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Review – Mario Kart DS (NDS)

Mario Kart DS
Nintendo DS – Nintendo
1 to 8 players (4 max on WiFi)

You’d think it would be easier to review games that you like than to review games you don’t like. Trust me, it’s not. When you review a game you don’t like, you point out all its glaring flaws. You poke a few jokes at its expense, you tell everyone to avoid it, simple. The process for reviewing a good game is similar except you have to be careful to not come off like some sort of deluded fan boy. Also you have to accept that you’re likely just reiterating what others have said, even if you’ve never heard them say it.

With that said, Mario Kart DS, is THE game to own for the Nintendo DS at the moment. It takes advantage of the best features of the DS and uses them to its fullest. On the other hand, some of these features seem like cheating. Primarily, the map. A popular feature for DS games it to show an in game map on the second screen. In the past you had to buy a strategy guide, now the important part of the guide is built in. Still, a lot of racing games show a map of some sort, Mario Kart’s is just a bit more elaborate.

That’s pretty much the only bad thing I can think of with this title. I suppose the controls aren’t perfect (Stick works 100% better than a D-pad for this series) but it’s not horribly bad.

That gives us two pseudo negative remarks against it, and those are really stretching it. On with the good! One thing I really like is the reuse of old tracks. There is an entire cup series based on old tracks. Half the tracks in the game are reused. It’s really pretty neat seeing those old SNES tracks re-imagined in “real” 3D.

There is also a new battle mode in this game (note, I have not played Double Dash, it’s possible this feature is in DD). In addition to the classic “Destroy the opponent’s balloons” there is a sort of king of the hill battle royal mission where you collect stars. Getting hit causes you to loose stars and periodically the person with the least stars is dropped.

The best feature is of course, WiFi multiplayer. No more are we hampered by multiplaying within line of site. Mario Kart DS lets you play against anyone with a DS and an internet connection. The lag seems to be more or less non existent as well, though it can take a few minutes to find opponents. The implementation of the multiplayer is decent but could use a little work. Something that let you manually join and pick opponents would be nicer when it comes to playing against friends. The game does let you trade “friend codes” though and gives priority to friends also searching for games.

The only thing you can do on WiFi though is race. Playing battle mode would have been a really nice feature as I prefer it when playing Kart Multiplayer.

The game also includes a rather interesting mission mode. This is essentially a Mario Kart version of the license tests from Gran Turismo, without of course the gruelingly impossible times to beat. These challenges range from “drive through the numbered gates” to “collect XX coins” to “defeat Y number of Pokeys/Cheep Cheeps/Moles”. There are at least 6 “worlds” or sets of 8 missions with a boss battle at the end of each world. I had originally written his part of the game off as really lame but recently I’ve found that it’s a lot of fun and easy to play through.

And that’s what this game is. A lot of fun. It’s got appear for almost anyone who plays games for being “cutesy but not too so characters” and racing and well balanced fun. There is one thing Nintendo will always do well, and that’s make games. Mario in any form is a classic everyone can always enjoy and Mario Kart DS is no exception.

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