🐳 Featured Group: Gameplay feature: Auto-mapping

Mario Kart DS

Moby ID: 20164

[ All ] [ Nintendo DS ] [ Wii U ]

Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 91% (based on 94 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 94 ratings with 5 reviews)

This is pure fun for everyone

The Good
Despite it's incredibly popularity, the only Mario Kart game I've played before was the original Super Mario Kart for the SNES. The game were good but didn't age very well due to pseudo-3D graphics and bad control. Since then it seems Nintendo likes to release one Mario Kart for each of their consoles, each using the same formula. Mario Kart DS is that, the DS version of Mario Kart. And man, I was surprised how good such a simple game is.

There is a lot of different gameplay modes, in some you have to do "missions" or you can play with a friend trough the Wi-Fi connexion (something I wasn't able to test yet unfortunately). The more interesting mode (when playing alone) is of course the Grand Prix mode. You have to race through 4 "Nitro" Grand Prix and 4 "Retro" Grand Prix. Each Nitro race have 4 brand new circuits ("Nitro" is another name for the DS), and each retro race is made of already known circuits, one from the SNES, one from the N64, one from the GBA and one from Gamecube.

You pick one of the characters from the Mario series, including Mario, Luigi, Peach, Wario, Toad, Yoshi (my little favourite), Bowser, Donkey Kong and some other unlockable (why is Donkey Kong here ? Is the original Donkey Kong considered as a part of the Mario series ?), and you race against 7 other CPU controlled characters. There is 3 difficulty levels, 50cc, 100cc and 150cc, each one being harder than the previous, but allowing you to drive faster and is overall more fun.

You basically try to drive as crazy as you can and you hit boxes to collect items that allows you to attack other racers in many ways, while avoiding the attacks of other racers. Different characters and different karts allows you to drive differently, some characters are heavier, slow to accelerate, but can reach higher speeds than most (this is the case of Bowser, Donkey Kong and Wario). The light, high accelerations characters are great but easily get ejected out of the road by stronger characters (Yoshi and Toad). Some characters can be more suited for some circuits than others (typically in races with long straight lines it'd better to take Wario, but in races with lot of vicious turns Toad should be better).

After completing a circuit, you are rewarded by some number of points variable in function of where you are ranked (ideally you'd want to be 1st and get all 10 points). After all 4 circuits the sum of all your points should rank you in the first 3 to get a cup, bronze, silver or gold. You must get all gold cups in order to unlock the following Grand Prix (it's not required to be always first on each race, all that matters is the sum of your points).

The graphics are really good, most 3D games on the DS looks really bad and polygonal, but here is looks better than average, all characters are cute and there is a great use of both screen, one for the 3D view and the other for a 2D map. There is even cutscenes that shows 3D on both screens at once, which is something extremely rare.

The music is pretty good too, and the voices for the characters are absolutely awesome and very cute (the characters have a couple of joy and despair scream each, which sounds very cute). The sound effects are in full surround stereo, so when hearing a kart's motor or a character screaming you hear the sound exactly where it's source is positioned if you have headphones, which is awesome. There is remixed music from the SNES version for the SNES courses, etc... (I just tough I'd mention that) which is cool, and of course brand new music for the brand new courses.

The Bad
Something that bothers me is that when being ranked it doesn't matter how well you did, only how much you are ranked. If you are 2nd, you could be way ahead of the 1st, or be ex-echo with him, it doesn't matter, you get the same number of points. Often the ranking is tight, almost unfair.

The CPU seems to almost cheat sometimes, when the race begins I need some time to accelerate (even if I accelerate while there is still the countdown), but CPU controlled characters goes at an incredible speed instantly. How well the CPU characters takes some turns is outstanding, but sometimes they do it terribly too (fortunately for you). Probably Nintendo coded an imperfect behavior on purpose, which is a good thing, else the game wouldn't be beatable !

