Nintendo pick their way through a minefield of compromises in this online-orientated racing sequel.
Ultimately this is another dissentious sequel that will annoy old school Nintendo fans but likely delight their newer converts.
Although there are few that will disparage the original Mario Kart on the SNES, there's almost no agreement on the quality of its sequels.
Despite the cute exterior and limited technology, the original required considerable skill to master, with a responsive control system that made time trials as much fun as races.
In that sense at least this latest follow-up has almost nothing in common.
This clearly takes its lead more from Mario Kart DS than the GameCube's Double Dash!!, with everyone back to driving alone in their karts.
Except they're not necessarily karts any more at all, with a wide range of bizarre-looking coupes, turbo-powered prams and... motorcycles.
The bikes are a first for the series and work extremely well with a unique wheelie move that aids acceleration.
Although the controversial "snaking" technique has been removed from the game, the number of ways to get a quick speed boost has actually increased.
A new, highly simplified, trick system, where you waggle the remote at the apex of a jump, is added to the usual slipstream and powerslide techniques.
All the various controller options work fine, with the Wii Wheel proving surprisingly fun – if less precise.
Although the communication restrictions will still infuriate Xbox Live users, this is by far Nintendo's most accomplished online game yet.
Indeed it's the only wholly satisfying way to play the game, since splitscreen multiplayer ends up with you either being outnumbered by AI or removing them to endure half-empty tracks.
Having 12 players in a race is great, but not if only three of them are real.
With the bizarrely compromised Battle mode, where you now can only play in teams, this is still far from the definitive version of the game.
But, unless you count the original, such a prospect seems impossible – even undesirable for Nintendo's world order.
Indeed, perhaps the most impressive thing about the game is how it manages its many compromises while still remaining fun for almost everyone.