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Brent Lindquist "Brently" RSS Feed (Everson, WA USA)
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Avatar (Two-Disc Original Theatrical Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
Avatar (Two-Disc Original Theatrical Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
DVD ~ Sam Worthington
Offered by MoreThanMachines
Price: $18.46
100 used & new from $0.32

0 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely stunning, but consider carefully before you buy, April 30, 2010
James Cameron's best picture-nominated sci-fi epic 'Avatar' has finally hit Blu-Ray, and it has brought quite a lot of controversy with it. But we'll get to that in a minute.

The film itself needs no introduction. The $2.7 billion it has grossed worldwide speaks to the fact that most people have probably watched the movie already. Suffice to say it won't win any awards for story or originality, but James Cameron has created one of the deepest worlds ever put to film. 'Avatar' really feels like an experience rather than a run-of-the-mill movie, and I'll argue that it's an experience everybody should have.

On Blu-Ray, 'Avatar' is utterly gorgeous. 'Star Trek' is widely considered the best Blu-Ray on the market today, but if we're going strictly off of the technical aspects, 'Avatar' at least gives 'Trek' some heavy competition for the top spot. The colors of Pandora are just as vibrant as in the movie theater, perhaps even more beautiful because the brightness isn't lessened by a 3D presentation. And I've watched the movie with both a surround sound setup and basic built-in TV speakers, and it sounds amazing on both.

But there is a major catch. Actually, there are two. Consider them both before dropping the cash for 'Avatar.'

1. Bare-bones doesn't even begin to describe this Blu-Ray.
You're literally paying for the movie (in both HD and SD), some studio logos and a basic menu. No special features, no trailers, not even cast and director profiles. This is strictly 'Avatar.'
James Cameron has been quite open about the fact that there will be another edition of 'Avatar' released in November, with five or six minutes of additional footage. It will also no doubt contain a plethora of special features, which are sure to be very interesting considering how Cameron actually made this movie. If any of that sounds interesting to you, then pass on this one and wait until November.

2. This isn't in 3D.
I'm extremely critical of the use of 3D in movies. It limits filmmakers and drives up ticket prices. But, there's no denying that seeing 'Avatar' in 3D was a wonderful experience. It's the best 3D we'll see, perhaps until Cameron makes another movie. He made 'Avatar' with 3D in mind, and it shows in the film's theatrical presentation. If you loved the 3D in 'Avatar,' just remember that it won't be the same on a small screen in 2D. And yes, it will eventually see a 3D home video release, but you'll need the technology to support it.
That said, the Blu-Ray release is beautiful, and it actually surprised me how much I didn't miss the 3D. Pandora is vibrant and immersing enough already, and although you'll notice the difference, this release of 'Avatar' proves just how unnecessary 3D is for the experience.

It would be very easy to criticize 'Avatar' for its inevitable double-dip release, but Cameron hasn't exactly hidden the fact that we'll be able to buy it again. Normally I'd cry foul at an obvious cash cow like this, but this isn't secret or underhanded. Anybody who knows the nature of film studios and their DVD releases will know to at least Google these things before dropping $19.99 on a single Blu-Ray. Anybody who doesn't know to do so should get in the habit of researching their home video purchases, because it's important to make sure you're getting what you want.

In closing, buy this version if you don't care about special features or extra footage. It features a beautiful transfer that will not disappoint. But that's all. If you want more, then wait for November.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 26, 2010 11:19 PM PDT


Superman: Red Son (Deluxe Edition)
Superman: Red Son (Deluxe Edition)
by Mark Millar
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $49.97

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My all-time favorite graphic novel, in a beautiful hardcover edition, April 22, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
If you glance at my collection of graphic novels, you'll see a ridiculous abundance of Batman titles. 'Year One', 'The Dark Knight Returns', 'The Long Halloween', 'Dark Victory', 'The Killing Joke', 'Arkham Asylum', and on and on. Batman has been my favorite for years, which makes it a little strange to say that Mark Millar's 'Superman: Red Son' is my favorite graphic novel of all time.

It's always tough to jump into a superhero's mythology so many decades after its beginning. In that respect, 'Red Son' is perfect for the Supes newcomer; it's a complete story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. No multiple backstories to read up on, no origin story to research.

