Customer Reviews: Mario Kart DS
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on November 15, 2005
It seems just like yesterday when the original Mario Kart made its debut on the SNES in 1992. The game was a hit back then, and it isn't difficult to understand why. A racing game that emphasizes on sabotaging your opponents with weapons like banana skins, flying shells and lightning bolts was almost unheard of then, and to do so with your favorite Nintendo characters was, quite simply, pure bliss. Not surprisingly, the game captured the hearts of many gamers then.

Fast forward to the year 2005. Fans of the series have seen a few sequels through the years, but the DS version of Mario Kart was greeted with much more anticipation than its predecessors. The main reason, obviously, is the game's inclusion of integrated online play. For the first time in Mario Kart's history, gamers can now take on players from all over the world as long as they're using a wireless router that is supported by Nintendo. The game also allows up to eight players to multiplay in close proximity with only one copy of the cartridge, which essentially means that a gamer who decides not to buy the game can still perform a download play and race against a friend who owns a cartridge.

Of course, to enjoy the other features in Mario Kart DS, you'll still have to purchase the game, especially when you're interested in taking on the single-player campaign. As with previous instalments, Mario Kart DS has a grand prix mode, which comprises of four races each that are span across eight different competitions. This means a total of 32 tracks for your racing pleasure. 16 of these tracks are brand new, but the rest consists of classic ones from previous renditions of Mario Kart. These include the Moo Moo Farm from N64, Peach Circuit from the GBA and even the original Mario Circuit from the SNES. These will no doubt bring much joy for Mario Kart fans.

Yet, even in the presence of the classic tracks, the newer tracks do not pale in comparison. The innovative minds at Nintendo have once again developed a series of circuits that are visually stunning, mildly challenging and always entertaining. You'll get to race through a pinball machine, a clock and even an airship fortress! The combination of both old and new tracks is indeed a masterstroke that allows you to engage new challenges, as well as indulge in some nostalgia.

Mario Kart DS also has a mission mode that requires you to perform a series of tasks within a certain time limit. These include collecting a designated number of coins, passing through a series of numbered gates in sequence, and even hitting specified enemies with specified weapons. The missions are divided into "worlds", and each world various stages. Completing all stages in a world will unlock a "boss fight", which could involve winning in a race against the boss, or even to knock him out from a platform. Defeating a boss unlocks the next world, up to a maximum of six worlds and a total of 54 missions. Obviously, the missions get tougher as the game progresses, but they aren't exactly impossible to complete. Gamers who enjoy more than merely racing should find the mission mode in Mario Kart DS a fun and captivating feature.

The other modes in the single player campaign include a VS challenge and a battle mode. The VS challenge basically pits you against seven CPU-controlled racers in a never-ending series of races. This is the perfect training ground for learning the techniques of the game. The battle mode consists of a balloon battle and a shine runners game. The balloon battle requires you to burst the balloons of your opponents, while the shine runners game requires you grab as many shines as possible. These two mini-games are quite forgettable when played alone, so it's recommended that you engage them with a friend or two. Bursting balloons has never been so much fun.

A Mario Kart game is never complete without an array of usable weapons against your fellow racers. In Mario Kart DS, the arsenal gets even better with the inclusion of some new items. One of these new weapons is the Bob-omb, which causes an explosion. If used accurately, the Bob-omb's impact on an opponent is tremendous, as it drastically slows down his or her progress. The Bullet Bill is another new item that is extremely cool. Using it will turn you into a flying bullet. You'll find yourself bursting forward with much speed, knocking over anyone who dares stand in your way, and most importantly, covering a lot of ground. The Blooper, one of Mario's nastiest enemies, is the third new addition. It'll squirt ink onto your opponent's windscreen, causing a temporary loss of vision. The range of old and new items more than complement each other, and you'll no doubt find great usage with them as you progress.

The controls of Mario Kart DS are extremely simple, making it a game that anyone could pick up and play without much hassle. Of course, learning more techniques are useful when you intend to go online for some real challenge, and the game does give you a repertoire of skills to master. One of them is turbo drifting, which requires you to drift, and then quickly press the left and right button on your D-pad to cause your tires to catch fire. Releasing the drift immediately after that will result in a temporary burst of speed. This technique is extremely useful in chasing a seemingly loss cause.

The real meat of the game, obviously, is the online feature. Once you get connected, you'll be able to search for players who're also online at the same time. It may take a while for you to get a full quota of four players, but the game works with one or two opponents as well. You'll have to race through a standard Grand Prix in an online game. You'll also get to vote on which track you want to race, so that you can at least gain an upper hand by (hopefully) getting a track that you're familiar with. It's also advisable for you to practise on the various tracks before proceeding, since you won't want to finish last all the time!