Item attacks are cool, but often unfair and exaggerated. The worst is a missile that systematically hit the 1st racer. This is very beneficial for the 2nd or the 3rd, but it's really frustrating if you are the 1st as you can easily be 6th in the matter of seconds if you get unlucky. Overall I'd say the game isn't too easy, but the results will depend more on luck than skill, which is not a good thing.

The Bottom Line
Mario Kart DS is an extremely good and fun game, but it's drawback is that it doesn't last very long until you've seen all there is to see. Once you complete all races of all difficulties, and unlocked all there is to unlock, the only thing you can do it to try to get better scores or to try the secondary playing modes, which are much less fun.

I guess I should find some friends with the game to race with, but then I'd have to figure how the Wi-Fi connexion works. So I'd say it's a game worth getting, it's very good and very fun, but it's not worth paying too much because it doesn't last for a very long time until you'll see everything.

Nintendo DS · by Bregalad (937) · 2008

Mario Kart continues to hit the right note...

The Good
The Nintendo DS is built for unique gameplay and design structures using a dual screen/touch screen combo. Now, you'd expect every title to use the touch screen and dual screens effectively to make the most of the DS, but that isn't always true. At least 1/4 of DS titles released over its life won't use the touch screen in its design or will use it as a bonus feature outside of the main game.

That leaves two screens to work with, and most will use the second screen as either a stats collector or perhaps a secondary perspective on the action or, even worse, not at all.

So the question is, if developers only use certain elements of the DS for its design, then why have the DS at all? Why have a touch screen if most won't use it fully? Or the second screen if they won't bother with it? That's what I was worried about when I saw the launch titles for the DS, as most didn't dive deep enough. Over time, I've seen what the DS can really do ... and then there's Mario Kart.

Put aside the fact that there is a touch screen for a moment. Mario Kart DS is, at its core, the Mario Kart we've grown up with and come to love over the years in its many versions on many platforms. Nintendo has kept to that same formula, ignoring the double driver feature used in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and instead reverting back to a Mario Kart 64 style, 3D racer environment.

Let's have a closer look now. Outside of the usual collection of tracks (there are new additions to the fold and returning favourites from all of the previous titles, hyped up using the colourful DS engine), characters and weapons, there are a few unique additions that make use of the DS in a far more appropriate way then, say, controlling your character using a stylus.

A 2D top down rendition of each track appears on the second screen, perhaps not as original as you'd think. But here's the cool catch. Not only do you see the other racers, you also see the traps, such as the green or red shells dancing around, etc. So all of a sudden, you've now got an additional tactic. Gone are the days of racing along, hoping you won't get hit while looking ahead dodging frantically when a banana suddenly appears around a corner. Now, you can see everything up ahead and behind, giving you a greater chance of getting around each track fairly intact.

The second, but most importantly the biggest, addition is Wi-Fi multiplayer. Wireless play with a bunch of mates brings back the fun of the MK64 days, without having to squint as the screen is split in 4. But it's the online Wi-Fi mode that will gain the biggest attention, and being the first title to use Nintendo's free worldwide service, it works a treat. Find a hot spot, connect via a wireless ADSL router or purchase Nintendo's cheap as chips USB connector, and away you go. It couldn't be easier, and for a blast around the track with a few other people the world over (as well as searching out friends using a simple code structure), it's a lot of fun.

Certainly, Mario Kart is better in multiplayer, but finally Nintendo have put some meat onto the single player bones of the game. The 'adventure' mode is essentially a collection of challenges using each character, 8 per level, and then a boss battle at the end. It's a great addition that I'd love to see more of in the future, for sure. Certainly added plenty of added lastability to the game, after all that racing.

Battle mode also returns as always. Along with the usual 'burst the balloons', there's also a second mode in which you must collect the shines from around the track and survive the longest with the most in hand. Another fun addition.