The premise is simple: instead of crash-landing in Smallville, Kal-El's spaceship ends up on a collective farm in the Soviet Union. We get to see what might've happened if Superman's origin story had gone this way.

To be clear, this Elseworlds story isn't a butterfly effect-type tale. Millar doesn't simply change the location of Kal-El's crash and then write about how this change alone effects the Superman universe. Many DC characters pop up with altered roles and origins, including the Green Lantern, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Bizarro and more.

Therein lies my favorite part of 'Red Son'. These characters are not brought in just for recognition purposes; they all have a reason for being there, and all of these reasons are heavily influenced by Superman being a communist instead of an American. I read and re-read Batman's part all the time, not because it's Batman, but because it's a truly amazing scene.

Props must be given to Millar for such tight and all-encompassing storytelling. He's written a tale that gives us a glimpse of what might happen if the most powerful American superhero of all time wasn't American at all. Even for fiction, it's a little frightening. And the ending is absolutely mind-blowing; you must read it to believe it.

Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett's art is spot-on, and it's only helped by this definitive hardcover edition. The cover (as you can see above) is a beautiful piece of faux-propaganda, and it fits the tone of this graphic novel absolutely perfectly.

If you're looking for a fascinating, high-quality story that doesn't require a great deal of past superhero knowledge or research to enjoy and understand, then 'Superman: Red Son' should be a no-brainer, and this new deluxe edition should only seal the deal.


Batman: Arkham Asylum - Xbox 360
Batman: Arkham Asylum - Xbox 360
Offered by DJ's Goods
Price: $39.95
135 used & new from $3.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The kind of video game the Dark Knight would be proud of, April 15, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Astute movie and video game fans may remember hearing Gary Oldman (Jim Gordon in `Batman Begins' and `The Dark Knight') "confirm" a `Dark Knight' video game to G4 in 2008 about three days after the movie's release. I was very skeptical, since most movie video games are released around the date of the movie upon which they are based, simply for publicity's sake.

Needless to say, the game never saw a release date, and details later surfaced regarding the reasons. Chalk it up to development problems on the part of Pandemic Brisbane, the studio hired to create the game.

Jump ahead to August 25, 2009. Rocksteady Studios releases `Batman: Arkham Asylum' to retailers. The result is most assuredly better than anything we could've hoped for in a game based on a movie. Actually, the result is quite jaw-dropping for a video game in general.

Conceptually (and very loosely) based on the graphic novel Batman: Arkham Asylum (15th Anniversary Edition) by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean, `Arkham Asylum' the video game begins with Batman driving the Joker to Arkham in the Batmobile. Predictably enough, the Joker eventually takes over the asylum, and Batman jumps to the task at hand: liberating Arkham from the Joker and his thugs.

This game is a Batman fan's dream, through and through. The attention to detail exhibited by Rocksteady Studios is utterly astounding. Setting the game in Arkham allows them to veritably run wild with references and throwbacks to a wide range of villains from Batman's entire Rogues Gallery. I discovered several new villains I never even knew existed in the Bat-universe while playing through `Arkham'.

As far as gameplay is concerned, `Arkham' is appropriately varied throughout, with good helpings of brawling, stealth and puzzles. The fighting does get a little repetitive, but taking down bad guys never loses its appeal. This repetition does become a hindrance in boss battles, however. Throughout the game, the same mini-boss battle is repeated multiple times without much variation. Batman waits for the baddie to charge, tosses a Batarang, dodges, and goes to town on the disoriented thug. This isn't a huge problem, but a little more creativity would've been appreciated.

Beyond this flaw, the game shines throughout. The Joker's henchmen aren't too intelligent, but I will argue that this makes the game more fun to play. They have enough intelligent moments to make the game semi-believable, but they're also dumb enough to allow for some remarkably cool sneaking moves and takedowns. The stealth feels too easy sometimes, but it's always satisfying. Think of it like `Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell', only Batman has a much easier time beating the baddies if he's caught. There are usually many vantage points, and many ways to approach each room as well.

Batman's gadgets are a very welcome feature as well. The remote control Batarang never gets old, and the gadgets Batman acquires later in the game will make you want to explore the island even more before completion, just to put them to use. If only I could have Batman's zipline in real life.

