Review by gamer_boy997
"Mario Kart DS runs a little bit bumpy, but very good, race."
Mario Kart DS is simply another racing game starring Mario and all his pals (and enemies), that was released for the Nintendo DS in late 2005. If it's simply another racing game of Mario and his pals and enemies, does that mean this game is great?
There is no story for this game, sadly. None of the previous Mario Kart games had a story either, but this could have broken the chain. Oh well, you can't expect a story from a racing game.
The controls are simple. Use the control pad to steer, a button to accelerate, and so on. It shouldn't take you long at all to learn them. The mic is even used in one small part of the game. The touch screen however, slightly lacks its use. Sure, you use it to switch map screens, or select options from the menu, but other than that, you don't really use it. Some people might be a little disappointed in this, but the easily learned controls make up for it.
The gameplay is where all the good stuff comes in. There are a total of thirty-two tracks, sixteen being introduced, and sixteen coming from the previous Mario Kart games. Each track has its own gimmicks. Some you have to stay on the track or you will fall off of it and lose time. Others might have severe hazards in the middle of the track trying to block your way. There is lots of variety when it comes to the tracks.
There are several characters to choose from, and along with that, several karts. Each kart is different in stats and appearance. In addition, you can unlock even more characters and karts as you process through the game.
Each race has a total of eight racers. When the race starts, you can hold the accelerate button at the right time for a speed boost. You will have to drive a certain amount of laps to complete the race. You will have to try and to complete the race before anyone else (you hopefully knew that, right?). You will be timed, and at the end of the race, you will be told how long the race took you, and how long each lap took you.
In order to proceed through the game, you will have to go through Grand Prixes, or sets of four tracks. Depending on how well you do on each track, you will get a certain amount of points. After the four tracks, the final results will be revealed. Even if you don't get first, you will get a trophy for second or third, and a rank. Your best trophy and rank will be recorded. Each Grand Prix can also be played at a different difficulty as you process through the game.
There is a special VS mode, where you can simply race through any track or have it be picked at random, select how many wins you have to get or how many races you have to go through (you can even keep racing until you get bored), select the CPU difficulty, and even race in teams!
In Time Trials, you can pick a certain character, kart, and track, and try to complete the race as fast as you can along with a certain amount of mushrooms. If you get a high enough time, you can unlock and try to beat the staff ghost data. They are very difficult, but possible, to beat.
In Battle mode, you have the same settings as VS mode, but then you select whether or not you want to do a Balloon Battle, where you use your strategic skills to attack other players with items, or Shine runners, where you collect Shine Sprites and try to keep them safe by not being attacked. Both can be played on a number of tracks made specialy for Battle mode.
There is even an extra Missions mode. In this mode, you can't select your character, kart, or track, but they're different for each mission. Some missions may involve racing against characters, but most involve racing against the clock! For example, in some missions you have to drive through tires in a certain order in a certain amount of time. You will be ranked depending on how fast you did it. There are also bossfights as well.
While racing, however, there are a couple flaws that ruin the difficulty in different ways. There are item boxes scattered throughout the track, and you can grab them to get items that make things interesting. People in last place usually get better items then the people in first place. Near first place, the items require some strategy and skill, which is nice. For example, there is a banana peel that you can drop behind you or throw infront of you. You might need to decide a good place where it goes. This sounds great, but near last place, things are different. The items barely involve strategy and skill, and they easily push you up a few places. One item that was added to this Mario Kart was a bullet bill. This is the coolest, but most fixed item there is. All you have to do is press the button, and you turn in to a bullet bill that goes very fast and crashes into other people. What makes it really bad is that you don't even have to steer, it goes through the track for you. Sure, these items may give you hope, but they make the difficulty slightly easy.
Another flaw is that on the bottom screen, there is a map of the track. This isn't too bad, but what makes the game a little bit easier is the fact that it tells you what place everyone is in and also what item they are holding. You couldn't do this in previous Mario Kart games. One item this majorly applies to is a blue shell, which you throw and simply flies all the way to the person in first place and stuns them. If you're in first place and you see some one with a blue shell, you will know to simply back up and let someone get infront of you. This cheap system can be used for other items as well, and makes the difficulty slightly easier as well.
The graphics are standard for the DS. Actually, it all depends on what track you are racing on. If you are racing on a track that is new to Mario Kart, the graphics are standard. If you are riding on a track from a previous Mario Kart, the graphics will look a bit redone, but some things are kept in. This isn't a bad thing however. Nintendo just wants us to bring back that taste of previous Mario Kart games is all. The graphics are simply normal and average overall.
The sound is standard for the DS as well. You can tell what the sound sounds like, and there isn't anything annoying. The karts have nice sounds that apply to them, and they are quite clear for a portable system.
There is a lot of music in the game. Music for the old tracks is kept in, and new tracks get new music. Some of the music is quite solid and enjoyable, and there isn't any really bad music I can thing of. Since there is a lot of music, you will probably find a favorite or two.
Multiplayer mode can be played with a friend nearby, or online via Wi-Fi connection. Multiplayer with a friend is simply Battle mode and VS mode, and online play is simply VS mode. The Multiplayer mode might add some playing to this game depending on if your friends are DS players or not.
How long the game will last you depends on what kind of person you are. If you want to complete all the Grand Prixes, missions, get your fastest times on Time Trials, play it out on VS mode and Battle mode, and if you have a lot of friends who are DS owners, this game will last you awhile. If you just want to play the Grand Prixes, missions, and a little bit of the other things, this game will still last you awhile, just not as long.
Although, this game may have a couple of flaws in the gameplay and lacks the touch screen use, everything else is great: The non-flaw parts of gameplay, the easily learned controls, the large amount of nice music, and so on. If you have a DS, this game is worth a buy, period.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/19/09
Game Release: Mario Kart DS (US, 11/14/05)
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