europe has announced an even less expensive redesigned Wii bundle, but the $150 Mario Kart version remains the least expensive Wii console in the U.S. We'd love to see this system drop down to $99, but that's just wishful thinking for now. That said, it can be found for under $135 at such major retailers as Wal-Mart and Amazon.

So the question remains: at those prices--about half that of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360--is the Wii worth the investment for first-time buyers?

The answer, as usual, is, "It depends." We used to love the Wii for its clean, futuristic design and motion-control family games, but its thunder has since been stolen by motion-control solutions like the Kinect and PlayStation Move , and by family-friendly gaming devices like the iPad . The Wii was an aging, fading star last fall, and today it's a console that's feeling decidedly last-gen: it still isn't HD, and its appeal beyond budget family entertainment and nostalgic gaming is dwindling fast.

That doesn't mean there aren't a ton of excellent, first-party Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games worth buying, and some interesting bargain-bin exclusives never seen on any other console that would be fun for grown-ups and families alike. The Wii was the cheapest gaming console before, and it remains the cheapest now. But, other than the impending release of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the best days of the Wii are decidedly behind it.

At this stage in its life cycle, the Wii is more of a gaming novelty than a console to invest in. Our advice: consider the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 first, which currently are available for as low as $249 and $199, respectively. Buy the Wii only if you're looking for a kid-friendly gaming console with a solid library of older, affordable games. Just be prepared to invest $70 to $100 if you need extra controllers and some must-have titles (such as Wii Sports).

With that caveat established, read our full review of the Nintendo Wii Mario Kart bundle.

What do you think? Is the Wii worth $150 today? Would you recommend it to a friend? Sound off in the comments below.

About the author

Scott Stein is a senior editor covering iOS and laptop reviews, mobile computing, video games, and tech culture. He has previously written for both mainstream and technology enthusiast publications including Wired, Esquire.com, Men's Journal, and Maxim, and regularly appears on TV and radio talking tech trends.

 

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