As mentioned earlier, you can also play with fellow friends with the use of only one cartridge, but the player who doesn't have a cartridge will, by default, be using Shy Guy as a character. The player only needs to turn on his DS when another player hosts the game, and he should be able to "download" the game into his DS for a quick race. As with online play, it takes a while for the connection to be established, but my experience with multiplaying has found no lag at all during the gameplay, which is definitely great. Beware, however, when you send a bolt of lightning towards your friend - regular attempts at this could possibly lead to a loss of friendship at the end of the races!

If you're a fan of Nintendo-style graphics, Mario Kart DS will not disappoint you. The game retains the usual awesome graphics from the past, and provides a great sense of details even for a supposedly "cartoony" presentation. The DS' dual screen also comes in handy here, as you can watch the action on the top screen, while still referring to the touch screen for a real-time map. The map is especially useful for dodging attacks from behind. The audios are also highly enjoyable, combining great music and sound effects seamlessly. Somehow, the sound of "vroom vroom" seems to blend perfectly to the lively, catchy tunes in the background. If only prime time radio is that good.

In summary, Mario Kart DS is everything you can expect from a Mario Kart game, and perhaps just a little more. The inclusion of online play makes the experience a little better, but even if you've no access to it, the single player campaign should still be good enough to keep you going back for more. Just remember to change your underpants.
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on November 15, 2005
I had my doubts about Mario Kart DS in the early stages of its development. Mario Kart: Double Dash (Gamecube) was never one of my favorite games, and I was hoping that Nintendo would stick to the roots with their DS edition of the high-selling, fan-favorite racing game. With Mario Kart DS, they've done just that.

It seems that the developers took everything great from Super Mario Kart (SNES), Mario Kart 64 (N64), Mario Kart Super Circuit (GBA), and Mario Kart: Double Dash (GC) and put all of those elements into a single Mario Kart game. When you consider how wonderful all of these games have been and how much fun they still are today, that's quite an achievement. Mario Kart DS features some of the same gameplay modes that fans have seen for years: Grand Prix, Time Trial, and Battle. They're the same as always, with three ranks of difficulty in Grand Prix and several different battle modes in Battle.

Nintendo didn't stop with the classic game modes. In fact, they added another interesting mode called "Challenge" in which you pick up certain numbers of coins or do a set number of power slides in a lap under a certain amount of time. These challenges can be excruciatingly difficult but they make you a much more weathered Mario Kart player and therefore are a great addition to the game. Also, Multiplayer has come in the form of Nintendo's first WiFi-enabled online multiplayer DS game. The races in WiFi multiplayer are relatively simple but it's a great addition to the game nonetheless.

On the track itself, the controls are easy but don't utilize the DS very much--driving is done with the directional pad, acceleration and braking are done with the A and B buttons, power sliding is done with the R trigger, and item usage comes from the L trigger. This simple system goes alongside several classic items and three new ones. The Bullet Bill thrusts you forward knocking anyone in your path off of the track. The Bob-Omb explodes, causing anything in its blast radius to spin out and slow down considerably. Last of all, the Blooper spits ink on every other racer's screen, making steering very difficult due to limited visibility.

Visually Mario Kart DS stands out as one of the best-looking Nintendo DS games to date. It faithfully recreates some of the classic 3D tracks from Mario Kart 64 and Double Dash (like the ghost house level from MK64 and Luigi's Circuit from MKDD) while also bringing SNES and GBA tracks to life in 3D. Of course, there have also been sixteen new tracks added to the mix, making a grand total of 32 different tracks that all look unique but beautifully show off the wacky Nintendo universe. The music from all of the classic tracks return as well (even the GBA tracks) and the new beats are as catchy as the old ones. Sound bytes, like the different celebrations and yelps of pain when a character is hit with a shell, sound just like they always have.

