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Mario Kart DS – Nintendo DS

Mario Kart DS – Nintendo DS

Mario Kart DS cover

     Platform: Nintendo DS

     Developer: Nintendo

     Publisher: Nintendo

     Genre: Racing Game

     Release Date: November 14th, 2005

     Nerd Rating: 9/10

Reviewed by THEbipolarBear


My first and only DS, complete with my favorite DS game.

My first and only DS, complete with my favorite DS game.

A long time ago, in a place far far away, my brother sent my one and only Nintendo DS as a care package from Wisconsin. Along with the DS came Metroid Prime Hunters and Justice League Heroes – but not Mario Kart DS. I acquired this game shortly after its release back in ’05 and have logged more hours on it than I’ve sat on my toilet – primarily because I can play Mario Kart DS on my toilet in private but I can’t relieve myself while playing Mario Kart DS in public. My point being, due to its key aspects, such as the revolutionary multiplayer, the sheer number of options, and the feasible yet challenging unlockables, this game is extremely addictive and rarely boring, especially when you play with friends.

Playing with friends lies at the very core of nearly all Mario Kart games, dating all the way back to the SNES with Super Mario Kart. Thankfully, Mario Kart DS is no exception. While there isn’t local multiplayer other than the Time Trials, the multiplayer mode is simply fantastic. It truly utilizes all of the connecting capabilities of the DS, from local matches to worldwide internet battles. Not only could you connect to friends with ease, but you could also play many different games with them with almost no connectivity issues. Zipping by your dismayed friends was never more rewarding and getting destroyed by a player-sent blue shell was never more infuriating. And of course, this called for rematch after rematch, making for a several-hour long gaming session with all of your DS-owning friends. All in all, Mario Kart DS is a very refined installment of Mario Kart that doesn’t reach too far beyond the Mario Kart cast, but its multiplayer function is leaps and bounds beyond all of its competition.

The character screen followed by the kart screen.

The character screen followed by the kart screen.

Mario Kart, in recent years, has been known to expand the realm of cartoon driving, allowing players to select their character, kart, game type, track, difficulty, speed, and sometimes their opponents. This expansive list of options is definitely present in Mario Kart DS and is flawlessly captured on a portable platform, making for an incredibly addictive and insanely fun single-player racing game. There seems to be an endless supply of combinations, since you can drive every single car with every single character, but even I eventually settled down to a combination that I found perfect – Luigi with his iconic Poltergust 4000. Even still, settling down didn’t sacrifice replayability. For example, on a long road trip, a gamer could complete the entire campaign without getting bored, and on they way back, choose a different, recently-unlocked character and a different game type for a totally new experience. Therefore, Mario Kart DS is one of the best additions to the Mario Kart world, and in my opinion, the best Nintendo DS game ever released.

The double screen (DS) allows for the normal view as well as the map view.

The double screen (DS) allows for the normal view as well as the map view.

But wait, there’s more! As I sat in the bathroom for many hours, I soon realized that I was getting rewarded for completion. After every grand prix I dominated, or after every set of missions I finished, a new character and accompanying car would be graciously given to me. At first I was pleased, then I was determined, and then my hunger for unlockables drove me head first into Mario Kart DS for many hours. Nintendo obviously knew what they were doing with the pacing of these achievements, because it drew me in like a moth to a flame. While I may have missed out on real-life accomplishments, the amount of satisfaction that I received from common events, such as finally beating Toad out of the number 1 seat or sniping the arrogant Mario with a green shell, kept me playing, and will keep this game in my personal top 10 for a long time. This is one of the greatest traits of Mario Kart DS, second to only the multiplayer mode, and is a defining factor for this game being rated so highly.

Looking back, this review is quite short for a 9/10 game, but that’s part of the reason Mario Kart DS is a 9/10. Unneeded additions are absent, a great deal of nostalgia for its predecessors is present, and the game is flawlessly balanced with the right amount of primarily racing along with a side of missions and battles, all on the golden platform of the amazing multiplayer. Nintendo stuck to what they knew worked – customization, unlockables, and the thrill of racing with friends. And while that decision left me with less to write about, it payed off in creating another solid installment of the Mario Kart series. So in conclusion, while the game itself is basic yet polished, there is plenty of virtuous traits that weren’t present in Mario Kart games before Mario Kart DS.

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Written by Nerd Bacon

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