Mario Kart DS
By Zach Patterson Wednesday, 21 Feb 2007

I almost dread writing this review because I already know that most people that have a DS have Mario Kart, and most everyone knows it is great. In other words, there’s a good chance I’m already preaching to the converted here. With that in mind, and considering the scope of the game, I’ll try to keep this brief.

This iteration of Mario Kart, developed by the same crew that brought us Mario Kart 64, is quite possibly the best game in the series. Instead of trying to emulate any certain game in the series, it takes all of them and incorporates all the best elements from each one. It even includes choice tracks from each game from the SNES version up to the Gamecube version.

Graphically, this game is really pretty, looking a little less sharp than the Gamecube one, but the characters and environments are very animated nonetheless. The music varies from forgettable to reprises of famous Mario and Mario Kart tunes to the slightly aggravating (the waiting to connect to wifi music get old pretty fast), but overall it’s not bad. Control is great, perhaps the best the series has had. It has the tightness of Double Dash, but it also features a tweaked powerslide and the return of the hop from the older games.

What I really like about this game is the full-featuredness of it. It is a well thought out and well rounded game. There is just the right amount of challenge without it being frustrating, and it has plenty of hidden material as incentives for multiple playthroughs. Not that you need much incentive, because the tracks are great. The old tracks span every game, and the new ones vary from themes of new and old Mario games to new crazy ideas (Waluigi Pinball!). The game also has a nice mission mode which serves as a tutorial at first, but later helps you truly master all of the moves in the game. In some ways, I find it very remiscent of the mini-games in Crazy Taxi, where after you had completed them, you found yourself markedly better at the game. The multiplayer modes are also rather varied and fun for up to 8 people wireless. The battle mode makes a return, which is still pretty fun, but as opposed to Double Dash’s battle mode which was one of its best features, this one just never seemed to pull me in. To date, while I have over 800 matches in race, I have only 9 matches in battle. What’s there is fun, but the racing portion is the real star.

In addition, a Wifi mode has also been added which allows you to play 4 others via the internet (racing only). For being the first title with internet support, this game plays pretty great on it. There are some issues that should have been fixed regarding drop-outs and snaking, but overall, it is a fun and easy way to play friends online. The game has however become a hotbed for cheaters and heavy snakers in recent months, so be sure to play with people you know. It’s much more fun that way anyway.

As I mentioned briefly, the practice of snaking (powersliding back and forth on straightaways to gain more speed over your opponent to get large leads) is very annoying and creates an unfair advantage for people who choose not to do it or simply are new to the game. In future games, this should be changed to not be allowed, as it makes racing head to head or online very frustrating sometimes. Of all the things this game did right, this is one exploit that makes the game completely unfun when facing others online or “expert” players. Some people argue whether it should be allowed or not, but my personal feeling is that if it’s not something everyone can do and it is obviously exploiting a feature in the game (powersliding, in this instance), it’s definitely not something that should be in there.

Regardless of that annoyance, the game is extremely well rounded and easily one of the best games for the DS. If you want a game you can easily play with friends for hours and hours, this is certainly that game. Just make sure they play fair.


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