Review by light_rock_zz
"Mario Kart goes Double Screen, and so does the fun!"
Mario Kart. One of the most outstanding racing games out there in the stores. It has come a long way, I don't even know when it started, but there are several other Mario Kart games, like MK Double Dash, MK Super Circuit and MK 64. And right now it has come to the DS! So now you don't need to bring one whole big heck of electronics around just to play this game!
Excellent gameplay, that's all I got to say. In every racing game, there's always an element of surprise behind every race, every battle. You'll never know what is going to happen next during a race or battle. The items can make all the difference in being the first, or last. That's the fun of having items, or powers in the game, unlike pure racing, for example Gran Turismo; when you're first, you're gonna remain first almost throughout the race, no one can really stop you in your tracks, of course unless you made a stupid mistake...
Getting bored of racing the old way? Put in more elements of fun! Try inputting some AR cheats! Race at 300-cc while you see all those slow pokes who desperately try and speed up and catch you! Then here comes the second part, to race carefully without falling too many times! Set yourself a challenge! Lap everybody once! Perform some insane jumping stunts that springs you so ridiculously high! Try to fall back nicely on the track, good luck! No AR cheats? Don't worry! You are not out of the fun! More challenges await you! What about going backwards and grab the nearest item box and trying to catch up them again? Or maybe at the starting line, fall of the track 8 times before officially starting the race!
It's Mario Kart, obviously there's much content.More importantly, it's everlasting. The Grand Prix, which has been around for a long time, sees you racing against 7 other A.I. racers! Easy? All right, you may be right at first---but in the higher speed classes (By the way Mario Kart DS is divided into 3 speed classes, 50cc, 100cc and 150cc. There's a 150cc mirror too that flips the course), be prepared for extreme mayhem! At first, in the lower speeds, the A.I. seems like cakewalk. Thought that higher speeds means just finishing faster? No! Higher speeds also means higher difficulty, faster and more furious battles. The A.I.s get seem faster, smarter and more aggressive! Items being thrown at you more often will be no surprise. But this isn't about racing like mad to the finish at the higher difficulties. You need strategy. Every item counts, even the lousiest ones. You'll be surprised, it could save you at the last minute! Watch for those red shells! Look out for ways to exploit your opponents. Show no mercy. Push them off the cliff if needed. It gets a little taxing, but you'll get the hang of it. And remember your shortcuts, they are going to be become handy at these points of time.
Are you worried about the rubberband A.I.s that people claim to be extremely unfair? No worries! There's more to Mario Kart DS! Up next, here comes the time trials! Needless to say, you're aiming for the best time in the race. Complete 3 or 5 laps of a course, as quickly as possible! Here the rubberband A.I.s, or at least so what they claim, is now missing from the picture! You'll have a little more peace, but you can go crazy over just time trials. Even the slightest bump on the wall while doing a mini-turbo which will ruin it makes you furious and re-start the run. You'll feel like wanting to thrash your game or DS to the bin, I know, but once you get the perfect record, you can boast off to your friends and feel the sense of triumph. Good luck getting that perfect record, and start mastering all that skills of mini-turbo and drifting! Or maybe master the skills of the professional: Snaking. Shortcuts could make all the difference in scoring below your targets, better know them well! Make full use of what you've been given, which is all that red mushrooms. Thought the clock is your only enemy? Nope. You still got more. You got yourself to challenge. When you get the best timing, the game will save the racing data, and then you could select that data, race against it, and try to outrun it! Find new methods, new shortcuts in your desperate attempt to beat it! And you still got more, the staff ghost! You unlock them by achieving below a certain time. Try and beat all of them, and after you do so, go a step further by trying to outrun them by at maybe at least a second! Then you can consider yourself a time trial expert!
Thought time trials were boring? More awaits you. Introducing VS mode and Battle Mode! VS mode is just the same as Grand Prix, just that this time it's fun and not competition. Aside from the usual speed classes, there's a bonus, a new mode. I can't tell you, wait till you finish the bottom row of cups in 150cc, with all gold. You'll be astonished. Many things seem so different from before, yet there's actually only one single change. If VS mode isn't your cup of tea, here comes Battle Mode, which further splits into twp: Balloon Battle and Shine Runners.
In Balloon Battle, you charge into the battlefield, grab all those items, and mass eliminate all your rivals on the other team. You are only going to expect shells flying all over the place, and traps laid at every corner of the field. The situation will tend to get messy, so watch your backs! Your balloons are your lives, so treasure them! If you get hit, you will lose a balloon. You also lose a balloon if you fall off the field. Left with one balloon? Try blowing into the microphone or holding select and you would realize that you have another life! All balloons gone means you're gone. So you can start to employ different methods to win a battle. Charging in with one balloon, making a campsite with traps all around, eliminating everyone only when they are weak are just some examples of having fun battling. The battle will end once all the members of one team is gone. Or if you're playing one man for himself, then you'll be left on the field.
