Review by andymancan1

Reviewed: 08/14/06

So addictive that you'll forget that you have a life

PROS: Amazing DS graphics; easy-to-learn gameplay; wide selection of tracks; some classic tracks; addictive; great selection of items; ONLINE MULTIPLAYER

CONS: AI isn’t the best; having to leave the house to play online





And Mario moves into the lead! Yoshi’s right behind him and DK is coming on strong. Peach and Wario follow; Toad is behind them. Bowser is seventh and Luigi has engine problems…

OK, ax the horserace announcer. There’s nothing of the sort in this game.

MarioKart DS is clearly the best game for Nintendo’s Dual Screen. It’s got everything. The graphics are gorgeous for the DS, and the music will be stuck in your head until you hear "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown". I’ve actually hummed a couple of these tunes. They all fit well with their respective tracks, and make this feel less like a racing game.

MarioKart is also the clear winner when it comes to racing games. Everything else I’ve played doesn’t even come close to the series (well, exclude the arcade MarioKart…). MarioKart DS has 32 courses in all. Only 16 of them are new. The other 16 come from the great installments of the past, even the Super Nintendo game. The SNES courses are lovingly re-rendered in 3D, and they all look amazing. Those courses are lacking, however, in the item and length departments. The N64 courses are pretty much the same that they were before. Of course they included Choco Mountain and Frappe Snowland, but where the hell is Wario Stadium 64? And we get Banshee Boardwalk, which was my least favorite course on the N64 game, instead. That blows. Banshee Boardwalk is one of the most boring courses on this game. However, there is a new Wario Stadium course, which doesn’t live up to the original. The GBA courses are all decent, even though I haven’t played that one, they’re all well-done here. The GameCube courses have been toned down to fit the DS. Yoshi’s Island doesn’t look much like its GameCube counterpart, and you can’t go up the sides of Mushroom Bridge. And why is Baby Park on here? It was awesome on the GameCube, but here it completely sucks because the lack of special items and two-man mode (it’s boring on the DS). Overall, they picked several courses correctly, but most fans of the series that I’ve talked to would’ve liked to see Wario Stadium 64.

And the new courses are incredible. Fifteen out of the sixteen are all very good (there’s one where cars drive on the wrong side of the road… that’s the one that sucks). Fan favorites include Delfino Square (from Sunshine), Airship Fortress, Luigi’s Mansion, and Wailuigi Pinball. A racecourse in a pinball machine is totally awesome, dude! (Why the hell am I speaking like that?) There are several others that will entertain you over and over for months. Yes, I mean months. There are several different tracks, ranging from beaches and gardens to clocks and deserts. Of course there’s Rainbow Road. So don’t worry.

Obviously, this game is the most addictive thing that I’ve ever experienced. I played for over three months before I tired of the game and went to get Metroid Prime: Hunters (which was kind of a letdown for me). After I beat Hunters, I jumped right back into playing MarioKart and it was just as much fun as the first time. This game will make you lose your life for a while, and sometimes, when you’re in the car, you’ll totally ignore who’s driving just because you’re playing this awesome game.

The controls here couldn’t be any simpler. Press A to accelerate and B to brake, press L or X to fire items (aim using the D-Pad), and D-Up to move forward. Use the R button to drift around tight corners. It may seem weird using a D-Pad to steer, but you’ll be completely accustomed to it in 10 minutes or less, making it feel like MarioKart N64 all over again.

The items are what you’d expect, plus a couple additional ones to boot. There are red shells, green shells, those damn flying blue spiny shells, mushrooms, gold mushrooms, stars, Bob-ombs, bananas, fake item blocks, and lightning. Also, Boos are back, and can make you aggravated at times. There are also two new items here. Blooper squids squirt ink at everyone ahead of you, but the ink can easily be shaken off by a mushroom boost or a speed booster. If you’re at the back of the pack, you can get a Bullet Bill. Bill is like Baby Mario’s “Chompy” (his Chain Chomp. My sister named him.) in MarioKart: Double Dash. A Bullet Bill can knock any other karts out of the way as he goes at a high speed. But don’t count on him lasting too long. Overall, the item selection is incredible, and usage is the key to victory.

This game has plenty of additions to the single-player game. In addition to doubling the amount of tracks, there is the mission mode. There are several intuitive missions here, which are set on the game’s courses, that usually involve coin collecting, destroying things, and racing through gates under time pressure. There are six sets of missions, and each set has eight missions and a boss. Some of these bosses have been seen before, but not in this way. You have to beat Goomboss in a race, collect coins while avoiding King Boo, and shove shells into these sand hand things. They’re all fun, and are all replayable. Also, there is a 1-player battle mode with 7 computers, but it isn’t very good. It does feature some classic battle maps (Block Fort and Pipe Plaza), but it’s not as fun as everything else that this game has to offer.

Another awesome thing about this game is that there are several unlockables. At first, you’ll start off with only four of the eight cups and eight of the twelve characters. Once you beat the previous cup, you can unlock the next one in the same engine class (there are three of those). Once you beat the four new cups or the four classic cups, you unlock something, usually a new character or kart options. This is great. Eventually, you’ll unlock the Mirror Cup, in which you can do any of the courses backward. This feels like it adds 32 new courses to the game, making it even more impressive. Once you unlock everything, you can quit doing the regular Grand Prix mode and head to VS mode, where you can choose the engine class, difficulty, and even add a team option. Then, you get to pick which courses you want to do. This way, you don’t have to play Banshee Boardwalk ever again unless some ignorant sibling erases your file or your cat eats your game card (one of my friends kicked his cat when it did just that).

Of course, there is a downside of MarioKart: DS. The AI isn’t the greatest. Enemies will often hold onto an item and use it after they’ve run through another item block. In VS mode, when you have teams set, it doesn’t matter to the other racers. I’ve been pelted with red shells by my own teammates, so the AI is obviously flawed. You can’t pick your team, either, so it’s totally random. Overall, these are far from being a letdown, because the game is still a lot of fun.

One more awesome thing about this game is the Wi-Fi capabilities. These are incredible. You can race with three other actual racers, which is better than having to deal with the lousy AI. However, making the trip out to Rocky Rococo’s isn’t the greatest thing, but at least you can get pizza. I hope that, in the future, the handhelds can connect wirelessly to a broadband router so I can play in the comforts of my own room. But, the online play is worth a trip to Rocky’s. OK, I’m hungry for pizza now…

Overall, this game is awesome. It’s clearly the best game on the DS, better than the overhyped games that I’ve played (e.g. Metroid Prime Hunters). This game will be glued to your head for months to come, and you’ll even stop playing your PS2 for a while because this game is so addictive… and so fun. It’s pretty much flawless- the AI is the only thing working against it, and the AI isn’t that horrible, either. If you have a DS but not this game, go get it. In fact, buying a DS just for this game is worth it. It’s because of games like this that the DS has left the PSP in the dust. So, whoever you are, make sure this game is in your collection. MarioKart DS is amazing, addictive, impressive, and a 10 out of 10.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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