Mario Kart DS  (Nintendo DS, 2005) Reviews

Mario Kart DS (Nintendo DS, 2005)

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Solid game, offline or on...

Jan 29, 2006 (Updated Jan 30, 2006)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Online play Solid Offline Play Deep Offline Modes Graphically strong

Cons:Harsh steering Some Cheap Online Play Some bad connections

The Bottom Line: With online play and solid offline play, Mario Kart DS is the best game on the DS to date. I RECOMMEND!!!

Overall - Mario Kart DS not only continues the streak of excellent Mario Kart games, but also takes the fun racing online. With 32 courses, 16 new and 16 old, missions, and online play, Mario Kart DS is full of value. Though the steering can be rather harsh at first, the game still lacks difficulty at even the highest level. The levels are beautiful and complex, in classic Mario Kart fashion.

Gameplay - The Mario Kart series has come a long way in terms of graphics, but the series fun gameplay has always remained. Each race in Mario Kart DS features eight racers through three laps. Racing is simple, with one button to go and the control pad to turn. Pressing the R-button will start a drift turn, which, though losing accuracy, can be used for a turbo boost around corners. The drift-turns do not need to be perfected, but are a nice help when it comes to winning the harder races. Items, ranging from shells to bomb-ombs to bananas, can be fired with another button and can drastically change the races, no matter if it benefits or hurts the player. Since the racing is simple, proper item usage becomes the decisive factor in races. Mario Kart DS factors in item usage without sacrificing any of the racing simplicity. Mario Kart DS continues the streak of fun, simple gameplay.

Mario Kart DS features 32 courses, 16 of which are brand new. The new courses range from the standard Bowser’s Castle and Rainbow Road to Luigi’s Mansion and a Delfino Square. All the courses are multi-tier and complex. Very few levels are flat circuits; this really helps to keep the game alive. The old courses range from SNES to GC courses. I was rather disappointed in the selection of retro courses, since the chosen courses were rather flat. It seemed to me that the lamest courses were chosen. This combination of old, as disappointing as the selection is, and new, help to create a nice combination of courses that any gamer can enjoy.

With new features, but not new to the series, is the battle mode. Part of the dissapointment regarding the previous Mario Kart games, is that the fun battle mode is only for multiplayer. Mario Kart DS changes all that. Mario Kart DS now allows the usage of bots in the battle mode. While this will in no way replace the original racing, it is a nice change of pace. The typical balloon battle mode returns, but with a new twist. While players still need to destroy enemy balloons by the usage of items, they now need to inflate their own balloons. By blowing into the microphone, which is harder than it sounds, players inflate their reserves of balloons. The problem is that there is no sound method to blowing up balloons. What will work once, will not work the next time. By blowing up the balloons, I often lost focus on the battle. While this is no problem against bots, this will lose the matches against friends. The other style of play in battle mode is “Shine Runners.” The goal in Shine Runners is to gather as many shines (stars) before time is up. Players with the lowest star total in the round will be eliminated. Since characters who are damaged will lose their shines to a the same location, the key to winning Shine Runners is simply memorization. Though the battles aren’t very deep, the addition of bots makes the battle mode worthy of attention.

The brand-new mission mode is too simple to be effective. The missions are simple tasks like “go through all the gates” or “beat this character to the end”. Rarely do the missions get more complicated than that. There are six levels of missions, each with a boss at the end. The bosses are basically like a giant game in battle mode. The mission mode is too short when compared to the other modes.

The time-trial mode returns with no major surprises. Players after finishing their runs have the option of racing their ghost. Time-trial mode has no other twists outside of that and thus is likely to be ignored. The vs.-mode has certainly grown. From being the only mode of play for three or more players to encompassing all the races in the game against bots. In vs.-mode, players can literally create their own grand-prix against bots as they change difficulty and speed. The amount of variables is a nice touch to the game. I played this mode more than any other. I enjoyed racing against bots on any course that I chose.

It would be a crime to not talk about the online play. The built-in WiFi connection on the DS can be used in two ways: Multiplayer or Nintendo WiFi Connection. The multiplayer mode is the short range online mode. Players can engage in races if they are within around one hundred feet of one another. As long as one player has a game pak, there can be a multiplayer race. The only drawback is that the courses and characters are limited; however, as downloadable play, this is impressive. Up to eight players can play in the multiplayer mode. Stats and friends can be tracked, adding a nice personal feel to the game. Nintendo WiFi Connection is an amazing accomplishment. From wireless networks, players can race anyone from the world. Players can choose to race solely based on region, friends, or just go all out against the world. Online mode is not perfect however. There can only be four racers per match and many players “snake” online. “Snaking” takes advantage of the fact that many players can easily catch up in races and the speed of power slides. By combining power slides, the top speed is achieved without any lag. This takes away from the skill of the game and not to mention the fun.

Accessing the networks can be incredibly easy if you have a current wireless network. Mario Kart DS will lead you through all the steps. There have been bad cases (Friends) in which Mario Kart DS doesn’t recognize the network, but for the most part, connection is successful. Other networks can be accessed at local hotspots like at Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.

The graphics are below that of the N64, but not by far. No matter what the course, they are laid out well and beautifully. The backgrounds are all rendered beautifully, no matter what the course. The characters are nice looking, from the backside. From the front is a different story. Bowser and Donkey Kong, for example, look terrible; thankfully, that part is rarely seen. The graphics are solid throughout the entire game and are an amazing acheivement on the DS.

The sound is sharp, even for the limited speakers of the DS. The music has that funky Mario Kart feel. The new course soundtracks fit in nicely with their environment and the rest of the game. The sound effects are on the money, but at times are slightly exaggerated and obnoxious, especially since the DS has a problem with volume control.

Mario Kart DS surpasses its predecessors, thanks to its online play. The gameplay is still simple and fun, but with more depth than previous Mario Karts. The addition of bots to Vs and battle mode add much needed depth to the game. The online play, while frustrating at times, is a lovely addition to the game, adding hours of play. Mario Kart DS is visually strong. Mario Kart DS, is a must own for Nintendo DS owners. This is the game that drew me into the DS. With online play and solid offline play, Mario Kart DS is perhaps the best game on the DS to date.

Recommend this product? Yes

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