Review by SenorCactaur
"Offers nothing for the gamers playing alone"
Everywhere you hear people saying that Mario Kart is the best game on the DS. Now, somewhere you have to say "Hold it. The Mario Kart series has never been considered the best game on any system, what makes this better, since the DS has so much to offer?". The answer is, not very much.
I have to say that Mario Kart DS was by far the biggest disappointment in a DS game so far (next to Sonic Rush). I am fairly sure that the fact that this game is so recent is what gives it such huge support. Within months, the support is bound to wear off, like the fun in this game. These are the reasons why I find this game to be sub-par, and not nearly among the elite games of the Nintendo DS.
Probably one of the best things of the game. The graphics are far above Mario Kart 64 and are all well-done. Each course is extremely well-designed and are amazingly intricate. The characters are all designed very well and look exactly as they should. Each kart is also very good, as there are plenty of different karts, instead of different looks with different stats. Also, you can design your own Emblem, which appears exactly on your kart, making your kart customizable and look even more as your own. The eye candy in this game is a real triumph. Among the best graphics on the DS to date, and definitley shows off what the handheld could really do.
Another point for the game. The sound in this game matches the earlier Mario Kart titles and is among the best. Each of the 32 courses has its own individual music, many of which supply good nostalgia for the game. Each character also has their own individual voice bits, for triumphs, fails, victory, and so on. The sound on this game is good, and will give you no need to turn on any other kind of music, which in the end, works for the game.
Now, this is where the game is killed, and the reasoning for my score. Like in any racing game, you race. However... that's it. There is nothing much else to do. You have Mission mode, which supplies very little entertainment, as they are made intentionally frustrating and overall don't last long either way, unless you're obssessed with beating your old scores. The Battle Mode is another, providing two kinds of battles. One is Shine Runners, which is decent, but is not overly fun due to the lack of challenge in the AI (however, as I'll explain later, the AI fluctuates). You have to collect the Shines in the arena, and you lose them by getting hit with an item or falling off the edge, the goal is to try to make your opponent lose theirs and to grab the Shines, whoever has the most shines wins. The other is Battle Mode, which is the traditional balloon-battle mode that we've seen in the earlier Mario Kart titles. However, this was horrible done, because the game, for some reason, stupidly only gives you one balloon compared to the computer's three. In order to get up to speed, you have to stop and blow into the microphone to get more balloons, or hold select. This just makes you ask, "Why couldn't they just give you three balloons in the first place?".
As for the actual racing itself, Grand Prix mode, it gives you plenty. Eight cups with four courses totals out to 32 courses. And at first, it'll be fun to play the 32 courses and get the Gold Trophies. After this, you'll naturally want to move onto 100 CC and 150 CC. These are perhaps the most blatant example of horrible AI in any game. The AI will blatantly cheat here, gaining levels of speed not even possible for certain characters, and no matter what will not let you gain even a small advantage. Slipping on a banana peel will knock you from 1st place to 6th or 7th. There have been races where I've actually started WITH the start boost from 1st place, and somehow ended up in 7th a few seconds after the race started. It is outrageously unfair and makes the Grand Prix mode not fun at all, as the 50 CC courses are easy enough to be boring, and anything after cranks up the difficulty just to annoy you.
There is little replayability, as simply racing gets extremely repetitive, very fast. You race and get trophies. That's it. The fun will wear out soon enough. Missions? Won't last long. Battle? Not enough to keep your occupied for more than a little while. Unlockables? I'll get to that. Unless you have Multiplayer or the WiFi, then it's a little more worth it, and it would make the game worth a much higher score than I'm giving it, However, I'm talking about it as a home game, for the single player, and the lack of support for single player games this game has is truly disgusting, and it's why this game's score has lowered to the amount that it has gotten.
There is a horrible balance between the characters, as heavyweights like Bowser and Wario have their speed rating cranked all the way up, while smaller guys like Toad have lower speed ratings. Terrible way to fluctuate things.
The fact that it has single card multiplayer would have been good, but with single card multiplayer, the person without the card ALWAYS has to be Shy Guy, which is a horrible thing. I don't understand why it couldn't be so both players could choose their characters, but it was most likely just a way to get more people to buy the game, but either way, the single-card multiplayer experience is terrible, because you'll always have to be or race against, Shy Guy.
Like most games, there are unlockables. You get four characters to unlock. Waluigi and Daisy are two, and most Mario fans know them enough to want them. However, Waluigi is just tedious to unlock, while Dry Bones is such a ludicrous choice it makes you wonder what Nintendo was thinking, putting this character instead of Koopa Troopa, Paratroopa, Boo, Shy Guy, another Kong, Noki, Petey Pirhana or dozens of other possible characters that people actually care about or would want. Even some fans of Mario weren't even aware of who Dry Bones was. An even worse choice could be R.O.B., who most players haven't even heard of in the first place. There are also more karts to unlock, but you have to go through the 150 CC cups and get Gold Trophies all around, a far from easy task that is more work than it's worth. Most extras aren't even worth the trouble and can't give enough incentive. Terrible choice of extras and unlockables, and could have easily been done so much better, if only Nintendo would try or just listen to their fanbase a little more.
I have to say that Mario Kart was not nearly the greatest game on the DS. In fact, of all the DS games I own, this has to be one of my least favorites. The DS has plenty to offer, but I found Mario Kart DS to be a simply over hyped game that the hype will wear off of within a few months. I would recommend this game, ONLY, and I repeat, ONLY IF you have the Nintendo WiFi connection, or plenty of friends to play with. Because without other people to join you, this is definitely not a worthwhile game and is possibly one of the worst DS games for a person playing alone.
Mario Kart DS was solely designed for the multiplayer modes, which is nice in theory, but not everyone can get a WiFi Connection, and not everyone knows people with this game. A huge percentage of gamers are those who have no choice but to play alone, and to purchase this title would be a disappointment to them. Nintendo really should have tried to give this game something for the people playing alone at home, but obviously they didn't try. I can honestly say, for the single player, Mario Kart DS offers almost nothing, and that's a terrible thing.
Reviewer's Rating: 2 - Poor
Originally Posted: 01/13/06, Updated 03/27/06
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