Graphically, `Arkham' is a powerhouse, with beautifully detailed character models, impressive water effects and no noticeable dips in framerate. Arkham is a very gothic place, and Rocksteady has captured this motif brilliantly without overdoing it. The environments are impressively detailed, even though you'll be too busy battling through them to take much notice. There are a few graphical glitches here and there, but they are by no means game-breaking and certainly not always noticeable in the midst of the action.

At the end of the day, it's the production values that make `Arkham Asylum' a must-buy. This is a complete video game package if I've ever seen one. The voice actors all give solid performances, including Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy, reprising their iconic Animated Series roles as the Joker and Batman, respectively. Once the main quest is done and over with, the Riddler challenges and trophies should be next on any gamer's list. Finding all the collectibles and playing through the welcome Challenge Mode only further lengthen the time you'll be spending at Arkham.

We may not have gotten a `Dark Knight' game, but maybe that was for the better, because `Batman: Arkham Asylum' surpasses anything a movie-game could've achieved. Rocksteady had the entire Batman library at its fingertips, and chose not to skimp on any facet, making it a complete masterpiece of a game that shouldn't be missed.

If you somehow aren't a Batman fan after `The Dark Knight', maybe `Arkham Asylum' will make one out of you. Give it a try.


Battle Studies
Battle Studies
Price: $6.99
139 used & new from $0.29

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It can't beat 'Continuum', but 'Battle Studies' has its perks, April 15, 2010
This review is from: Battle Studies (Audio CD)
How does one follow up a masterpiece?

Not many artists have to answer that question at some point in their careers. John Mayer got that chance with his 2009 LP, 'Battle Studies.' It's an enviable position to be in, but an extremely difficult one too.

Make no mistake, Mayer's 2007 offering 'Continuum' was a masterpiece. It perfectly blended his pop-rock roots with the blues chops he established during his time fronting the John Mayer Trio. Every song seemed meticulously crafted and refined, each one a joy to listen to.

'Battle Studies' is a decidedly different album. It lacks the consistency of 'Continuum', but its standouts can easily stand up to the best tracks Mayer has ever released.

The album leads off with "Heartbreak Warfare," arguably its best and most memorable track. The song is a rollicking, echoey ballad that establishes the underlying theme of 'Battle Studies': love as war. It's a beautiful, catchy song that you'll want to listen to again and again.

The rest of the album pulls some sudden switches between 80s-esque electric rock (think Eric Clapton or Tom Petty) and folksy acoustic guitar. "All We Ever Do Is Say Goodbye" allows Mayer to exercise his vocal talent, which seems to effectively split audiences. Love it or hate it, the guy can belt it, and there's no denying his unequaled talent on the guitar.

The only collaboration on the album is "Half Of My Heart," which features Taylor Swift (I guess). She's barely there, but hearing her very short solo is a neat addition to the bare, acoustic-and-drumset-laden song.

"Who Says" was a controversial choice for the first single released on the album. There are tracks on 'Battle Studies' with much bigger hit potential, but "Who Says" is a quiet, honest, acoustic musing by Mayer, who lyrically wonders who says he can't do what he wants to do.

"Perfectly Lonely" is a bluesy tune, upbeat with some more signature guitar thrown in for good measure. Aside from the warfare theme, this album definitely fits into another concept: singleness. Both "Who Says" and "Perfectly Lonely" fit this theme. They're frank expressions of Mayer's contentment with the single life.

"Assassin" deserves a special mention. It's one of the strangest and most unique tracks Mayer has ever put out. It constantly fluctuates between quiet and loud, and the sound is something you'll have to hear for yourself. It's tough to describe, but I definitely like it.

Mayer covers Clapton/Cream on "Crossroads," which is cool to hear but not all that memorable. That guitar is pretty damn impressive, though.

"Edge of Desire" is my other favorite on the album. It's a slow song, and the chorus is extremely beautiful. It's a perfect showcase of the honest pictures of romance that Mayer is known for.

"Do You Know Me" is definitely the most forgettable track on the album. It clocks in at 2.5 minutes, and it's easy to let it pass by without even noticing its presence on 'Battle Studies'. It's extremely slow and bare, which isn't bad, but it doesn't stand out as much as the other tracks do.

