Review by Mighty Oracle
"The legacy of Mario Kart still lives on in this fun new portable for the DS!"
Nintendo, long ago, released on the SNES, a racing game called Mario Kart. Mario Kart was a success, and moved to other systems, including the N64, GCN, GBA, and finally the DS (the DS release was, obviously, Mario Kart DS). If you are a fan of the Mario Kart series, or a racing game fan, or if you are just a casual gamer looking for a fun game, then I suggest you give Mario Kart DS a try! Anyway, on with the review.
Gameplay - 10/10
This is where the game shines. The gameplay is like any other racing game, only with a few differences; you throw items at the computer opponents or human opponents online or in multiplayer. You would not do that in any other racing game, but you do in this one. Other aspects of gameplay include, of course, racing around the different courses in the game while throwing items at the computer and/or human opponents in an attempt to be the first player to reach the finish line. Whoever reaches the finish line first wins 10 points in offline mode, and 10 points in online mode. If you come in 1st place on all four courses in online mode, or in the entire cup, which consists of four courses, on offline mode, you'll have a total of 40 points at the end of the cup offline. Note that it also works the same way online; you'll have 40 points at the end of those four races if you come in 1st on all of them. There are also obstacles in the courses, such as Thwomps, which are from previous Mario games, not just Mario Kart. And there are also helpful things in some of the courses, such as speed tiles, which, when you drive over them, you get a speed boost. There are sometimes muddy roads which will slow you down and everything, but it's never too hard or too easy (if the going gets tough, it's more annoying than anything), it's just fun.
The items I spoke of earlier in the review appear in "?" blocks. When you drive through a ? block, you will get a random item. Each are effective in their own way. Also, keep in mind that there are more than just speed tiles for helpful things in the courses, such as shortcuts, and even techniques. About the techniques I just spoke of; there are four different techniques in the game that will help you claim 1st place during a race. Drafting is the first one. When used, you will gain a sudden boost of speed (See the FAQs to see how to do this trick, as well as the other tricks). Drifting is the second one, which, when performed, will make you drift left or right, depending on which direction you are holding on the D-Pad at the time you perform the drift. Then there's Power Sliding, which is basically performed the same way as a drift, except blue sparks, then red sparks, will come from your kart and you will gain a sudden boost of speed. Finally, there's Snaking, which a lot of people online tend to abuse, but I won't get into that. Snaking is where you move left and right like a snake, and Snaking tends to make you go farther a lot faster. It's a useful technique, but not useful to abuse, as it can be annoying if abused. Keep in mind that you can select from Mario himself as your racer, or other Mario characters.
There are tons of characters available, such as Princess Toadstool, Toad, and of course, Mario and Luigi. Bowser is even playable in this game! There are more characters than what I just mentioned, so don't fret if you are thinking that that's all there is, because it's not. Each character comes with three karts (you can unlock some more later), each with their own stats and unique looks. There are also other game modes besides Grand Prix and online mode that you can play. There is multiplayer, which, if your friend has his own DS, and one of you has the Mario Kart DS cartridge, you two can play wirelessly on your two DS's against each other in a race! Then there's Shine Battle and Balloon Battle in multiplayer, which are also quite fun. There is even a Time Trial mode that you can play in this game to try and better your times in the courses! Overall, the gameplay is pretty much flawless, and gets easily a 10 out of 10.
Graphics - 10/10
The graphics are awesome, especially for graphics on a portable system. The graphics of the courses are extremely well done, with almost no flaws, if any at all. The racers look awesome as well, and just like Mario characters, and even the other characters that aren't Mario characters look good and very well modeled. The graphics of the entire game are very well done, and it looks like Nintendo took their time with the graphics in this game. A definite 10 out of 10.
Sound/Audio - 8/10
The sound in this game is nothing mind blowing, trust me. Some of the sounds are pretty good, though, but nothing out of the ordinary. As far as the music comes, this is why this section gets an 8 out of 10. The music is very good and very well done. The music in a lot of the courses I enjoy, and this is no lie and I'm not trying to exaggerate even the slightest bit. This is my true opinion on the music in the courses. While the music in other parts of the game aside from the courses may not be impressive (because they're not), the music in the courses are a different story, and that's what prompted me to give this section an 8 out of 10.
Difficulty - 8/10
The challenge in this game is very apparent, especially in online mode, and in 150cc in offline mode. When playing in 150cc mode in offline mode, I noticed that the computer opponents use items on you a lot more on 150cc than they do in 100cc and 50cc, and I also noticed that it's just overall harder to win in 100cc and 150cc than in 50cc, because the courses seem to get harder, because the computer opponents use items on you. It's also not just the items that make it hard; it's just harder period on 100cc and 150cc. I went through 50cc with ease, but 100cc and 150cc are hard, and 150cc is sometimes overwhelming, but each mode gives you practice and makes you better, depending on your current level of skill. In online mode, on the other hand, the difficulty varies. I beat one person twice in a row, but other times, I've had trouble. The difficulty is sometimes high in online mode, because a lot of people tend to abuse Snaking, which can absorb the fun of online play quite fast. Basically, some players are good, some are just learning, and aren't as good (I'm one of them), and the difficulty of online mode can vary, but it's usually challenging to hard. Also, the game itself is pretty difficult, which makes it all the more fun.
Story - 1/10
There is no story in this game, you just race against other players or computer opponents in an attempt to be the first to reach the finish line.
Replay Value - 8/10
The replay value in this game is quite high, because you can unlock stuff in offline mode by completing certain things. You can unlock different characters, different karts, and even different courses. After you unlock everything, online mode adds greatly to the replay value, just as long as you don't meet people who abuse Snaking (I'm not trying to offend anyone, but it's true). The replay value is definitely present in this game, and the online mode is what really adds to it, in my opinion.
Overall - 10/10
The overall gameplay in this game is awesome, with almost no flaws, if any. The graphics in this game are superior, especially considering most portable games have horrible graphics. The sound wasn't so hot, but some of it was alright, and sometimes pretty good. The music, on the other hand, was awesome. The music in the courses, I found, were extremely well done, and didn't appear to be rushed to me. The difficulty in this game is also very present, especially in 150cc and in online mode, which makes it all the more fun. There is no story in this game, as you know, because it's just a racing game. Try unlocking everything in offline mode, as that adds to the replay value of the game. After that, try playing online mode, as that adds greatly to the replay value of the game. Heck, if it were not for online mode, I'd probably not play this game again for a long time, if ever. Overall, when you combine all aspects of the game together, the game gets an overall 10 out of 10.
Buy or Rent
I don't think you can rent this game, so just try buying this game. Believe me, it's worth the money. You can buy it for $30-40 USD at retailers such as Wal-Mart, or even EBGames or your mall probably carries it. Just buy it, because it's awesome!
And that's the end of the review. I hope you enjoyed this review, and I hope it gave anyone who was wanting to try it an opinion on whether or not they should get it.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 01/19/06, Updated 01/19/06
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