Aug 17 '09
by Blueshell Magnet

Mario Kart Wii: Three Star Rating

If you don’t want to hear my personal philosophy on the rating system, you might want to scroll down.

The Rant:

coverIf there is one thing that I loathe in video games, one thing that I cannot stand, one thing that sends me into controller wrenching rage, it’s arbitrary rating systems. Having a rating system is bad enough. HONESTLY, if I wanted a computer to tell me I suck at video games, I’d write program to insult me while I played.

The rating system in Mario Kart Wii (and DS) is absolutely worthless. All me to reiterate: the RATING SYSTEM is ABSOLUTELY WORTHLESS.

Let me explain.

First off, the rating system is a cross between a letter grading system and a star rating system. You can get an E, D, C, B, A, ☆, ☆☆ or ☆☆☆ rating. E is bad, it means you are a terrible person and probably don’t have any friends. It also means you need to play more Mario Kart or go back to collecting those pet rocks you find in your driveway. ☆☆☆ Is the best rating you can get. It means that you are either an arrogant hack, who doesn’t have any friends or a nerdy gamer who has playing nothing but Mario Kart for 5 years straight and as a result doesn’t have any friends. (Please send your complaints to

Having one rating system is bad enough, having two is downright ridiculous. How am I suppose to know that a star is better than an A? How do I know when the star ratings stop? Most star ratings go to five stars! ( ☆☆☆☆☆ ) Why does this one go to three?

Secondly, a rating system is designed to judge and compare things. When I am awarded an A, I don’t have a clue as to what I am being compared to. I won all the races in first place, I finished a full lap in front of the computer players, (*cough* 50cc) I blocked a huge number of items, etc… Maybe I feel I did awesome on this set of races. I felt really good about it and everything went well. Yet, my rating is lower than last time I played, even though I thought I did awful back then.

Even more annoying than Nintendo’s mutated rating system is the lack of documentation that supports it. I could live with the brain-dead judgement system that some disgruntled underpaid misanthrope developed in the bowels of Nintendo headquarters, ( had they just provided instructions with it.

Example Instructions:

Finishing in each place gives you points. The three racers with the most points at the end of the cup will receive a trophy. Your driving will also be graded. Try to get the highest rating you can! (We want to encourage you to do a good job in this game, because we know you are an under achieving slob who always tries to lose at games and don’t understand the concept of being the best!) To get a three star rating (the best rating, because five stars was too much after we added in all those obnoxious letters), just do the following during the length of the cup:

__ Get first in all races
__ Hit 10 opponents with red shells
__ Be hit with 327 Blueshells
__ Spend 5 minutes doing drift turns around corners
__ Throw the blasted Wii-Mote through your television screen
__ Shove a screwdriver into your left eyeball
__ Draft behind one opponent
__ Pull of 3 tricks while going off jumps

But instead Nintendo sends us out with these instructions:

Actual Instructions from Page 12 of the game manual:

You earn points based on your placement in a race. After you complete all four courses, your points are added together to determine your overall ranking. Gold, silver, and bronze trophies are awarded for first, second, and third place overall. Your driving technique will also be ranked.

Screenshot of the manual, page 12.

Screenshot of the manual, page 12.

Mario Kart is a game about control. Most of the game is out of the control of the player. I can’t control when a computer uses a lightning bolt, throws a blueshell, barrels into me from behind with a star and throws me off the course. The gall of Nintendo to offer to rate me on my performance, which is not entirely under my control, and then not even tell me the requirements for the rating is so amazingly stupid I can’t even come up with a decent anecdote for it! They might as well rank me on the performance of the person in second. Or the time of day I play. Or the weather outside. I don’t know, maybe they do.

No, I’m not bitter at all.

Okay, that’s enough ranting.

The Info You Are Looking For: How to get a 3 Star Rating in Mario Kart Wii

This is not easy. This is so not easy. I have yet to get a three star rating in Mario Kart Wii. I also have yet to find anyone who is capable of explaining the rules to me.

Tough to Find has a series of posts which offer a series of marginally helpful tips ‘Tips from Marv.’ You can find his articles here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

But I’ll post his main points here for your convenience. (His site offers a paragraph or two of description and explanation for each tip.)

1. practise [sic]
2. choose a character and vehicle and stick with it
3. bikes are better
4. turbo after spin out
5. what counts as a 3 star race? …no-one exactly knows!
6. give up on the wheel
7. learn from others
8. trailing items to defeat red shells
9. turbo at start and on corners
10. go manual
11. use tricks
12. turbo when you fall off
13. Avoiding POW blocks
14. you can sometimes avoid a blue shell
15. hang back slightly on the first course
16. use drafting
17. stay on the main part of the track
18. be lucky! Or patient…

Many of his points are just simple rules to play by, others a speculative suggestions. Overall I didn’t find it terribly helpful, as I did most of those things anyway.

