Review by manu4evr
"Not the best... but it's up there."
Mario Kart DS. 3 (or 2, or 4) words which can be the best words you've ever heard, OR, a migrane. I'm more with the first option, but, as with every game, it has its flaws.
Now... down to the nitty-gritty...
It's a racing game... what story is there?
For some reason, some people say the point of a game is Graphics. I am not one of those people, but... Most characters are awesome looking, such as Mario and Yoshi. Other ones, mainly bigger ones, look like they've been pushed through a cheese grater and survived. Take DK. If you start at his waist, he's fine until you get to the top half, when you see his face and shoulders. His face barely moves a bit, and when it does, his "o" mouth looks more like an octogon. The courses are all AWESOME. When you're in there, you just wanna stop and look at your surroundings, but you know you can't.
Music=Awesome. And why? You're talkin' about Nintendo, man! The guys who composed the SMB theme are back for more. And, if I dare say so, they succed! The course themes fit the setting perfectly. Luigi's Mansion has a haunted house theme to it. Nintendo's second-best work of music, just behind the SMB theme, has to be Walugi Pinball/Wario Stadium. The day I got it, I would play those two just for the music. The retro stages are pumped-up remixes of their origanal tune, and they ROCK! The character voices are what you'd expect, such as Mario's "Ha Ha!" and Yoshi's "Ha-hoo!" You only get voices when you overtake, fire, hit and are hit, but you don't want voices all the time, do you? What stops me from a 10, you ask? It's the engine! It blares all the way through the race, but it's only such a problem that it gets a 9.
I said in the Graphics that I don't consider them the main part. THIS is the main part, the bread and butter of a great game.
The classic Mario Kart gameplay we all love is back to please us some more. I don't know why, but shooting people with rocket launchers isn't as fun as knocking cars with turtle shells. Yes, turtle shells. The items from MK64 are here again, with a new friend... The Bullet Bill hammers in to other racers, sending them flying. The Blue Shell from DD rears its ugly head again, but now you get 4 or 5 in one race! Some people think that's a bat point, but I love it! It actually feels like there's a reason to protect your title. Once again, no coins! The racing is what you expect from Mario Kart, and for those who don't know, it's just amazing. The Battle Mode can now be played with only 1 player, and has two modes. Balloon Battle is normal Mario Kart battling, where you try and pop everybody's balloons with items. However, you only start with 1 balloon, and to get more, you have to blow in the mic, or hold SELECT while stationary. Shine Runners, on the other hand, is completely different. You have to collect a load of Shine Sprites in a 30 second time limit, and the ones that don't get kicked out. The all-new mission mode, makes you do 8 missions in 7 levels which take place in a normal course, but you have to do a certain objective e.g. Drive through rings, drive backwards, collect coins, etc. The 9th mission in every level makes you fight a boss from a past game. You have to use the skills you've acquired in the missions to beat him.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE 4/10
This and the Multiplayer are the things that let this game down. On 50cc, you could literally stay in last for most of the race (Can you even call it that on 50cc?) , and still win by miles at the end. Seen the point yet? On 100cc, the AI now cheats. You could just have taken over, say, Bowser, and all of a sudden he doubles in speed without using the stay-behind boost. AND, if that wasn't bad enough, you look down and see that the guy in 3rd place has a Blue Shell. Once you're blown up by that, you get hit by a Lightning Bolt, then a Red Shell, and you end up in last. I can't find words to describe it in 150cc, 'cause there's only 1: DEATHTRAP. You get hit by Blue Shells in 2nd, bananas chucked right in front of you, just placed so you can't swerve without falling off. If you happen to get a perfect 40 in all 150cc cups, then you must kneel up and thank the God of Fortune, because if this game had a health bar, you'd be killed in 5 seconds. Ok, maybe not, but you get the point.
TRACK CHOICES 8/10
What's new for the DS? You have 16 retro tracks from SMK, MK64, MKSC and MKDD, and they've all been tweaked slightly to fit the DS capabilities. The new tracks have the usual tracks from 3D MK games, such as public roads, screaming metal deathtraps, dirtbike stadiums, Bowser's Castle, all leading to the final frontier of Rainbow Road. The retro stages are nicely picked as well, with favourites like Baby Park from DD, Sky Garden from SC, the classic Mario Circuit 1 from SMK and Choco Mountain from MK64. Some tracks were badly picked, like Moo Moo Farm. I feel that Nintendo should have simply put in the rough favourites from players worldwide.
The low point. Nintendo doesn't use the full quality of the DS to make the Multiplayer.
Single card game allows you and up to 7 friends to race each other on 8 of the 32 tracks in the game, and the players without the game get stuck with Shy Guy, while you get to choose who you want. If racing isn't your thing, then you can battle them on 3 randomly selected battle courses. Multi card game is the high point, which saves this section. You all choose who you like, and you can use every single course in the game. The only problem is lag. Halfway through a race, the game may slow down, but not too much. Wifi. The most famous point on this game, fails everyone miserably. To choose who to race against, you have to exchange "Friend Codes" which are 12-digit codes unique to your game. If you bothered to go through that, you'd probably find out that they use a technique called "snaking" which is using the powerslide mini-turbo over and over again. You can tell if they are going to snake if they choose the Egg 1, Dry Bomber, or ROB-BLS.
Think about it. You've completed 50cc, and you see there are 2 more cc's to whup ass in. You complete 100cc, and take on 150cc. You finally beat it, only to find you now have to do 150cc Mirror! After you beat that, most racing games would just sit there and collect dust. But here, you could try and complete the missions to pass the time, OR, try to set unbeatable records in Time Trial mode. Only problem is, the extras don't go forever. Once you've tested all the karts, set records and completed the Missions... All you have to do now is work up skills to thrash your friends in Multiplayer! Really, Nintendo seemingly made this to keep you occupied for a short time, then put in some good multiplayer, and released it. Eventually, the Multiplayer becomes this game's last legs (Well, actually, I'm not sure, as I haven't had the game for a year yet.).
VALUE FOR MONEY
What are you getting for the £30 this game costs? Well, since you asked... oh, right, you didn't... Anyway, you get mostly breathtaking graphics, the music you're used to from every Mario game, absolutely AWESOME gameplay, mediocre multiplayer, and, to put it simply, the next in line of the greatest racing series ever.
PROS AND CONS
+ - It's a Mario Kart game!
+ - Mostly awesome looking characters
+ - Beautiful courses
+ - Music and Sound Effects
+ - AWESOME Gameplay
+ - Harder AI
+ - Brilliant Battle Mode
+ - Multi card game multiplayer
+ - No Coins!
- - Some characters are extremely blocky
- - The engine
- - Missions get repetitive
- - Single card multiplayer and Wifi
As you can see, this game is mainly brilliant, with some silly mistakes by Nintendo.
BUY OR RENT?
I would definetly say BUY, however I know certain people like to test before they do something, and if you are one of those people, then you may RENT first.
Mario Kart DS does not fail players in most catagories, but the ones that do can grow on you. I mean, now I actually like Single card multiplayer.
This is my first review, so sorry if I said something obvious and/or stupid.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 05/21/07
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