'Battle Studies' finishes out with "Friends, Lovers Or Nothing," which I definitely appreciate because it's piano-driven. My favorite track on 'Continuum' was unquestionably 'Dreaming With A Broken Heart', which is very similar to "Friends, Lovers Or Nothing" in a lot of ways, including the sweet piano. The guitar melds with the piano very well, and Mayer's writing is still topnotch.

Mayer had his work cut out for him when he was tasked with following up 'Continuum'. He doesn't top that album here, but I get the feeling he wasn't exactly trying to. He wanted to make some good music, and that's what he's accomplished here. Even if it doesn't top 'Continuum', 'Battle Studies' does feature some of the best tracks Mayer has ever played.

Give 'Battle Studies' a preview listen before you buy, and you'll see what I mean. I can almost guarantee that "Heartbreak Warfare" will convince you in a heartbeat that 'Battle Studies' is worth your money. Just remember to give the rest of the album a little time to grow on you. You won't regret it.


inFAMOUS - Playstation 3
inFAMOUS - Playstation 3
Offered by Big Game Vendor
Price: $14.99
224 used & new from $2.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best superhero games ever produced, at a new low price, April 15, 2010
= Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars 
Who would've thought one of the best superhero video games of all time wouldn't even be based on a comic book? Believe it, because Sucker Punch's Playstation 3 exclusive 'inFamous' just might be the best superhero game I've ever played, perhaps second only to 'Batman: Arkham Asylum.'

The player jumps into the shoes of Cole MacGrath, an ordinary bike messenger who is hired to carry a package across Empire City, where the game is set. When the package's contents detonate and lay waste to the city, Cole is given electrical superpowers and the motivation to figure out the identity of the person responsible for the whole mess.

'inFamous' is a morality-based game, and morality plays heavily into its story. The choices you make as Cole heavily affect him, his powers, the city around him and his story.

In games based around the morality factor, it becomes very important that the player actually becomes engrossed enough to care. The only real problem I had with 'inFamous' was the fact that I really didn't care what happened in many of the situations, which are not always very creative (some involve a simple button press to decide between two outcomes). Many of the situations don't have very far-reaching consequences, either.

For instance, in one early mission, Cole comes across some machines that are leaking mind-altering tar into the water supply. You can choose to disable them without hurting Cole, which will leak even more of the sludge into the water supply, or you can disable them up close, hurting Cole and weakening him. The problem is, that weakness wears off relatively quickly, and it isn't that difficult to overcome the bad guys while weakened, anyway.

Additionally, there is one situation towards the end in which Cole gets to choose between two extreme outcomes. I played both outcomes, and it looks like Sucker Punch got a little lazy. The outcome ends up being the exact same no matter what your choice, which makes no sense considering the situation. I don't want to spoil it, but you'll know what I'm talking about.

Where morality does come into play, however, is in the action. If Cole is low on health, you can choose to Bio Leech a civilian or bad guy, killing them but refilling your health and giving you some evil points. Also, it's much easier to just blast away a city block full of civilians and bad guys rather than specifically targeting the bad guys. Impatient gamers are much more likely to take the evil route.

Aside from this little caveat of not caring about many of the moral conundrums, 'inFamous' is an absolute joy to play. It incorporates a very well-done RPG system that is never too pervasive; each kill/takedown you make, meaningful action you perform, or quest you complete will earn your character experience points, which can be spent on different electrical powers. Depending on your status as a hero or villain, you can earn different morality-based powers as well.

The most important component to the fun factor in any superhero game is the implementation of the hero's superpower, and inFamous does not disappoint. Cole uses electricity for everything, from fighting to transportation, and it's all fun and intuitive. The fighting in 'inFamous' evolves with your version of Cole, and it gets more and more fun as you gain better powers. Plus, you'll have a blast just grinding the railroad tracks and power lines looking for the various collectibles hidden throughout Empire City.

Technically, 'inFamous' looks and sounds great. The faces could use a lot of work, but the rest of the game is very pretty, especially the electricity effects. Also, I'd like to hear a slightly more cheerful Cole when 'inFamous 2' inevitably hits shelves. I know he's been through a lot, but the guy sounds permanently depressed.

The cinema scenes deserve a special shout out. Many of them are presented in a comic-like style rather than using the in-game graphics, and the story is told very effectively through these scenes. I hope Sucker Punch incorporates them even more the next time around.

