Review by painindaglavin
"An amazing series + Online play + Tons of new features = Instant Win"
There's no doubt that the original Super Mario Kart for the SNES had essentially created a new genre of games, the kart racer. But after many attempts to dethrone what most considered the king, few could even hold a candle to it's greatness. Nintendo's next installments in the series on the N64, Gamecube, and GBA all helped Super Mario Kart become arguably one of the greatest game series's ever.
Then one day, Nintendo announced that the new DS version of its fine series would be the first game to use the Nintendo Wifi Connection. If you listened closely, you could hear the cries of joy from fanboys (like your's truly) everywhere who had waited for this day to come. When the release day finally came, you could once again hear the fanboys screaming, but this time it was due to their surprise at finding someone who could actually beat them at their favorite game.
But enough talk, let's get to the review.
Graphics - 9/10
When you start your first race, you might be surprised at the fairly impressive 3d graphics that your dual screened friend throws at you. Though clearly the graphics don't match up to that of Mario Kart: Double Dash for the Gamecube, they are good enough that most normal humans wouldn't have too many complaints. The retro courses from the SNES look very nice in 3d, and the few Gamecube courses don't look half bad themselves
Characters are also very well designed, and look much better in game than they do in most of the screenshots you find online. Carts also look great in game, and some of the carts just plain look badass. The emblems that you can create in the game also look very good on every cart that you put them on, so don't have any worries on how your Link drawing will look on Wario's racer.
Sound - 10/10
Each of the 16 retro courses retains their original music, and the music for the 16 new courses is very catchy. I doubt you'll ever feel like turning the sound off. Each of the sounds from the items and characters are very nice sounding.
Thankfully online play doesn't allow voice chat, so you won't have to hear the annoying voices of 10 year olds arguing with their mothers about chocolate milk, or the voices of 16 year old kids swearing and screaming into the microphone.
Gameplay - 10/10
Like all of the Mario Kart games, the races against the computer are fairly easy, but can provide some intense moments if you get too lazy. If you ever beat or get tired of the 4 Grand Prix modes, you can always challenge the Staff Ghosts on Time Trial mode, try to earn a 3 star ranking on all of the 63 missions, or even try an 8-player battle against AI controlled characters, or against your friends.
Each one of these modes provides intense finishes, crazy moments, and the perfect way to show off how much better you are than all of your friends. And even if they don't have the game, they can still play as Shy Guy(who really isn't that bad). If you can somehow manage to get 8 people together to play a battle match, the action is just absolutely insane. People will be punching, tackling, biting, and screaming at each other for hours. Some words of advice: make sure you don't let one of those grubby idiots touch your DS after you hit them with a shell, or else expect your top screen to be snapped off in a second.
Online Mode - 8/10
If you are like me(ie: an MKDS pro <_<), then you'll most likely find yourself in the Online Mode of MKDS. Defeating people from around the world feels incredibly gratifying. You can always make a custom emblem to show off to the racers behind you, destroy your friends online, or even find players from Japan and show them which country is better. Online mode is unbelievably fun, and entering tournaments, building up your record, and winning by less than a split second will keep your brain on the edge of exploding.
Now after saying so much about how great Online Mode is, let me sadly point out the mistakes. First of all, no battle mode. Not that I ever would have played it, but I know plenty of people who would, and still hold a grudge against Nintendo for keeping it out. Also, only 20 of the courses are playable online, and many of the best ones are not included. Finding 4 people to play with seems like it takes forever(and most of the time, you can't even do it), and when you finally do start the race, most of the people who fall behind disconnect, robbing you of a hard earned win. Not to mention that the Rivals mode, which is meant to pit you against players close to you in skill, doesn't really work.
If you plan on playing online however, make sure you master the technique known as snaking. For more information on snaking, make sure you check out the Mario Kart DS message board here at GameFAQs. Most of the people there are kind, and willing to help.
Replay Value - 10/10
I can't imagine ever wanting to stop playing this game. There's characters, carts, and new races to unlock. And you can always beat every staff ghost on time trial mode, or get a 3 star rating on every mission. You could also try earning a 3 star rating on every grand prix circuit. And if you finally beat all that, there's unlimited FREE online play, and since owning nublets never gets old, you should have no problem getting some fun out of the game every time you play it.
If you feel like you have a good record online(generally over 100 wins, and probably about 3 times more wins than losses) you can try looking on the Mario Kart DS board here on GameFAQs and see if there are any tournaments going on. Or you can also try your luck against some of the impossible to beat Mario Kart experts on the message board.
Touch Screen Use - 7/10
Although there isn't a whole lot you can do by touching the screen, the 2 maps that the second screen can display are very useful, and can warn you of fake item blocks, shells coming towards you, or even your fellow racers getting ready to pass you. It isn't the most innovative use of the second screen ever, but it definitely gets the job done.
Also, being able to draw your custom emblems with the touch screen can be a fun new experience, although your stylus generally won't let you make Picassoesque paintings.
Overall - 10/10
Though the game has a few flaws, its extremely easy to drive right past those, and find the amazingness that is Mario Kart DS. Every single DS owner should own this game. The quick, yet intense races are addicting, and players of all skill levels should have no problem finding a challenge in this brilliant game. This game is certainly one of the best games of all time.
Fans of the other games in the series will not be disappointed at all, and will take to the game quite easily. After a few short races to get used to the controls, a former Mario Karter should be able to compete online quite easily, and in a short time be able to take first 9 times out of 10.
If you're a newbie to the whole Mario Kart scene, it may be a good idea to try a few grand prix's on 50cc and 100cc before even attempting online play. Even if you're able to beat the AI quite easily on those difficulties, don't be surprised if you lose most of your first races online. But with a little bit of practice, patience, and effort, you too can become one of the MKDS elite.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 02/27/06
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