When Wheelspin was announced, its publisher Bethesda started the hype early promising "unpredictable race tracks at exhilarating speeds of up to 650kph" and "a frantically fast-paced game which pushes the Wii to its maximum capabilities." We were hopeful that the game would live up to these bold statements. As it is, the hype train might as well have stayed in the station. Wheelspin is one of the worst games we've ever played.
On paper the game sounds like an impressive achievement. It supports multiple control schemes (Remote, Nunchuk, Classic Controller and GameCube controller), claims to run at a smooth 60 frames per second and offers eight-player split-screen multiplayer. In practice it falls apart quicker than a roll of toilet paper in a car wash.
Regardless of which control system you opt for, the handling is atrocious. Unless the road is completely flat you're going to struggle to maintain control of your car, and given that each of the game's tracks have loop-the-loops, corkscrews and banked turns all over the place you can pretty much forget about staying on the track for an acceptable period of time.
It's Wheely Bad
We know what some of you are thinking so let us clear something up. We're not bad at racing games yet the entire ONM team tried and failed to get around a course without spinning all over the place. Some will argue this makes for a good challenge, but we beg to differ. It's so frustrating.
Imagine a small paper airplane made with a sheet of A5 paper gently gliding through the air. Now imagine a nine-foot Roman gladiator leaping into the sky and slapping his fist right through it with all his might. The plane's response would be somewhat similar to your car's in Wheelspin when you so much as clip the edge of the track or another car. It's ridiculous. The smallest touch can send you spinning out all over the place.
How about that eight-player splitscreen? That's got to be fun, right? Admittedly, we like how well it detects every type of controller that's connected: we played with three GameCube controllers, three Remotes, a Nunchuk and a Classic Controller. Then the race started and it was business as usual. Those '60 frames a second' claims were blown out of the water and it became abundantly clear that it doesn't matter how many people are playing if the game's still as fun as having a bath with defensive hedgehogs. We started with eight players and by the end of the race only three were still playing. Others had either given up in frustration or crashed near the loop-the-loop and were caught in an endless cycle that saw them respawning in front of the loop and not being able to pick up enough speed to clear it.
Wheelspin might have a smooth frame rate (in single-player at least), but that counts for nothing. A racing game can be as smooth as the Fonz but if it handles like a yacht in a storm it's to be avoided at all costs.