Especially following the recent price drop, 'inFamous' is more than worth your money. It's ridiculously fun game to play, both action and story-wise, and it will last you a long time. The problems I have with the game are minor, and they do not detract from the fun factor all that much in the end.

Bring on the sequel!


Heavy Rain - Greatest Hits
Heavy Rain - Greatest Hits
Offered by Shopville USA
Price: $27.86
104 used & new from $9.25

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unique and satisfying Playstation 3 exclusive, April 13, 2010
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Looking for something unique to play on your Playstation 3? Look no further than Quantic Dream's latest title, the PS3 exclusive 'Heavy Rain.'

Centered around the kidnapping of a young boy by a methodical, symbolic serial killer who uses origami figures and orchids as calling cards, 'Heavy Rain' puts players into four different roles: the missing boy's father, a private eye, an FBI profiler and a journalist. Each character's path intertwines with the others' as they attempt to solve the mystery of the Origami Killer.

If you're prepared for a gaming experience that relies more on emotion than ammunition, then Heavy Rain just might be for you. Think of it like this: if movies like Zodiac [Blu-ray], Seven (Single Disc Edition) and Gone Baby Gone [Blu-ray] were mashed up and made into a text-based game and then up-converted to run on the Playstation 3, then 'Heavy Rain' might be the result.

Much of the player control comes in the form of well-timed button presses and control stick/SIXAXIS moves. Most of these are done very well, though some scenes make it a bit unclear as to which move does what. There aren't many of these confusing moments, but you'll know them when you see them.

A sizable portion of 'Heavy Rain' takes place in cinema scenes, but the player gets much more control over what happens in these scenes than in other games. For example, you may be allowed to choose to shoot or not shoot a character. You don't necessarily get to aim the gun, but the moral choice is what matters here, not the precision required in some action games.

That moral choice is the crux of 'Heavy Rain,' and it factors in very, very heavily. Thankfully, your choices can drastically change the story's outcome. This is the first game I've played that allows its story to be manipulated so heavily by the player's choices, small and large, and that's very refreshing.

A game that strives so much to be realistic needs to have the technical aspects to back it up, and 'Heavy Rain' does not disappoint. The character models are some of the best I've ever seen, and although the environments don't quite hold up to the characters all the time, they're very impressive too. And, as is appropriate for a game titled "Heavy Rain," the water effects are gorgeous.

The voice acting is very good, and it's all done by actors who were digitally modeled into the game. It's pretty cool playing as a character whose voice is that of the real-life version of the character.

I picked up 'Heavy Rain' hoping to find something unique and different, and that's exactly what I got. It's not for everyone; the very mature themes and slow start may deter some players. It is admittedly strange to see nudity in a video game, but it's done well enough that it didn't take me out of the experience. And the slow start is all part of the process of hooking you in.

Think of 'Heavy Rain' as the gaming equivalent of a really good twist movie; it's well-constructed, well-acted, sometimes heart-wrenching, and you'll want to play it again right away, just to find the stuff you didn't catch the first time. If you're looking for an altogether new and engrossing experience, then 'Heavy Rain' should be next on your list.

Random note: 'Heavy Rain' actually includes a piece of paper with which you can create your own origami swan (featured in the game and its box art). During the process of installing the game to your Playstation 3, it gives you detailed instructions on how to fold the paper into the swan. It's a really nice little touch that gives you something to do during the long installation time. Thanks Quantic Dream!


North by Northwest (50th Anniversary Edition in Blu-ray Book Packaging)
North by Northwest (50th Anniversary Edition in Blu-ray Book Packaging)
DVD ~ Cary Grant
Offered by BLgroupliquidations
Price: $13.27
53 used & new from $9.72

34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you own a Blu-Ray player, you must own 'North by Northwest', April 13, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
No Blu-Ray collection is complete without a well-transfered vintage movie, and I'm happy to say that Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 masterpiece 'North by Northwest' is a worthy choice for that movie.

The film itself needs no introduction. It's a classic, pure and simple. From the wonderful performances by Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint to the jaw-dropping Mount Rushmore and (my personal favorite) crop duster sequences, 'North by Northwest' is a high-caliber suspense film, through and through.

