Mario Kart DS|
Platform: Nintendo DS
Release Date: 11/14/05
Whore. Corperate money slave. Break dancer -- Mario has gone by many a name over the past few years; if there is a game genre you can think of, Mario has most likely been in it. But the series that has always never dissapointed fans is the Mario Kart series, and this time around, Nintendo shows us that they can delever a fresh experience from a formula that has been around longer than some gamers reading this article.
Mario Kart DS is the 5th entry in the log-running Mario Kart series, which has undergone little to no major overheal over the years, barring the team-up action in Double Dash for the GameCube. This time around, Nintendo has kept the long-time gamer in mind and actually included some of the most popular tracks from the SNES Mario Kart, which makes the nostalgic visit into the genre a whole new perspective. The game features the standard 50cc, 150cc and 500cc challenges that take you to various Mario locales like Luigi's Mansion, and Yoshi's Island. Beginners should sharpen their skills in the 50cc races so they can get a grip on the many mechanics that encompass the game, but the power-sliding veterans of the series will most likely be put off by the almost rediculous ease in winning a race.
For the first time, players can actually choose between two karts when they enter a race, which helps dissapate the felling that every racer drives alike. The different karts have a total of 8 different attributes that have definitive differences between them, but it basically boils down to whether you like using items or like great accelleration. While you can give Mario, a balanced character, any type of kart, you may want to go ahead and try giving Bowser a faster kart that will balance out his speed deficit because of his girth; so there is a bit of pre-race stretegy involved this time around.
Mario Kart looks and feels like it's infamous predecessor for the Nintendo 64. The game features slightly blocky, larger environments, with inventive and fun courses that will keep you on your toes the entire race through. There is really nothing to write home about in the graphic department, though; while a majority of the courses are littered with a nice array of colors and background activity, others seems to look on the bland side because of the DS's limitations when it comes to displaying 3D textures and polygons. The only time you will notice these flaws will be when you are leading the pack in the 50cc races, but in most situations, you will be fighting your way through the track, and against your opponents, so your attention will be on the road.
The game does not take advantage of the DS' touch-screen capability, which is truly a shame since this series is brimming with innovative ideas that could have been explored with just the swipe of a finger. For example, players can launch squid ink onto their opponents screens, which blocks them from seeing the track in front of them; if the game screen was on the touch screen (the course map is set on the touch screen), players could attempt to "wash away" the ink with their finger while racing. But the difficulty in the game (barring the 50cc race) is enough to make a vet break a sweat while playing; the game does well in the amount of difficulty is stacks against you, fotunately, opponents don't magically "catch up" to you if you are pulling away.
The sound of the game is the typical foray in Mario tunes, most of the classic tunes make a triumphant return when you manage to race on the classic tracks, but the new tracks for the other courses are harly noticeable. One thing I found myself doing was searching for a volume control for the go-karts sounds, the incessant buzzing of the engine would grate on my nerves after awhile if I was leading the pack alone.
As you progress through the game, you are able to gain unlockables based off of your performance. The game features such rewards as classic tracks and classic Mario characters to race as, instead of bombarding you with lame extras like Nintendo concept art, ala SSBM.
But perhaps the biggest feature of Mario Kart DS is that all players can connect wirelessly to Nintendo's Wi-Fi network provided they have the means neccessary to do so. Visiting the official website, Nintendo Wi-Fi.com, will give you a list of all the hotspots in your area, which are all most likely McDonalds. But for some of us, like myself, we use wireless hi-speed connections in our own households that allow us to use any wireless portable device with ease, and this should be the case with the DS as well, correct?
I use a Linksys Wireless G router with Speed Booster as my main hub in my basement, and I have a Wireless G adapter hooked into my computer. Even after I had turned off all Firewalls, input all of my internet connection spec's manually into the DS (IP, subnet mask, DNS server, ect), and was sitting next to my wireless hub, I was still denied access to the service. Nintendo's online tutorial for how to set up a connection is helpful, but some people may find themselves calling the hotline even though they have a compatible router; or even worse, purchasing a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB adapter (50$) that has been supposedly working on selective DS units on one computer, and then others on a different computer.
The only option that I have left right now is to travel to a McDonalds and sit in a booth to play online at the moment, and that kind of prospect really just doesn't appeal to me.
Overall, Mario Kart DS is easily one of the DS' best games, it combines the thrill of the classic Mario Kart experience fused with the fledgling online newtwork brimming with eager Nintendo fans that have been waiting to play one of their favorite series online for almost 15 years. Even if you aren't a big fan of the series, but own a DS, you owe it to yourself to discover the outlandish fun the game throws at you at every turn.
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Published on: 2005-12-10 (6170 reads)[ Go Back ]