Review - Mario Kart DS (NDS)

Discussion in 'GBAtemp Reviews & Guides' started by Volsfan91, Sep 4, 2006.

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Sep 4, 2006

Review - Mario Kart DS (NDS) by Volsfan91 at 4:04 AM (1,332 Views / 0 Likes) 0 replies

  1. Volsfan91

    Member Volsfan91 GBAtemp Regular

    Sep 3, 2006
    United States


    There has never been a game that I anticipated as much as I did Mario Kart DS. I still remember the release date: November 14. I literally would have dreams about driving around tracks in this game months before it was released. However, did the game live up to mine (and everyone else's) expectations? Find out in this edition of Volsfan91's review.


    I'll go ahead and ruin the suprise for you: gameplay, as well as every other aspect of this game, delivers flawlessly.

    The gameplay is unbelievable. What is there to say? The game has 32 tracks. That's unreal for a handheld racer! Granted, some of them (half) are old tracks that are from older incarnations of the series. However, because of a switch to full 3D, all of them have been rendered over- no lazy programmers here!

    As I touched on just a minute ago, the game has 16 retro tracks, known as the "Retro Grand Prix". These are divided up into four cups. Each of these four cups contains one track from the Super Nintendo, Gameboy Advance, Nintendo 64, and Gamecube versions of the series. The Retro Grand Prix mode has inspired me to go seek out older versions of the series, and play away! It's almost eerie. To see the similarities when playing the older versino after playing these tracks on the Nintendo DS. Although I have only played the three of those four (the SNES, GBA, and Gamecube's) system's versions of the game, I can tell you that the recreation of the tracks are absolutely dead-on, down to some of the smallest details. This is especially apparent in tracks like Baby Park, where all of the roller coasters from the background are still seen. It's incredible to play the DS version alongside the Gamecube version and compare. Hats off to the programmers for their dead-on work on this.

    The "Nitro Grand Prix" consists of the new tracks. Just like the Retro Grand Prix, the Nitro circuit is made up by 16 tracks over 4 cups. All of them are very intricate, and offer secrets that always keep me coming back. The enviroments are incredible. Take, for instance, Tick Tock Clock. The whole place consists of a big spinning cogs, as you are racing inside of a giant clock. This track is amazing, and is probably my favorite of the whole series. Another great track is a huge garden track, titled Peach Gardens. This track is downright massive, and has beautiful scenery. I have always thought a big part of a racing game's success hinges on its tracks, and Mario Kart DS delievers wholly.

    Screenshot: Waluigi Pinball


    In addition to the 32 included tracks, there is also the classic Mirror Mode, which basically doubles your tracks. Unlike a lot of games, the tracks also play suprisingly well when driven backwards. By design or coincidental? You decide.

    Not to be forgotten are the power-ups. They will make or break nearly every race. Whether it's a distraction power up like the blooper ink item, which smears your opponent's screen in black, or a triple turbo, not a race will pass when the outcome hinges on what you pull from an item box.

    A Blooper, just before it expels its ink:

    Then, there are the characters. There are quite a few characters- 12, to be exact. I can honestly say that I believe that each of them handles quite uniquely. It's nice to see some of new characters making an appearance- I will not ruin the suprise for you, but needless to say, you'll be blindsided when you unlock.... well, you play the game!

    Next up comes the Wi-Fi mode. I remember wanting this game mostly because of the Wi-Fi. The bad part was that my old router (a Netgear WGR614V5) was not compatible with the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. This was majorly a bummer for me- as it would connect some days, but not others. I found that on the days that it connected, it was very much worth my while. While I am not a big fan of Nintendo not having a lobby, I am not here to grade the Online service. All I have to say about the Wi-Fi is that it does offer a lot to the gameplay of the game.

    Rating: 10/10

    Anyone who knows me knows that I am not someone who will buy or sell a game's stock based on its graphics. However, I always see graphics as a necessary part of a game.

    I also see graphics as just another field that Mario Kart DS delivers in. In my opinion, the only game that rivals Mario Kart's 3D renderings is Metroid Prime: Hunters, which succeeded Mario Kart by several months. All of the enviroments are extremely well put together. Not a detail is left untouched. I can't even find words to describe the game's beautiful enviroments. All of the tracks are also well created- by this, I mean that all of them are very intuitive tracks that are downright fun to race on.


    Rating: 9/10


    I am no sound expert- I do not play any instruments, and I wouldn't know a tuba from a trumpet. (Well, that's a stretch) But, I do know one thing: Mario Kart's sound is great. As you may have seen in my other reviews, I define good music as this: music I find myself humming later. I have nearly burnt out my vocal chords humming Mario Kart DS's sound.

    It is also one of the few games that I have ripped the sound to my computer using Audacity so that I can use it in videos or whatnot. The sound really is that good.

    Not to be forgotten are the sound effects- every character has some sort of yelp or vocal qualm when they get nailed with a power up. This is an important, nice touch that the game has.

    Rating: 9/10


    The replay value of this game is downright phenomenal. The numerous multiplayer modes are enough to keep any two Mario Kart fans (who isn't one?) content for hours. Also, if your friend does not have a Mario Kart game card, don't fear- the game features the DS's download feature. Don't worry, it won't be an often used feature- after your friend plays a download demo of this game, they will instantly want it. [​IMG] I can say that after my little sister played a download demo, we soon were the proud owners of two copies in my househould.

    The multiplayer modes include balloon battle, Shine Theif, and good old racing. The battle modes (Balloon and Shine) feature specific battle arenas, the most notable of which is a Nintendo DS. Just don't drive past the speakers on the oversized DS, or you'll find yourself falling off into space!

    All of this has been said with the wonderful Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. I am not friend of the friend codes system, (ha.) but it is so fun to get online and play with friends. It really isn't all that much trouble to setup- pick up a phone, call a friend, and hook up for some racing!

    Rating: 10/10


    Mario Kart DS is a must own if you have a DS or DS Lite. I am proposing a new idea: Nintendo pre-packages the game on some internal flash chip in the DS. It really is that good. If you don't already own it, don't bother renting it unless you can apply your rental fee towards a purchase. Even if you aren't a traditional racing fan, this kart racer will satisfy anyone with hours upon hours of fun.

    Final Mathematical Score: 96/100

    Mathematical explanation:
    Each category is given a mathematical weight, so that each category matters more than others. Obviously, gameplay is more important than sound. Also, I plan on eventually revising the weights, but here goes the current scale:

    Gameplay: Weight of 4 (times score)
    Graphics: Weight of 2 (times score)
    Sound: Weight of 2 (times score)
    Replay Value: Weight of 2 (times score)

    So, the score for this game is like this:
    Gameplay: 4x(10)
    Graphics: 2x(9)
    Sound: 2x(9)
    Replay Value: 2x(10)

    Add them all up, and you get... 96/100

    There you have it- a complete review of Mario Kart DS. You are welcome to let me know what you think through personal message!
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