One aspect that sets it apart from many other movies of its day is the test of time. Even though it hit movie theaters more than 50 years ago, the action and humor in 'North by Northwest' have aged very well. I still laugh out loud when I watch it, and the suspense is still just as nail-biting.

As for the Blu-Ray transfer, I don't think we could've asked for a better one. As far as I'm concerned, the purpose behind the Blu-Ray format is to make the home viewing experience as close to the theatrical experience as possible. This beautifully-produced Blu-Ray does just that. The incredibly sharp picture effectively transports the viewer back in time to a theater seat in 1959, right down to the old-school film grain.

The special features here are very impressive, including a standout documentary hosted by Eva Marie Saint. If you appreciate extras, you won't be disappointed. My favorite, for some reason, is the featurette titled "A Guided Tour with Alfred Hitchcock." It's a genuinely funny and witty look at the movie, and shouldn't be missed.

Additionally, the Blu-Ray comes packaged with a 44-page Digibook, which is a very appreciated addition. It includes facts about the production as well as profiles of the actors. Very cool packaging.

Classic movies like this are a treat to behold on the Blu-Ray format. 'North by Northwest' is no exception. If you're looking for a wonderful piece of cinematic history that showcases the format beautifully, then look no further than 'North by Northwest.' It's absolutely a must-buy.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2010 6:11 PM PST


Batman: Year One (Batman (DC Comics Hardcover))
Batman: Year One (Batman (DC Comics Hardcover))
by Frank Miller
Edition: Hardcover
24 used & new from $10.23

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful graphic novel that defines the medium of full-length comics., February 2, 2006
This book was my very first graphic novel. I'll be honest, after the greatness that is Batman Begins was released in theaters, I had to see where this origin came from in the first place. Frank Miller's Batman: Year One is what I found, and it does not disappoint in any imaginable way.

The art is excellent and surprisingly vivid after seeing shots from the Sin City comics, also by Frank Miller. The story is equally fantastic, providing not only Batman's origin, but a background on several very prominent characters within the Gotham City universe, including the future commissioner Gordon and even Catwoman. Other familiar names are mentioned in the characters' speech as well.

It's really difficult to find any flaws in this book. The Catwoman story felt a little tacked on, but this detail is miniscule. Each and every frame is crafted to perfection, making this a must-own for all who enjoy graphic novels, and especially Batman.


Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS
Offered by Duciespade LLC
Price: $30.97
199 used & new from $9.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a flagship killer app for the DS!, January 15, 2006
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Mario Kart DS (Video Game)
After a very slow start with its DS handheld last year, Nintendo finally amped up its software intensity this holiday season and released several very prominent and high-quality titles. Most notably, Mario Kart DS represents exactly what Nintendo was looking for to jumpstart its dual-screen handhelf.

This iteration of Mario Kart features everything a Kart-fan could ask for. The inclusion of both brand new and retro tracks prove game has something for the old-school gamer as well. I haven't owned a Mario Kart game since the Super Nintendo version, and driving the tracks I used to play with my dad back before the days of true 3D gaming is a welcome bonus.

The controls are intuitive and easy to learn. This game is very simple to pick up and play, but will take a while to truly master. Power-sliding becomes essential at the higher levels since the CPU players will use it liberally. Plus, the map on the touch screen is not just a gimmick; it can mean the difference between a win and a loss. The ability to see what items the characters are carrying, as well as what items are being shot at you can tell you just what to do in a tricky situation.

While they aren't at the forefront of what makes this game special, the technical aspects are topnotch, especially for a handheld. The character models may not be incredibly impressive, but they get the job done. However, the sense of speed is most definitely a staple of the series by now, and Mario Kart DS shows no shortage of speed.

Finally, the multiplayer is not only immensely fun, it represents a landmark for Nintendo. As of this writing, Mario Kart DS is one of four games that supports the company's "Nintendo Wi-Fi" online play. All the player needs is a compatible wireless connection at home or at a wireless hotspot, and he/she can play against players thousands of miles away. It works, it's fun, perhaps best of all, it's free.

Mario Kart DS is without a doubt a must-own title for the Nintendo DS. After a year without a flagship title, Nintendo finally found one, and stopped at nothing to not only deliver on its promise of a globe-spanning wireless gaming network, but a wonderful Mario Kart iteration as well.


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