"An OK offline game , but TERRIBLE online game filled with cheaters."

Mario Kart DS should have been a great game. Seeing as how this game was in development for over 3 years, I was expecting something really special. If this same game had been released last year, I would have probably given it a 9, but with all the time in development, there's really nothing special to show. When I first saw the DS at E3 2004, this game is the reason I had to have a DS. The graphics looked great, great online play was promised, and great single player was promised. I'm really not seeing anything special in any of these, and the online is not even playable.

Graphics: 7/10
Well, they are fully 3D, but everything is blurry and poorly rendered. There are no load times which is nice, but again with the amount of time in development these graphics should have been MUCH, MUCH better. Not much else I can say here.

Controls: 10/10
This is really the only part of the game that is the quality I was expecting. The controls are extremly responsive, everything is laid out PERFECTLY so that it will work extremly well for left or right handers. I was worried about how Mario Kart was going to work with the D-Pad, but Nintendo did a GREAT, GREAT job here.

Offline Gameplay:5/10
The battle mode lets you play with bots!!!! Sounds great, right? Well it would be great if the AI wasn't so dang stupid. On easy mode, it is physically IMPOSSIBLE to lose (unless you don't hit accellerate at all during the game). At the begining, EVERY computer player will spin out. If you're in first place EVERY item you pick up WILL be a banana. And as I said, the computer will ensure that you win, which may sound cool, except the computer players will keep getting all the best items, so every few seconds you are spinning out. And those bananas you get.... the computer makes no attempt to dodge them. Each player was programmed ONE path for each map, and will take that path no matter which item lays there. Then there's hard mode.... if you're in first place, the AI will just get random speed boosts. If you're in last place, same thing. It is sooooo hard to win one of these races the game isn't fun. And I'm not complaining that the game is hard. I LOVE hard games. But it needs to be fair. In the instructions, it says items are distrubted randomly. This couldnt be farther from the truth. The game is so unfair. You can lead a whole race, and be up by a half a lap, and then you will get hit by about 3 items and get in fifth place. Just not fair at all. There are new items, but they take away from the game more than they add. They are just too effective, and make the game even less balanced.

Online Gameplay: 0/10 (Updated, 8/31/06)
Look, there is no chat feature, no real friends feature, and no way to get into a game quickly. Despite all this, what really kills the online is the cheaters. Nintendo released a flawed game, and they didn't even include a system to update the game if necessary. First, many people are standbying on Nintendo WIFI. That means you are at a standstill for 30 seconds, while the host keeps moving along the map. When the connection comes back, you are stopped where you were, and the host has already won. Second, about half the people on the WIFI service, are using a cheating method called snaking. It allows you to move double speed along the whole track. Of course Nintendo says they deliberately put this in the game, but everybody knows they are just saying that so they don't have to fix the game, and mail fixed copies to everybody. Anyways, its not possible to have fun in the online games, and once you beat the crappy single player, you might as well throw the game away.

Audio:7/10
No new audio was added for this game. Ported maps use their old songs, and new maps use a song from an old map. Character noises are great as usual, but getting OLD. Not much else to say here.

Overall: 4/10
What is included in the game is extremly fun. But this was Nintendo's main "claim to fame" when they introduced the DS. They kept delaying and delaying. I was expecting something extrodinary. What I got was basically Mario Kart GBA with a pretty basic online mode added, and a TINY bit of graphical enhancments. Is it worth buying? Yes. But what killed the game is the cheaters online, and Nintendo's refusal to do anything about it. With Micorosoft and Sony now in the gaming online market, Nintendo needs to do something fast, or they are going to be out of business faster than you can beleive.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 11/20/05, Updated 08/31/06


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