Thursday, May 1, 2008

Top Shell: Episode Two

In today's Top Shell: We've uncovered a Super Blooper, but is the Blooper really that Super? Plus Mario reveals his tips for cleaning red plumber hats.

So, the Super Blooper. We came across Peach after a successful triumph of the Leaf Cup 50cc support race and after finding out that yes, we are Top Shell, Peach was positively thrilled to loan us her kart for a bit of rigorous testing. Upon delivery, the first thing that strikes us is the frightening design of this kart. More to the point, the frightening EYES of the kart:




Pokenoz engineers say they watched the Blooper's graceful movements in the water, and wanted to move that feeling of grace and speed into the karting world. And they've hit the mark. Kind of. It looks graceful, and certainly handles better than the Wild Wing could dream. The Blooper ships from the factory with a suspension system that makes the occasional off-road excursions quick and enjoyable; though it's obviously not it's strong suit nor is it recommended for a driver that enjoys the taste of victory. This car is so properly sorted and driver friendly that a confident driver can toss the kart into a corner and hold a tight line with nary a complaint. Unfortunately there is a catch. The powerplant was not designed to handle the large amount of nitrous boosting used in MKGP, and suffers greatly coming off of corners when matched against other more powerful engines.

Will this cause a problem on the Luigi Circuit, well let's get to it shall we?

Some say that he is the 4th piece of the Triforce, and that in order to make him work you have to lift his mask and blow in the slot. All we know is, he's called The Stig.

The Stig brings the Super Blooper onto the track, and through the in-kart video feed we can hear he's listening to the theme song from "The Wild One". A madcap 1953 jazz piece from composer Leith Stevens, the song alternates between rising brass notes and rapid pace drums to a more relaxed cymbal & cello breakdown. The music seems to serve to keep Stig both relaxed and pumped for each flying lap around the track. Coming across the finish, let's see where the pistons fall!

1'23.392" - Fastest 3 Lap Total
0'27.725" - Fastest Flying Lap

Oh dear. The three lap total is only 0'00.170" faster than the Standard M. Comparing the two, it becomes obvious the Blooper's powerplant is the Achilles heel of this machine. It's ability to stick to the shorter line through a corner is negated by it's inability to capitalize on the release of nitrous during the exit of the corner. Still all things considered, a rookie driver or even an experienced veteran can be a threat to the leader with such a kart under their control.

Just, mind the straightways.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Notes and Addendums.

The Stig is currently doing his testing using the following characters:
  • Yoshi for Medium
  • Toad for Small
  • Bowser for Large
  • 50's/60's Jazz for Power Laps
We will keep you informed if the Stig chooses a new character or genre of music.

Top Shell: Mario Kart Wii

This, is a Mario Kart program. There will be no rubber banding, there will be no banana peels, no-one will lag, and at the end of the blog, no-one... will really care. Blogspot is our base, and this is our purpose-built Luigi Circuit test track. There are no traffic jams here, and no blue-shells either. We intend to drive each vehicle, and flog them mercilessly to see just what laptimes can be wrung from these two and four-wheeled rockets. This... is Top Shell!

In today's Top Shell: Meet the track, meet the driver, and find out what shampoo Peach uses to keep her hair managable.

Welcome to Luigi Circuit:

The opening track of the Flower Cup, this race course is relatively simple and free of any outside interference that could affect laptimes, making it our first choice for the Top Shell test track. After some negotiations with Luigi, he was more than willing to close off the track for our needs, and allow us to use his pipe-green Kooparii Testarossa as a grocery getter. What a guy!

Today's reviewed karts are the Standard M and the Wild Wing. The Standard, well what can you say really? It's average. Nominal. Adequate. Sure it has power steering, but there's no power windows. Or doors. Or even a roof. Hailing from Miisan Motors, the Standard M sets the standard -- pun possibly intended -- for the beginners kart. Easy to toss about, easy to recover, with enough power to the wheels for an enjoyable cruise.

The Wild Wing kart is a product of Mushroyota, with styling cues taken from their professional GT automobiles. It's a pity the engineers decided to adjust the gearing for high top end speeds at the severe expense of solid acceleration, and replaced the sublime suspension system from their roadracing vehicles with something I can only describe as "two tin cans and some chicken wire." Making this thing turn a corner is about as easy as making Mario stop appending an extra letter "a" in his speech pattern. However the Wild Wing does have a saving grace. Provided you can toss it into a corner, the kart will stick and give you a stable tail-out oversteering platform for all those showy drifts we know all the kids love these days.

And now, to meet our main driver. Some say his nightmares consist of a blue shell with four wheels, and Rainbow Road was his idea of a "relaxing Sunday drive"... All we know is, he's called The Stig.

With that said, here are The Stig's current kart laptimes for Luigi Circuit:
1st: 1'21.279" - Wild Wing
2nd: 1'23.562" - Standard M

Fastest Kart Lap: 0'26.941" -- Wild Wing

So there you have it. The Wild Wing kart sets a laptime just tenths of a second over a minute 21, and we have a feeling The Stig might be able to squeeze a faster lap on a future return to the Wild Wing. Coming up on future episodes of Top Shell:
  • The Standard S & L -- Because if we did the Standard S&M our broadcast license would probably be revoked.
  • The Classic Dragster -- A dragster, really? You know Top Shell does make turns right?
  • The Super Blooper -- The name writes it's own review.
And more!