Review by Cenedarprime
"It's-a me, Mario! Now eat-a my dust!"
Hey there all you DS owners out there. I'm finally putting in my word on Mario Kart DS, now that I've finally been able to get a copy for myself. I'll tell you now, I am a big Mario Kart fan, and I am happy to say that this game delivers, and delivers big. And while it's not necessarily a groundbreaking, fresh take on the Mario Kart series, it is another solid online game that will entertain players for a long time, and definitely warrants a purchase for any DS owner. But enough intro, let's get on with the show already
Game play in this outing is, in essence, the same as it always has been in previous Mario Kart titles. Pick your favorite Mario character, hit the track, and race through a bunch of whimsical, often times wacky circuits, all while pummeling your foes with a series of banana peels, Koopa shells (green, red, and the infamous blue), bombs, among others. This hasn't changed with this game, and for all intents and purposes, it's probably better that way. We didn't really expect new controls anyway, not until Mario Kart for Wii is released at least. But the controls are tight and responsive, sliding and turning comes easily enough. Each character has their own advantages and weaknesses based on their own weight and the size of their car. For example, Bowser is gonna have it easy when smacking around littler combatants like Yoshi or Mario, whereas Peach would probably have a hard time running Donkey Kong off the track. There are now more karts to choose from for each character, and going through the different modes will unlock new characters, cups, and cars for you to choose from. The basic variety of modes, Grand Prix, Multiplayer, and Battle, have all returned for this, and the addition of online play increases this games value by quite a bit.
There are new items in this version as well. Notable among these are the Blooper, which will spray ink in the faces of racers ahead of you, temporarily impairing their vision, and the Bullet Bill, which transforms you into a giant bullet that will speed ahead, knocking aside any players unfortunate enough to be in your line of fire.
It's solid, familiar, and still as natural as ever. Those who have played Mario Kart before will feel right at home, and those who have yet to try their hand behind a Mushroom Kingdom wheel will be able to pick this up and play well quickly.
One of the mainstays in the Mario Kart series has been the clean, rather simple menus and interfaces when not in the middle of a race, and this does not change. The menus in this game are easy to navigate. The graphics in this game really show off what the DS is capable of, whether you be burning through the sun drenched plaza of Delfino Island or tooling through a giant, trippy pinball machine, the 3D graphics of the game itself are solid, colorful, and never suffer hits in lag from what I have played (apart from very distanced players over wifi). Each racer has their own unique rides, reflecting their tastes and characters quite well. Nothing really groundbreaking here, and with the lack of character specific items, like in Double Dash, it's really a familiar look to the series.
Another point in it's favor, however, is a little side option that allows you to make your own decal for your car when racing. If you're tired of your character's regular icon, make one of your own.
All the characters' current voices return in this game, for those grunts and screams when they hit an obstacle or are smacked with an item, to the short little one liners they shout after winning a race. Music in this game is well made, and each track has it's own distinct feel when music is added, although none of the tracks really stand out to me. It's standard Mario Kart fare for music, and that's not a bad thing at all.
There are extra difficulties, cups, racers and cars to unlock in this game. Regrettably though, there really isn't HUGE amount of characters or tracks to unlock. This is a shame, as there were classic tracks from previous Mario Kart titles, and yet I felt there should've been more of them, especially from Mario Kart 64. Perhaps Mario Kart Wii will really bring the retro tracks we love back to the scene. There are only a handful of unlockable characters, which is a shame compared to Double Dash's impressive roster. There is still replay value in online multiplayer though, and this game is still enough sheer fun to last you a long time.
Replay Value- 8
FINAL SCORE: 8/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 12/17/07
Game Release: Mario Kart DS (US, 11/14/05)
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