Potentially more helpful was a video I found on YouTube called “How to get 3 stars: Mario Kart Wii” where PhyRemind posted information in the video discription:

All information is factual based and in no way speculated.

50cc: Stay on the course at all times and dont hit walls or edges.(so you cant use mushrooms to do a jump/shortcut by going off course.) Falls allowed: 2 Go ahead and get hit by all the items you want, it wont make a difference.

100c: Wheelies and Tricks. Going off course is okay. 2 Falls allowed

150c: Tricks, item block, take out others with items. 2 Falls allowed

Mirror: Just do all you can do (tricks, items**, dodging.)
2 Falls allowed. (Though its kinda over when you fall just one time)

General Info for all Engine Levels: Dodging a blue shell with a mushroom will give you bonus points in getting a 3 star ranking. Not getting hit a lot in 100cc 150cc Mirror will give you higher chance of 3 stars. You must get 60 points for a 3 star rank. (No, Really?)
**Drift Boosts are always fun to do**

I found this information also to be lacking. Following his advice I was unable to get three stars in 50cc, although, some commenters claimed that it helped them.

Yahoo Answers, interestingly enough, has been rather helpful on the whole issue.

Tim asks this:

How do you earn 3 stars on Mario Kart Wii?
I’m playing through the tracks on Mario Kart Wii. Sometimes when I come first all the time and get 60 points I get one star. Sometimes, (although more rare) I get 2. I’ve read on the Internet you can get 3. How is this determined? We seem to have misplaced the manual so I can’t look it up!

I think the discussion that follows offers some good insights into how things seem to work. Matt A says:

You can get killed, not spend the whole time in first, and still get 3 stars. There seems to be an algorithm at work here. I think that it is based on some of the following criteria:

Time spent in first place
Opponents that you hit
Number of times you were hit (fewer is better)
Items dodged (probably includes running a clean race and trying not to fall off ledges or run off the road)
Total seconds that you win by
Tricks performed during the races

If you can max out these criteria, you are certainly in a good position to reach the 3 stars. Good luck!

And of course suggerdaddy wins the clueless answer of the week award:

go on and keep trying.because i am about to get it and when i get the manual i will tell u right away


A three star rating implies that it’s a ‘perfect’ match. I would guess that’s a misnomer. For reasons mentioned in my rant, if Nintendo required perfection most certainly the computer players would mess everything up every time.

I think the main criteria is track time. I’m guessing there are other criteria, but time has to be pretty strongly counted. If you can pull of an amazing time in grand prix mode, that means you are driving *really* well and are not getting hit by many items. Getting hit by items really slows you down.

I’m sure there are little things like wheelies, tricks and turn boosts that are taken into account as well, but those things really just boil down to a faster time.

If you came to me today and said “I *need* to get three stars on everything. How Can I do it?” I would have to say, unlock and beat the expert staff ghost on every track. Then go and play grand prix mode until your eyes bleed.

As for me, I’ll be content when I can get one star on every cup and unlock the blasted karts and karacters. (Characters. Sorry, Donkey Kong slip of the fingers.)

If you know something I don’t, please post it here. As I find out more, I’ll update things as well.

One Response to “Mario Kart Wii: Three Star Rating”

  1. Paul Gansen says:

    I am not entirely sure how I feel about the rating system. I feel it is flawed, but not too badly. For Mario Kart Wii, I have almost been able to get two stars on all races. In face, this is my record for races that DO NOT have two stars:

    3 stars
    50cc Mushroom, Lightening
    100 cc Shell

    1 star
    100cc Special, Leaf, Lightening
    150 cc flower, star, leaf
    Mirror flower, star, banana, leaf lightening

    How did I get three stars? Not entirely sure. All I know is that I need to race at near perfection.

    I feel the system should be less arbitrary and more concrete. For example, this is a simple way I would rate it so you know before the award ceremony where you sit:

    E-less than 3rd place (in the cup)
    D-3rd place (in the cup)
    C-2nd place (in the cup)
    B-1st place (in the cup)
    A-1st in all races in the cup
    but here is where it can get a little arbitrary
    *-1st in all race, and then a little something extra

    Now what this “extra” is, I haven’t decided. No falling off the edge? Total finish time is 20 seconds less than 2nd place time? Maybe even more. With this rating system, I would make the star a little more elusive; around the current 2.5 star range. This way, truly elite (or hacking) players would even KNOW about the star and it would be special; not just something you need do to unlock characters and then strive for a higher star.

    Any way, what you’ve all be waiting for: my insight on how to get the infamous star rating

    From Prima’s Mario Kart Wii guide with the official Nintendo Seal

    “Are you constantly missing a *** rating? Then make sure you follow all there instrucions:

    Finish the cup with 60 points (four wins in a row).

    Stay in first place during each race for the longest possible time.

    Your ranking falls if you are hit by player-controlled rivals (their vehicles or items)

    Your ranking falls if you drive off the track, crash into walls , or take damage from beasts, so avoid these!”

    Hope the helps