Mario Kart DS is the essential Nintendo DS game. If you've almost given up on the DS, than you clearly haven't played Mario Kart DS and for that reason you're missing out. MKDS is being sold for $35, and if you see it how I do, that's $1.09 per race track and you could easily get more than a few dozen hours of enjoyment out of this before you want to play something else. Is Mario Kart DS worth it? I'd say so.
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As of this writing, Mario Kart DS is hands down the absolute best game available for the DS. As one would expect from the long running series, Mario Kart DS allows you to play as Mario and co. in a series of go-kart races. The gameplay mechanics will feel like putting on an old glove for longtime fans of the series, while newcomers will have no trouble getting into the game. As you progress through the various circuits, you'll find bonus tracks, karts, and characters to unlock as well, which adds a nice amount of replayability to the single player mode. Along with the new tracks, there are some retro tracks available as well taken from the past incarnations of the series. The real main attraction of Mario Kart DS however, is the fantastic Wi-Fi multiplayer mode. There are only a handful of DS games which support Wi-Fi capability, and none is better at it than Mario Kart. This is where the real meat and potatoes of the game lies, and you'll have a hard time putting down your DS after getting a taste of it. The game looks, sounds, and plays phenominally, and all in all, Mario Kart DS is yet another excellent, must own, first party title for the DS, and the Wi-Fi options make it even more of a smash.
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on May 10, 2006

This the game of the century! Some of the best graphics you have ever seen on DS. A good wide range of characters, including new unlockable characters like R.O.B the robot and Dry Bones. Cool new karts, and you even get to design your own emblems. There are three new weapons - Bullet Bill, Boo, and Blooper - plus some old weapons, like red shells, star and Bob-bomb. New tracks, as in Airship Fortress (based on Mario Bros. 3 boss levels) and Tick Tock Clock (based on a Mario 64 level). Also, there are classic cups: some from the NES, some from the SNES, some from the N64, and some from the GC. The best tracks in classic cup are Mushroom Bridge (GC) and Frappe Snowland (N64). A good game for people that have just bought the DS - and people that have already got the DS will LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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on December 2, 2005
Mario Kart has always been a brilliant series. From the classic, simple-yet-eternally-playable Super Mario Kart through the newfound 3D chaos of Mario Kart 64, to the new-retro mix of Super Circuit for GBA to the co-op fun of Double Dash, Mario Kart usually doesn't disappoint. What's more, every game offers a slightly different experience. It's never more of the same, because each game has its own unique feel.

Mario Kart DS is another in this line. The game is 3D, but it also pays tribute to games of the past in the Retro circuit with courses from all four previous games. Which mean that there are 8 2D tracks from Super Mario Kart and Super Circuit. And 8 blasts from the not so distant past from Mario Kart 64 and Double Dash. That's 16 courses, right there. And on top of that, there are 16 new courses designed for this game. Yes, that's right, 32 tracks.

The most amazing amount of tracks isn't enough, though. There are plenty of characters. The list as it stands is Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Toad, Wario, Waluigi, and the unlockable Daisy, Dry Bones, and even a super secret ROB for all you retro-fans. And each character will eventually get a total of 7 karts each, giving you a massive choice for customization.

But customization doesn't end there. Mario Kart DS offers a symbol editor that will allow you to create a custom emblem in a stylus-powered paint program. While normally I don't care for such things, the stylus makes drawing and editing extremely easy. And the emblems have a use, which I'll detail later.

Mechanics in game have changed little. You can go forward and back, fire weapons, hop with R, and powerslide through turns. The powerslide is important, especially in the 100 and 150CC grand prix mode, unless you want to come in the middle of the pack. Weapons are still incredibly useful, and you still get the best ones when you're losing. Lightning bolts and blue shells can truly be equalizers, and the new Bullet Bill and Blooper are unique, clever, and fit in very well with the mechanics of the game.

The GP mode is a staple of Mario Kart, but there's an addition of a mission mode. These special requirement mini-stages lead up to various boss battles with classic Mario villians and are pretty inspired. They start mind-numbingly easy, but eventually become fairly tricky. It's a nice addition to the single-player game. But I imagine that's not what you're playing for.

Multiplayer. Ah yes, Mario Kart has always been a multiplayer game. And never more so than now. You can play with up to 8 people together using the wireless play, and only one person need have a copy of the game (though the others are stuck with default Shy Guy as a racer, and have no say in courses and whatnot). There is the normal races, the standard baloon-destroying battle mode, and a new shine runners game (not something I care for, but you may). The multiplayer runs perfectly, with almost no hint of slow-down. It truly is pretty amazing to see in action, though getting 8 people together with DSs may take some work.

