Mario Kart DS (DS) review
"The Mario Kart franchise has always been a stalwart in Nintendo's lineup of games. Featuring all of the iconic Nintendo characters in zany karts, a party-like spin is what makes Mario Kart great. While it still takes skill to be good, an assortment of powerups can be used to vault you from last to first in a matter of seconds. This all sounds familiar, (and it is) but what makes this game stand out is its astounding graphics, portability, and (FINALLY!!) online play. "
The Mario Kart franchise has always been a stalwart in Nintendo's lineup of games. Featuring all of the iconic Nintendo characters in zany karts, a party-like spin is what makes Mario Kart great. While it still takes skill to be good, an assortment of powerups can be used to vault you from last to first in a matter of seconds. This all sounds familiar, (and it is) but what makes this game stand out is its astounding graphics, portability, and (FINALLY!!) online play.
Before prying open your DS to try out this installment, first realize that youíre about to experience, without a doubt, the best Mario Kart to date. The first thing that struck me as amazing was the sound through the dual speakers. When you use headphones, every little nuance, whether it is the all-powerful blue shell whizzing fluently by your head or the flooring motor of another kart flying by your kart with the help of a speed-boosting mushroom, the sound in this game lends the experience a resounding sense of realism and immersion.
But the sound merely compliments the top-notch gameplay. While some complain about the DSís lack of an analog nub, Mario Kart DS still has incredibly tight, intuitive controls unprecedented when in comparison with other racers. Every character has different karts at their disposal, and every one controls differently with weight, speed, handling, and acceleration all coming into factor, among others. Pure excitement accompanies every single race because whereas most racers donít provide excitement when youíre in the lead, MKDS keeps you on your toes, knowing that an unsuspecting red homing shell could be right on your butt as you speak.
A new gameplay tweak, while small, gives the game a lot more spice to every race. When youíre hot on the tail of someone, if you stay right up on his or her butt you can get an additional boost, which the game calls drafting. The countless amount of times in which I used this tactic to speed on by for the win at the end brings a widespread smile to my face.
If you remember all the great tracks in previous Mario Kart games for the SNES, N64, and GCN, youíll be happy to know that a plethora of the more classic ones are back in all their colorful glory. And colorful is a perfect word to describe MKDSís graphics. Being fully 3-D, vibrant with life, and surprisingly detailed, every aspect of the visuals is pleasing to the eye. Special effects are amazing, like when the bomb, one of the new items in the game, explodes or when your screen gets splurged with ink, making it hard to even know where youíre going on the track.
And since the game is so dependant on items within the game to diversify the experience, itís only natural to assume that multiplayer plays a large part. The game allows you to rally up seven of your friends and play eight player races or battles with one game card (this feature is a godsend). Seeing that I have over ten people at my school with a DS, this feature alone makes multiplayer an absolute riot. And if this isnít the case, there are bots available, allowing you to play multiplayer balloon battles or shine running sprints by yourself. You can even adjust their smarts, keeping all ranges of players happy.
To add to the list of new gameplay additions, tack on the new Mission Mode. This mode forces you to do a variety of things in a certain amount of time, like doing five boost-drifts, and even presents boss battles at the end similar to the bosses of Mario games.
Having said all these things, what makes this game tick is how well everything is executed. Every facet of the game is proficient, and has those qualities that make it easy to learn, and tough to master. And after taking your driving prowess online to test the waters, youíll be pushed over the edge and will easily come to the realization that this game is nearly flawless. Entertainment is a video gameís goal, Mario Kart DS has it in spades. Trumping this game, even on the consoles, will be a seemingly insurmountable task for Nintendo, and is a clear indication of how utterly awesome it truly is.
Community review by Linkamoto (November 22, 2005)
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