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“Mario Kart is a special something Nintendo tends to...”

Written on: 23/10/2006 by Takahiro (36 reviews written)

Good Points
Online Mario Kart
Solid, great graphics
Loads of new content in both single and multiplayer

Bad Points
Feels a little slow, even compared to the Gamecube's Double Dash

General Comments
Mario Kart is a special something Nintendo tends to only release once on each console, so when there's talk of a new console, you know a Mario Kart is never far behind, and that proved true for the DS. Ever since Super Mario Kart on the SNES, the series have always provided one of the best multiplayer games on a Nintendo system, although each game in the series has a worthwhile single player they truly excel when it comes to multiplayer, and Mario Kart DS goes one further by being the first Mario Kart playable online, and it even has single-kart link up, although this is restricted to only 4 playable tracks.

The online mode, whilst simplistic is fantastic fun. Some of the tracks are missing from the online mode, and sadly include some of the best, but playing against human characters from around the world beats playing AI controlled characters any day, and most importantly it's free!

And even for those of you without the ability to connect your DS online and have no one to play wirelessly with, Mario Kart DS also brings the most complete single player mode seen yet too. As well as the usual 50cc, 100cc and 150cc modes (ie easy, normal and hard settings), you now also get challenge mode, in which you're set a usually short task of collecting coins in a time limit or some daft ones such as winning a race in reverse.

The actual gameplay itself is arguably the best yet in any Mario Kart game. The graphics are similar to the N64 version, but the Gamecube tracks are still instantly recognisable. My only complaint about the gameplay is that it feels a little slow, even on 150cc, and that the online mode suffers from the occasional lag, but the biggest concern there is 'quitters'; generally as you're about to win a race the losing player(s) simply turns off their DS, thus ending the race, and as such they don't get a lose on their record, and equally you don't get a win. This lack of sportsmanship gets very frustrating, as players constantly quit and disrupt what is otherwise a decent service.

But ignore these and you've got one of the most balanced Mario Karts yet. The handling feels just right, and it's a true powerslider's dream. The more hardcore players have a technique called 'snaking', in which they constantly powerslide diagonally along the track, while earning speed boosts. It's a difficult manoeuvre to pull off, but with practice it becomes a fantastic trick for wining races.

It doesn't exactly use the DS's unique features much however, and the second screen simply becomes a place for the track map, and the touch screen isn't used at all whilst playing, (it does change the map display, but it is mostly pointless). It's purely for navigating the menu's and creating your own emblems which you can stick to the front of your kart. But despite that, it is still one of the best games on the DS right now, and it proves to be a great game on your own, but with friends and online it's a blast.

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