Which leads me to the final thing. Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection, WFC, which allows your DS to go online using a wireless router. This isn't too complicated, but outside the scope of the review. So head to [...] for information about how to go online. The online experience with Mario Kart is pretty wonderful for Nintendo's first online title. You'll be paired with 3 other racers for four races on tracks you choose. Sadly, not all the tracks are available online (the more complex tracks were left out, probably due to trouble making them run fluidly) and you can only have 4 players, but it's a great experience to be playing online against Kart racers from all over the world, and it opens up a whole world of ideas for new online experiences. AND, it's FREE. That's more than enough reason to try, if you ask me. I'm sure you'll be able to at least find a nearby hotspot if you live in any moderately populated area, so go ahead and give it a try.

Some notes on the online game:
your stats (win/loss) are kept track of automatically, on a profile that is made up by the game and the DS working together, so keep your DS and your game as a 'set' if you will. Also, dropping out of a game will net you a loss for every person that was racing. So a full game will net you 3 losses.

Other than that, I'm out of thigns to say. Mario Kart is one for the ages, though, and this may be the best one yet. It's worth it, even if you have no intention of playing online. Enjoy your race!
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on March 20, 2007
I got a DS when they came out, and the only game i had was Mario 64 DS. That got old when i was beating it for the fourth time :-). I got this game, and it is SOOO addicting. The courses are wacky, from relatively easy but fun courses like the Yoshi Circuit to rip-your-hair-out-impossible tracks like Sky Garden and Rainbow road. The racers are amazing, being made up of Mario and friends, and there are tons of cars ranging from regular Karts to Construction Cranes. It can be hard to unlock more courses, but it's just fun anyway- not to mention that there are really fun "Battles."
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on April 13, 2007
This game is my most favorite game! it has racing, Time trials, battles, and

more! I haven't tried the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection but I imagine that it will be great!

My sisters are playing it all the time! This game can be suitable for ALL ages!!!!!!!!!! If you are looking for a good racing game Purchase the Mario Kart for the Nintendo DS!
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on July 3, 2007
Mario Kart DS is a return to the classic style of Mario Kart play (one racer per Kart, which the GameCube's Double Dash departed from) and it plays like a classic Mario Kart game. This game features plenty of modes--from Grand Prix races to multiplayer to new mission modes--and a slew of unlockables to keep you going for hours on end.

Audience: You don't need to be a racing fan. These games are great for nearly all ages and people of all skill levels, and feature varying degrees of difficulty to cater to the needs of just about anyone.

Graphics: For a handheld the graphics are great. No problems there--this game looks excellent on the DS's dual screens.

Gameplay: Despite the relatively simple concept of Mario Kart, and despite so many games in the series, each title still manages to keep the franchise fresh. Mario Kart DS features a Grand Prix mode with a total of 32 tracks (you have to unlock many of these by winning on the ones available). 16 of these tracks are new, and 16 are tracks from the other Mario Kart games. This is a good thing--it's a lot of fun to revisit old favorites. There are also many characters to unlock. Mario Kart DS features an all new Missions mode, tasking you with various objectives and leading up to boss fights after you pass a certain number of them. Some of these are very tough.

Battle mode is an important part of any Mario Kart DS, and in this respect Mario Kart DS does not disappoint. There are a couple forms of vs. battles, from the classic break your opponents balloons to the gather the Sunshines mode, and all are accompanied by the weapon-slinging mayhem you've come to expect from Mario Kart!

Control: The controls were adapted perfectly to the DS. Control is pretty much the same as earlier Mario Kart games, which, again, is a good thing. The top screen is used for racing and the bottom for a map of the track, which is a great addition. It's nice to see who's coming up behind you or where other racers are positioned on the track.

Challenge: The great thing about Mario Kart has always been the varying degree of difficulty. When you start out the races are pretty easy, but as you unlock new modes and speeds and your opponents become more aggressive the game becomes quite a challenge.

Multiplayer: The multiplayer action on this game is absolutely great. Not only can you connect over Nintendo's Wi-Fi network with 7 other people for an 8 player Mario Kart race or battle, you can also play with other people locally with only one copy of the game. You can also create a custom logo, which identifies you when you're playing online.

Mario Kart has always been one of Nintendo's strongest franchises and this is another installment in a series that has yet to disappoint. If you've got a DS I'd consider this a must have.
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on May 12, 2007
This game is a lot of fun for any age person. It also is challenging enough for thos avid gamers, especially the missions section. I love it.
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on November 20, 2012
I really enjoyed playing this game but found that if I left the unit on it ate up battery life like there was no tomorrow. I actually thought something was wrong with my existing battery or the DS itself because the battery took forever to get any charge on it and once it did, the charge unloaded in a matter of an hour or so.

Once I took the game out and installed a different one, the DS (and its battery) performed normally.
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