"The best and freshest Mario Kart"

Mario Kart DS

Was this to be the killer app everyone was waiting for on our tomb like Nintendo DS' or would this become one of those grim reaper titles that we would bury amongst the pile of the forgotten. One thing was for certain; the Nintendo DS needed something, anything to lift it of its feet. It's 1 year of existence had been cursed by a poor launch, delays, and some un-interesting third party games in the middle. Mario Kart DS was the Nintendo game every boy, girl and adolescent teenager had been waiting for, would it fail or would it succeed in such blinding colours that I would be left spinning around a room, walking into the wall.

With little hesitation I can say, this game fricken rocks. Forget killer ap, this is one of the best games of 2005 and despite what you've heard about online play it's as fun as ever before.

A lot has happened since the days of 2-d spirits and a little thing called Mode 7. When the SNES was still plugged into your T.V screen you could have been sure to find at least a copy of Super Mario Kart inserted into the console at least once all over the world. It was a fresh, exciting game that pitted our Nintendo heroes together in a series of races on rich, exciting tracks. Many games and many third parties have since followed suite with this concept, familiar titles being Mario Tennis and Crash Racing. None however have been able to portray the same charm that the Mario Kart series possesses. It wasn't all smooth sailing for Mario Kart however. In this reviewers personal opinion, Mario Kart Double Dash! And Super Circuit almost brought him to tears with disappointment. Double Dash! Was short, boring and though it had new, supposed cool innovative features they all got stale after a while. Circuit just plain out sucked. Boring track design, choppy controls and poor graphics. Mario Kart fans were begging for old school, they were begging for a Mario Kart 64 style game. Finally, we got it. Not only that we almost got 16 of the best tracks from the first four games and 16 new, quite frankly one of the coolest things to have ever happened. Sure, some of the 16 classic tracks are bad but I'd rather them there than not.

Your probably wondering, what makes this game so great. So what if it has 32 tracks, Circuit had 40. So what if it has new features, so did Double Dash. What this game does though that separates it from the others is that it does it right. The new tracks are fun and wonderfully designed, each having something unique on it that make them as enjoyable as the last. Where it be the power sliding craziness that is Yoshi Falls or the intense rolling ball action of Waluigi's Pinball, each new tracks has something unique to it. Some of the tracks can be a bit boring after a while, one such being Figure 8 Circuit which I despise playing online. Tracks like Delfino Plaza, Wario Stadium and power sliders dream Rainbow Ride however are what will bring up back to this game time after time. Not only do we have 16 new tracks Nintendo has also pumped over 16 classic tracks into the game. Some are good (Moo Moo Farm), some are bad (Baby Park) and some are just plain ugly (Yoshi Circuit) but they're a nice addition never the less. Overall Nintendo has topped themselves but having 32 wonderful tracks packed into just one Mario Kart game.

The modes this game features are near orgasmic. Though some don't differ from other Mario Kart games that much Nintendo has taken a leaf out of it's other Mario games to include so called mini games. For Mario Kart they come in the enjoyable and yet sometimes frustrating appearance of the Mission Mode in which you as the player do over 64 challenges to harden your skills. The challenges are pre determined as well are the characters you play as, tracks played on etc and the variety of missions are few and far between. They still differ from one another however and can ensure a enjoyable few hours if you just go for the One star ranks. Go for higher and you're in for a lifetime of anger, hissy fits and eventually, bragging rights. As I did mention, ranks are back but so far they appear to be less complex and harder to obtain as they did in Super Circuit. Rank in Missions is decided through time where as rank in the Grand Prix mode, which this time features 8 cups appears to be made up of time, item usage and the ability to stay on the blasted track. Getting all 3 stars on 50cc is easy, getting 3 stars on 150cc is a nightmare that still haunts my sleep. Along with your new Mission mode and classic Grand Prix mode you can also throw Time Trials, Vs and Battle Mode into the mix. Time Trials is simple enough, race 3 laps around the map for the best time, challenge staff ghosts (not easy) and trade with friends. Vs involves you and a number of friends competing in a number of races to see who is ultimately the better driver, or in the case of Mario Kart, the most insane, whacked out driver. Battle has been expanded at last allowing you to play against 7 other bots if there are no friends handy. This is made even more enjoyable with two Battle modes, the first being the classic Balloon Battle and the newest called Shine Runners which involves you collecting as many shines as possible before the time runs out. These modes offer more of a sentimental value than anything else and are quite welcomed with open arms, expanding the replay ability of this game.

If you hadn't realised so far, I love this game. Despite some anger spats over the unbelievably lame 150cc mode where blue shells come in eights and no matter how far ahead you are with only two paces to go until the finishing line you will come in seventh place the game is an overall, enjoyable package that would make any Mario Kart or Nintendo fan for that matter giddy. Not forgetting over 36 unique karts and 4 unlockable characters, 2 of which make there first appearance in a Mario Kart game and tons of stuff to do you would have thought that that would be it. Nintendo have put together a massive collection of things to do, see, touch and unlock and from the sounds of it have done it right. Well you would be right except for one last little thing, online play.

Also known as the Nintendo Wifi Connection this is the first time that Nintendo have successfully launched their business onto the online market. Mario Kart was to be there first ever-online title and The first NWFC title. There were high hopes over this new mode and despite some criticism over the lack of features Mario Kart DS online is a delightful romp. Basically once you have hooked up to the online service which is free for any Nintendo games you can choose from up to four options that will then hook you up into a four player match. These options include World Wide which pits you against anyone, anywhere, anytime or Friends, which will hook you up to any friends currently looking for some vs. action. A few minutes later you are then in action, competing against up to and including 3 other players. The races will be hot and heavy, fast and furious and all those other fancy slangs that could be used. Some latency issues are noticeable however with some players hoping all over the screen but in most cases this has very little overall affect to the game play. Despite a lack of options, Battle mode and customisability with Friends the online experience for Nintendo's first NWFC game is not only fun but something that people will be playing for months to come.

The game has beautiful visuals, slightly above that of the 64 version. Character models are now fully rendered in 3-D and though they do look a little choppy they look light years ahead of the spirite versions in Mario Kart 64. Textures are once again a bit lifeless but detail from a distance on many of the tracks is very good. Nothing to complain about with the sounds, there normally usually isn't. Retro tracks have been remixed and sound just as good as ever before and newer tracks have catchy tunes, despite a few boring ones. For a Nintendo DS game the graphics and sound are top notch and you will get no complaints for this end.

So after all that dribble you are probably think, why is it that makes this game so good in this reviewer's opinion. I will admit, I very rarely give a game over 9 points and consider anything above a 7 a must buy. But the reason this game scores so highly is because unlike recent games I've played that have had to include some kind of gimmicky feature or award system to pull me back, Mario Kart is just fun. No matter who you are and how defined your gaming skills are, Mario Kart DS can be picked up by anyone but still requires that little extra bit of focus for those willing to master this game. If a game can make me have fun whenever I play it without ever making me think, why am I doing this, then that is definitely worth a thousand points in my book. Forget the kiddy appearance; forget the disappointment that was Double Dash, Mario Kart DS IS the killer app for the Nintendo DS and quite possibly, the killer app for Nintendo this year. If you don't have it, get it.

Well, what are you doing, get off your backside and get it now, go, go, go.

[Gameplay] 10
[Graphics] 9
[Tilt] 10
[Sound] 9
[Value] 10

[Overall] 9.6


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/28/05


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