TrackMania DS Hands-On

The long-running PC arcade racing series is coming to a DS near you.

While the PC has long been known as a safe haven for hardcore racing sims, the TrackMania series has been sticking to its over-the-top arcade roots since its inception back in 2004. The series--known as much for its loopy physics as its looping, rollercoaster courses--has seen a number of sequels on the PC. With the upcoming TrackMania DS, you'll finally get a chance to check out the racing action in handheld form. We recently had a chance to check out the game to see how the portable version of the long-running series compares to its PC roots.

Extreme loops and fast cars--it must be a TrackMania game.

As with the PC TrackMania games, TrackMania DS is all about piloting your tiny cars through increasingly complicated tracks. In many of the single-player game modes, you're going up against other cars on the track. Don't worry about crashing into your opponents though--TrackMania races play more like time trials. While you can't run into your opponent, you can--and most certainly will--run off the tracks. The challenge in the game comes from learning the sometimes labyrinthine course layouts and dealing with the many obstacles that come your way.

Controls in TrackMania DS are as simple as can be--the A button is gas and the B button is brakes. The X and Y buttons will reset your car either at the very beginning of the race or at the last checkpoint, which can be a useful tactic, depending on the type of race you are running.

There's a nice variety of game modes in TrackMania DS, including a few that you might not expect to see in a racing game. In addition to straightforward race modes, such as practice, there are choices like Platform, which challenges players to get from point A to point B on a very technical course in as few tries as possible. Unlike many of the race modes in TrackMania, there's no time clock in Platform mode. Instead, the idea is to simply get to the end of the race--thanks to the tricky track designs, however, that isn't as easy as it sounds. Blind hills topped off with gaping holes in the center of the landing area are tough enough, but when you add barriers in the middle of the road and thin rails that you have to drive over during some sections, you've got tracks with little to know room for error. As the name implies, these events are more of a platforming experience than a typical race.

Another interesting mode is Puzzle, which acts as a tutorial of sorts for the game's very flexible track-building toolset. The idea in Puzzle is to build a track to connect a beginning and end point using the limited number of tiles presented to you in each puzzle level. You pull tiles by simply dragging and dropping them. You can also adjust their size and orientation any way you like. The challenge in Puzzle mode isn't merely connecting the start and end points; the tracks you create have to be drivable by your car. For instance, in one Puzzle track we tried, we had to connect two points where the endpoint was elevated above the start line. In addition to a few ramp tiles, we were given a pair of boost tiles to use, which we found were crucial in allowing the car to actually get up the ramps. Once you figure out the flexibility of the tools in Puzzle mode, you can take those skills and apply them to the larger track-creation tools.

Many of the tracks in TrackMania DS were created by hardcore fans of the PC series, and their imagination shows through clearly. With plenty of loops, jump sections, and tricky switchbacks, the courses in TrackMania will keep you busy. Some of the beginning tracks will only take a few seconds to learn--but as you make your way through the game, you'll unlock increasingly more complex courses across three different locations: stadium (a futuristic locale with open-wheeled racers), desert (featuring bumpy, off-road courses and rugged-looking rides), and rally (also off-road, with some courses running around what appeared to be a medieval castle).

Don't like the built-in course? Try the course editor in TrackMania DS and create one of your own.

While you'll have lots to do in the single-player game of TrackMania DS, if you've got some race-minded, DS-owning friends, you'll have that much more to do. The game will support up to eight players in both single- and multicard modes. It will also feature traditional modes, such as Championship, where you earn points for finishing high, as well as time-trial modes where you and your competitors will have a certain amount of time to set the lowest time on a particular track, running it as many times as you like. Finally, you'll be able to share created tracks with your friends (though the developers haven't finalized things, we were told to expect between 35 and 50 save slots for tracks in the game).

It isn't the prettiest game in the world, but then, TrackMania has always been about creating and driving the most insane courses possible. In that sense, TrackMania DS seems to be following that model closely. Look for TrackMania DS this fall and more information on the game in the coming months.

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Discussion

20 comments
nintendofan2050
nintendofan2050

Its good but the only flaw ive seen to it is that cars dont exist. I mean you cant crash with cars, what makes it like (DUN DUN DUN) TThe worst game ever... BIG RIGSSS!!!! Anyways this game is cool. 8/10

moonunitenar
moonunitenar

This is a fantastic game. I loved it. The only downside is that memory restrictions stop you from creating ridiculously complex tracks in the track editor. You can only use a certain number of track pieces.

RTS____EX
RTS____EX

F-Zero X wasnt pretty too, i want F-Zero on DS... but for the wait, im getting this

AjayRaz
AjayRaz

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

calvinx6
calvinx6

Definately getting this one.

Gameboy2k
Gameboy2k

I wont complain. But, after playing the PC's version... this one hurts my eyes. I will give it a shot, but get the PC game. You can get the Stadium track version for free.

Oblivion470
Oblivion470

To me, this game has priority over Guitar Hero World Tour! I JUST CAN'T WAIT for this! I love trackmania, and now it's coming to the damn DS! I never expected that.

bluezy
bluezy

TM is awesome, this sounds like it'll be just as great. And single-card multiplayer. Yes.

zerander
zerander

Looks pretty good for DS for sure.

Paulitis
Paulitis

OMG the graphix look so cool ffor DS :o

sure2not
sure2not

DUDE!!!!!!!! YES!!!!!!!!

beanofengland
beanofengland

i think track mania is class and i'm looking forward to seeing how it translates to ds, cos it was just a pick up and play game, do one or two tricky courses then go do something else, this will work perfectly on the ds, heres hopin they pull it off

PuR3SkiLLZ3525
PuR3SkiLLZ3525

I had TM Sunrise on PC and that was great so looking forward to see how this turns out.

AjayRaz
AjayRaz

man, I love trackmania! there's no disappoint in this title, especially 8 player single card!

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

I love the original PC game. Used to play for hours on end on all those wacky user created tracks. I even played someone from the same school as me too. :P

Nintendo_Man
Nintendo_Man moderator

As i big fan of the PC versions i was hyping this. Until i heard it has no online racing, instant fail for the most important reason why Trackmania is great. In an interview they said they wanted to cater to the DS demographic so they have shafted hardcore gamers (plus Nadeo is not involved in development).

bignice12
bignice12

Still pick it up on the computer, its always gonna be superior there but Trackmania DS on the go seems like fun.

just4yoshi
just4yoshi

Almost picked it up for the computer... Looking forward to seeing how this one turns out :)