The game grows and grows as one gradually discover the depth Nintendo has put into it…
mortenjohs wrote this review on .
Like TrackMania for the PC, this game offers no realistic racing experience. At all. For those of you not familiar with the Mario Kart-series, here’s a small conceptual outline; Mario and his friends and foes from various other games, like Wario, Luigi, Toad, Bowser and Donkey Kong, compete in racing go-carts against each others. To help them, and make life for each the competition less bearable, they have a wide range of weapons - from classic turbo-boosts and missiles to ghosts, shrink-rays and squids. Before each race you choose a character and a cart for him. All the carts have different caracteristics like handling, acceleration, weigth and speed, so each of them fit a different playing style. To add to the arcade feel to the game one can do power slides in curves by jumping into them. Fun!
The most appealing single player mode is Grand Prix. This consists of eigth series each of four circuits. 16 of the circuits are brand new - designed spesially for the DS-version of the game. These ones are my favorites. (The Flower-series is just excellent!) The other 16 are a collection of the best tracks from previous Mario Kart-games. (It is interesting to see how level design has changed throughout history by necessity of hardware limitations. The SNES and GBA-tracks are totally flat with very basic graphics, the N64- and Gamecube-tracks incorporate hills and more flashy themes…)
You also have a mission-mode (where you have to collect so and so many coins in so and so many seconds or bump the big bad bomb into the water using turbo boosts, for example), a battle mode (two battle oriented playmodes against the AI, or preferably; friends) and a time-trial mode (where you can race your or other’s ghosts - transferable via wifi).
Then there’s the online mode. Nintendo WiFi-Connection (NWFC) is really a snap to set up if your router is supported and you haven’t secured your network with WPA (WEP works fine, though - a questinable choice, I must say). Once online one can search for friends using so called “friend codes” (assosiated with each copy of the Mario Kart) or let your opponents be chosen automaticly for you by NWFC either by continent, by skill level or just anyone in the world. This is all done very simple. When (or if) it works, that is. I have to say that in 75%, or so, of my tries, this has been a failure. Let’s hope these are problems that the newborn NWFC will outgrow…
Another thing that might turn some players off is that winning a race sometimes feels a bit too much like a matter of luck. The power-ups one get are determined randomly (semi-dependent on your position in the race and which cart you play) and can really change the outcome of a race. This is part of the concept of fun in an arcade racer like this.
Mario Kart DS does use most of the bells and whistles of the DS; the two screens (The top one for the main action and one for a overhead map of the track. The squid-wapon temporarily puts black ink in your top screen, so you’ll have to steer mainly by the map. Nice!), the wifivity, the colourful 3D-graphics, stereo sounds, the touch screen (to draw small logos for your carts and to manouver in the menus) and even the microphone (solely to inflate balloons in one of the battle-modes).
All in all this is a game that will instantly appeal to most people, due to it’s easy access gameplay, but the game grows and grows as one gradually discover the depth Nintendo has put into it…