By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Nintendo has launched their first Mario Kart installment for the Wii, complete with steering wheel and a special Wii channel to accompany it.

The game will feature motorbike racing for the first time, and players who choose bikes can wheelie to get across the line first, as well as use other game play elements. Players can race on 32 different tracks, 16 of which are lifted from previous Mario Kart games on the Nintendo DS, 64, Super Nintendo and Gameboy Advance, and 10 new battle arenas.

Nintendo also said new characters would also be available, including the ability to play using a player’s own ‘Mii’.

The bundled ‘Wii Wheel’ will allows players to slot in their Wii remote and control the characters via a steering wheel, while players can also use either their Wii remote horizontally, a remote and nunchaku combination, a Classic controller or a GameCube controller.

Using Wi-Fi to connect to the player’s home internet connection, Mario Kart can be played online. Up to 12 players can race simultaneously worldwide, and players can chat to other contestants before a race. Regular four-player games are also possible. 

The new dedicated Mario Kart Channel gives players the ability to monitor worldwide rankings, share ‘Ghost Data’, access special features and join the global Mario Kart Wii community.

Mario Kart for Wii is due out in April and sells for RRP $99.95.