Review by Opassa
"The best Mario Kart? Nope, but fun all the same."
Mario Kart DS was my first DS game, as it was many other's. I had a blast with it, rising in the Grand Prix ranks, unlocking characters, karts, courses, and improving my skill as well. So once I thought I was pretty good at the game, I hopped onto online multiplayer. It was very fun at first, no hitches: straight, good old Mario Kart. However, I would soon encounter most likely the game's biggest problem: snaking. *shiver runs down spine*
If you've never heard the term before, snaking is turbo boosting on straight ways. You can exploit this mechanic in past Mario Karts, however, it's much easier to in Mario Kart DS, and so it's very abusable. Those who don't snake have 0 chance beating those who do, unless they're just really bad at it, like... Godzilla at gymnastics bad. Snaking turns the game into a contest of who can press left+right on the D-Pad over and over again the most for 3 minutes straight. It really destroys that Mario Kart magic that the classic formula has always delivered. You can ignore it when playing with friends/by yourself, but... you shouldn't have to.
A more subtle, but still prevalent Mario Kart DS flaw that you can't ignore is item imbalancing. Understandably, 4th place will get better items than 1st so that they can catch up, I get that, it's Mario Kart. In Mario Kart DS, this concept has been amplified to such an extreme that 1st place gets terrible, nearly useless items while everyone else gets great ones. This means it's actually better to stay BEHIND 1st place, then use your great items at the last minute to sprint into 1st. What kind of a racing game punishes you this much for leading the pack? I know this is Mario Kart, but they've crossed the line to the point where it's just plain ridiculous. I heard Mario Kart Wii has the same problem, but even worse. Seems I'm not just imagining this. MK DS' item imbalance was merely the dark clouds of MK Wii's item imbalance beginning to take shape.
I was also irked that there was no online battle mode. Even with MK Wii, to this day, you cannot play classic free-for-all battle mode online in Mario Kart.
In the end, Mario Kart DS is a quality game that has a few setbacks preventing it from brilliance. While overrated, it's still a very fun experience that I had good times with, mainly with friends... yet I'm merely so-so on recommending, for while it's problems are few in number, they're large in significance, and whether you're organic or electronic, it only takes 1 serious enough ailment to kill. Over 10 years later, as Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time remains the best game of all time, Mario Kart64 remains the best Mario Kart. Will Nintendo ever match the Nintendo64?
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 01/05/09
Game Release: Mario Kart DS (US, 11/14/05)
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