Review by RPGs R Awesome
"A Brilliant Achievement"
Mario Kart DS is a wonderful new game from Nintendo. It is the epitome of what a handheld game should be. Gorgeous graphics, fun gameplay, excellent sound, a large variety of tracks, online play, mission mode... the list goes on. Be prepared to be playing your Nintendo DS for a long time to come.
Sleek and Sexy
The graphics are flawless. They are far and away the best graphics on the Nintendo DS yet. The character models are detailed and vibrant, with no character looking similar to another. The tracks are varied and unique. The environments are entirely different from one track to the next. The hazards look good, as well. I will go ahead and say it; Mario Kart DS has better graphics than Mario Kart 64.
The sound in Mario Kart DS is intriguing and full of nostalgia. When playing the Retro Courses, the music is almost identical to that of previous games in the series. It adds a lot of nostalgia to the game, bringing back memories of past experiences with Mario Kart games. The sound effects are great, with different sounds for every item, kart, and racer. That's right: Every character has some voiceovers for when an opponent hits an item of yours or when you hit an opponent's item. The music for the new tracks is catchy and upbeat, really getting you in the mood for a good race.
Let us face it, there is no story for Mario Kart. The game is a racing game, where a story is not very common.
One of the best things about Mario Kart DS is the variety of characters and karts. There are twelve racers (including the unlocked ones) and over 45 karts. This allows for a different experience every time you play. There are 32 tracks to play, so that adds a lot to the variety. Besides, you can also hook up with your friends and have a battle royale!
Wow. That one word sums up the entire experience of Mario Kart DS. The gameplay is fantastic, unrivaled in almost every handheld game ever made. First off, there is Single Player mode. The three main modes in here are Grand Prix, Time Trials, and Mission Mode. Grand Prix features eight cups, with four tracks in each. With this grand total of 32 tracks, you really get a lot of value for your money. The eight cups are split up into two groups, Nitro and Retro. The Nitro courses are brand new to the game, with loads of originality and fun to be had. The Retro courses are remakes of tracks from previous Mario Kart games. That means that there are four tracks from each of the four previous Mario Karts, Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo, Mario Kart Super Circuit on the Game Boy Advance, Mario Kart 64 on the Nintendo 64, and Mario Kart Double Dash!! on the Nintendo Gamecube. While the tracks that were chosen are not necessarily the best in each game, they remain faithful to the game in which the track originated, while feeling totally new and different.
The Objective of Grand Prix mode is to place first overall at the end of four races. There are three difficulty modes, 50CC, 100CC, and 150CC. These numbers refer to the different engine speeds on each kart. Since 150CC is the biggest engine, the karts will be faster. If you make a mistake here, it could cost you the entire race. The new tracks are amazing and contain a lot of variety, ranging from a pinball machine, a hectic castle, a snowy highway, and even inside a clock! This change of environments works well for Mario Kart DS, keeping it remaining fresh throughout.
The next mode is Time Trial mode. In Time Trial mode, you choose a racer and a kart and try to set a record for the fastest completion time on a certain track. If you complete each race fast enough, the Staff Ghosts will be unlocked, creating a challenge like no other. Be prepared to get your ass handed to you. It is no easy feat beating these staff ghosts.
The last main mode in Single Player is Mission Mode. In Mission Mode, you get a set character to control, while you complete missions. These missions may range from collecting coins, beating bosses, racing an opponent and winning, completing a certain amount of power slides in one lap, and much more. There are over 65 missions in total, and the mission difficulty keeps increasing as you play. The addition of this mode really adds a lot to Mario Kart DS and makes it that much more appeasing to potential purchasers.
Friends or Foes?
Mario Kart DS also has two Multiplayer modes: Local Multiplayer and Online. To play the limited Local Multiplayer, only one person must own the game, but courses are more limited than if everyone has their own copy of the game. Online is amazing and is the first game Nintendo has decided to make online. There are quite a few flaws with it, but it is still lots of fun. By using Wi-Fi, you can connector to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, also known as Nintendo WFC. To utilize this mode, you must own a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector (which I own) or a wireless router. Additionally, stores across the world are allowing you to play online, like McDonalds and Macs. It is great fun playing with people worldwide, but there are many flaws to weigh it down.
First, people can leave at any time so they don't get a loss on their record. This is unfortunate because you could be winning by a large amount, and then other players will leave so they can keep a clean record. It is better for people to create their friends list with people who do not quit. Second, snaking is overused way too much and makes the game less enjoyable. The game is much more enjoyable without it. Thirdly, adding friends to your friends list requires you to talk to people offline. This is a pain to get a person's friend code and add it, and it is also a pain for them to also get yours. This leads in to the fourth flaw: there is no communication in this game, whatsoever. This detracts from the experience as a whole, but makes it easier to not be distracted from the race. Finally, you can only play twenty of the courses online, as well as in Local Multiplayer. Some of the best tracks in the entire game are unavailable, so it really is a shame that the other tracks were not added to the online mode, as well. Overall, the online mode is evidently flawed, but does not detract from the overall experience.
The touch screen is used for showing who has what items, what place everybody is in, and a map of the track. This shows you of upcoming items and allows you to think strategically. Also, the menus are slick and well-made. The controls in Mario Kart DS are great. The buttons are mapped out well and it is easy to control the kart you drive in. The items are easy to use and power sliding has never been better.
Mario Kart DS features some of the best replayability seen on the Nintendo DS. With all the unlockable characters and karts, you will be coming back for a long time to come. Additionally, there is online mode, which is quite fun, and also you can get a three star rank on all the missions and Grand Prix cups. This is a lot easier said than done. Also, you can try to beat the Staff Ghosts in Time Trial. Amazing replayability is contained within this small game cart.
Overall, Mario Kart DS is far and away the best DS game. It is fun, original, unique, exciting, beautiful, and addictive. You owe it to yourself to pick it up.
+Lots of unlockables
-Online mode is limited
-Mission mode could have had a story tied into it.
10 out of 10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/05/05, Updated 08/24/06
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