In Shine Runners, there will be 9 shines scattered all over the field. Your objective is to grab as much shines as you can. But if you get the most shines, don't get too arrogant yet. You can lose a shine by getting hit by an item. People with the least shines will be eliminated at the end of a certain time limit. And other than a messy battle full of shells and traps, what you are going to witness is karts desperately zooming all over the place to collect any shines they can ever find, either from the eliminated people or shines left behind by people who are hit. Better know how to speed from place to place quickly, otherwise you are going to be eliminated in a matter of time. The match is over when all the members of one team is eliminated, unless of course you're playing one man by himself.
All right, all right, Grand Prix, VS mode, Battle mode, sounds like they've been repeated all the time. So anything new in Mario Kart DS? Of course. Here comes the mission mode! Here, you get to attempt a specified task. For example, collect some coins, or reach the finish line before someone. And don't think that racing with someone is going to be that easy. You going to expect the track to change. Maybe you race backwards. Or maybe you have to take the long way. And finally when you complete the 8 missions in the set, the boss stage appears. It ain't no cakewalk, don't take it too lightly! Complete this boss stage, the next set of missions unveils itself. Some missions are great fun, especially the boss stages, so have fun!
What's a game without customization? It's an essential aspect of games that must be included, to at least a moderate extent. Mario Kart DS caters to your needs, and provides the amount just right. After all, Mario Kart games are known to be simple, isn't it? You have different karts and characters to play around with, so try some different combinations. For example, put Mario on Yoshi's kart, Egg 1. See the stats and keep trying different combinations to see which one fits you best. That isn't all. You could customize the way your race is going to be in the VS mode and battle mode. Sick of picking the track yourself? Let the game pick for you. Wanna race in a systematic way? No problem. You could create teams as well, though I do find it a problem that you have to go back and forth to create the perfect team in mind. In wireless multiplayer mode, you could slowly swap between teams to get your perfect team, but in single player, it's impossible. Racing as a team means helping your team-mates! You need to slow down and help out those poor souls in your team who are lagging behind. Dish out immense torture to the opposing team and keep them behind! It works like one man for himself, just that all the racers in a team adds up for the team points. That's pretty cool, but nothing's cooler than having the ability to make your very own emblem! It will be proudly displayed at the front of your kart during racing and battling both offline and online. The paint program works like Microsoft Paint, so it isn't too hard to make them. One problem is, there are no templates, so it's difficult to make a customized existing character emblem.
They are great, not that perfect, but good enough. They are basically put together by what they call tectonic plates, you could see square plates that make up the whole model of a character, even tracks. Not a bad attempt, enough to satisfy your hunger. Graphics, after all, is not all that matters in a game. The backgrounds are 2-D: while they are also made of tectonic plates that surround the field, but it's hardly noticeable that it looks splendid. The interface of the menu are pretty basic, not anything too fanciful, but you'll agree with me that it's up to standard, the simple way of art.
The music, it fits into each track very well. The theme music is appropriate to every track, the title and menu selection music is nice too. They're pretty catchy too. If you play the tracks that were imported from previous Mario Kart games (SNES, MK 64, MK Super Circuit and MK Double Dash), they sound a little different, but gives you that nostalgic feeling if you've played the series before. The sounds of the characters sound as cute as ever. The sounds that occur while racing, battling, are most of the time, cute.
First of all, there's two kinds of it: The game calls it "Normal" and "Simple". Don't need to be confused, the game explains the modes well enough. Let's touch on "Simple" first. Basically it isn't that great as you realize it includes people without the Game Card, so there of course, will be limitations. The people without the Game Card only get this character Shy Guy (Although he is actually quite good). But the main bad thing is the courses offered to you is VERY limited. Just eight tracks, and three battle arenas. Now that's little. But if you got enough Game Cards for everyone, that would be the way to go. You get every one of the 32 tracks and every battle arena. Everyone gets a choice of what they want, although you need to unlock them first in your Game Card. But it's worth while, and very addictive. It can last you hours, that you can even forget it's time to sleep.
It's an excellent game, but lacks a few features. Nintendo COULD have extended some of the features, for example, a battle mode competition, just like VS to Grand Prix. Also, the new mode that I mentioned in the VS mode could be extended to the rest of the speed classes. Since they had thought of that concept, why not extend it more? Mario Kart also misses a reverse mode, which is present in a couple of other racing games, for example WipEout Pulse. There doesn't seem to be enough items to play around with as well. (Just look at the insane amount of items in the arcade mode: You may not even remember all their functions!)
Still, this game is a must-have for anyone who have played racing games before. Don't rent it, BUY IT. Recommend this game to your racing fans, NOW. Quick, race to the nearest store (unfortunately, you use a kart for that, I wish you could, but that's prohibited...), dig up its shelves and find for this game. And don't hesitate, put it on the counter's desk and make your payment immediately. If not, hurry, go and order it online on sites like Amazon.
P.S. If you're still worried about the rubberband A.I., ignore that, you've got more to play without them in the Grand Prix. Don't listen to those that argue about them, just download a game save includes all cups in the Grand Prix pre-completed. If you always want a feel of the rubberband A.I.'s power, you could come back to Grand Prix. Any time. At least you have all the tracks, karts and characters to play around with. Speechless, my people who curse the game JUST because of the rubberband A.I.s? =)
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/03/09, Updated 01/26/12
Game Release: Mario Kart DS (US, 11/14/05)
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