Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mario Kart 7's Maka Wuhu Problem

When it comes to gaming, glitches are a common thing. No game is really ever safe from having an occasional bug or programming error that messes with the game. Sometimes dragons fly backwards or characters get stuck in walls but for the most part, in any good game, glitches are few and far between and with the introduction of online gaming, even minor glitches are capable of being fixed through patches made by the developer.

Even the game of the year has horses that can climb up the side of mountains.
However, one developer seems to be a lot further behind the times than any others when it comes to online support with patches. Of course, I’m talking about Nintendo. Nintendo isn’t much for the whole “online” gaming thing and they’ve never sent out patches to fix any of their game’s problems even if they were in need of them. Thankfully, Nintendo games are pretty safe from glitches, their quality control is top notch. Too bad one of their latest games has a glitch that is beyond game breaking on a global scale.

In the latest installment of their popular Mario Kart series, Mario Kart 7, there’s a track known as Maka Wuhu, based on the island from Wii Sports Resort. It’s a pretty neat little track that only has one lap. It’s just a three minute course you race on once. However, about 45 seconds into the track, if you do a very specific maneuver and exploit a glitch in the game’s code, you can actually skip the vast majority of the track. After the second section starts, if you turn around and jump into some water behind a gate, Lakitu will pick you up and take you to the start of the third section, completely skipping all of the second section. It’s very easy to pull off and thanks to the internet, very easy to find out how to do. It’s also ruining the game.

The Maka Wuhu glitch makes playing online with random people about as fun as playing with the only set of building blocks the dentist waiting room has every single time you visit. No matter who you’re playing with online, chances are multiple people are going to vote for Maka Wuhu, thinking they’re the only people on Earth who know how to exploit this game breaking glitch. So you go into a room of eight people, chances are four of them vote for Maka Wuhu, you go to the stage and it just turns into a bunch of people foolishly jumping into the water, thinking they’ve got this in the bag. Then, once the race is over and you wait two minutes for the two people who don’t know about the glitch yet to finish, three of those four people vote for it again because they didn’t win by exploiting their precious strategy and chances are, somebody new has entered the room and voted for it too not knowing you just raced on it. I once played 12 races online with randoms and seven of them took place in Maka Wuhu. I am not kidding.

Unfortunately, when it comes to glitches, Mario Kart isn’t really a stranger to them. Mario Kart 64 had all kinds of weird exploits and glitches you could use, such as jumping half way across the course on Rainbow Road or the horribly programmed red shells that hit the walls every time you threw them. But perhaps the most prominent was snaking in Mario Kart DS. This was another element that ruined playing online for anybody who didn’t know how to do it. Basically, every time you drift in Mario Kart, you get a boost of speed if you do it correctly. Well, in Mario Kart DS, if you wiggled the control pad fast enough, you got the boost faster. Many people figured this out and started exploiting the boost to literally lap people who didn’t know how to do it. Every race you entered, chances are there was a snaker. It made playing with randoms a complete joke if you knew how to do it and no fun if you didn’t. But at least Nintendo fixed it in later Mario Karts by making boosts always show up at a set time rather than how fast you can move your fingers.

Believe it or not, despite how much I hate snaking, I actually think the Maka Wuhu glitch is way worse for a number of reasons. The main reasoning being that with snaking, I could at least race on other tracks. A good snaker could snake no matter what track they landed on so if I was racing four people and one of them knew how to snake, I could at least race the other two on any track I felt like. With the Maka Wuhu glitch, I’m forced to play the same stage over and over again because people online think that glitch is just so great and that they’ll get an easy win. Which of course, brings me to my next point; The Maka Wuhu glitch is easy. While I do consider snaking to be a glitch or just poor programing on Nintendo’s part, it at least took some kind of skill to learn how to do properly. You had to practice the timing and moving the d-pad really fast, it wasn’t something you could just do. In fact, I still can’t do it and Mario Kart DS is by far my most played DS game. With the Maka Wuhu glitch, once you learn how to do it, you can do it every time and trust me, it isn’t hard. I pulled it off on my first try and have been able to do it successfully every time since. No skill, no practice, just exploit.

It's all fun and games until this jerk cheats.
The worst part is, because of Nintendo’s lack of care for their online functions, I doubt we’ll ever see a proper fix of it. Nintendo’s never sent out a patch before and I guarantee this has been brought to their attention by somebody out there. Somebody at Nintendo has to have raced online before and played Maka Wuhu eight times. They have to know. So what’s the hold up? You guys have talked about doing DLC for upcoming games like Fire Emblem, you can’t pretend you can’t send out some kind of patch to fix this. Just, make the gate longer or just program it so that when you fall in the water, Lakitu puts you right back to where you landed. It can’t be that hard for a multi-billion dollar company like yours.

In racing games, shortcuts are one thing but the Maka Wuhu glitch is a glitch and it’s ruining my gaming experience. In a game with 32 different tracks, it’s absolutely pathetic and not fun to race 7 of 12 races on the same track. It’s a problem on a global scale and the more people buy the game and discover the glitch, the worse it will become. Snaking was bad but it at least offered up some variety. There’s only so many times I can lose on Maka Wuhu before I get sick of the game in general. Sure, I can race with my friends and we all have an agreement to not use the glitch but playing one on one isn’t as fun as playing against 7 other strangers. But why bother if I’ll never play on Piranha Plant Slide or DK Jungle? Just Maka Wuhu all day, every day. It’s a problem, Nintendo. Fix it. You have the technology and the power. Just, show us that you care about the online experience for once.

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