Technically, Mario Kart DS is a well-rounded game. The sound is as clean and fun as the series always has been, with familiar tunes in-between some original scores for each track. Character sounds are there as well.

Visually, Mario Kart doesn't push the DS completely, but it's glitch free and probably a little smoother compared to its Nintendo 64 rendition, but not as detailed as Double Dash. It won't be difficult driving your kart around the track, even without a control stick that the console titles have used well. The D-Pad does a valuable job in its place, just like the old days, so there isn't any complaining from me.

The Bad
There are a few gripes, I must admit. As much as online multiplayer is a blessing for the series, and a long time coming, what's here is barebones. There are no ladders or tournaments, outside of a ranking through Nintendo's online website. Not every character, track or game mode is available online, which is a real shame. And there are a few slowdown problems and glitches here and there, especially if you have a bad net or wireless connection, but most of that should come expected when you consider the technology. It isn't always going to be perfect.

All of the new additions don't hide the fact that it's the same Mario Kart. If it wasn't for online play, this title may have had a lower score in the end. The next lot of MK titles really needs an injection of new additions. There are some new game modes here which is welcome, but I'd like to see Nintendo branch out with the character list into its other franchises. As I've said before, Super Smash Brothers proves how popular a mashing of its characters can be, so there's no reason why Link, Metroid or F-Zero characters can't join in on the fun. It also opens up a slew of new track ideas too, which would be welcome, indeed.

The Bottom Line
Overall, Mario Kart DS keeps the No. 1 Nintendo spin-off franchise going strong. After all these years, it continues to pull in the crowds and, despite a simple online service, it still has much left in it that can be explored. It may not use all of the DS' unique features, but that doesn't hamper it one bit.

I'd personally like to see a second Mario Kart title on the DS before its run comes to and end. The dual screen functions really brings and added element of strategy to the game that I'll miss come the Revolution or the next iteration of the Game Boy.

Nintendo DS · by Kartanym (12417) · 2006

Racing's never been so funny

The Good
It's been a long time since F-Zero X arrives to the videogames world, it was the first game featuring the graphical mode called "Mode-7" and inspired an entire world making new racing games. Mario Kart maybe was influenced by F-Zero X, not directly, but it was the first one and the similarities are there.

Mario Kart DS is probably a must-have. The game features many circuits, a lot of cars to choose, many characters, different cubic capacities (as difficulty levels) and a perfect multiplayer/wi-fi system. Mario Kart DS is a great game, and maybe the best of the series, with new circuits in different tournaments and special tournaments featuring old circuits from other games of the series, Mario Kart for Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo Game Cub. It looks like a self-tribute for the series, and it doesn't matter that they're the same circuits as before, because they're as funny as always.

The game works as always, it's a racing game, your goal is to finish the first and win the championship, nothing more. You can use special objects to do that, from the classic shells to the useful star.

The game includes some new features, now it's not so easy to start with a nitro, you'll have to master your skill to perform that special nitro, and you'll need to take some time to do it. Skidding is now very important, much more than ever.

Beside the main championship, you have missions which really suits with the essence of the game. There are 6 levels with many missions, and you can unlock a special level with new missions if you achieve a star in the previous ones. That mode increases the game's length, and the perfect multiplayer system makes this game a must have without any doubt.

The Bad
As I said, to master the starting nitro is something difficult. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing, but some players may prefer the old system. Mario Kart DS is a simple game, playable by anyone, and that's something that should be in every aspect of the game.

Objects to use are funny, but when you're in the first position (also in the second position) you can only take some determined objects like bananas or green shells, and it's a little boring. You'd rather be in the last positions to take powerful objects during some time of the race. Maybe some new objects utilizable for the first positions too could make the game much more dynamic.

Not a bad thing, but something bad for the series... Maybe they're at the top of their possibilities, and maybe we will never see again a Mario Kart as good as this one, because the game has many nice features and it looks like nothing more can be done with that, just new circuits, new objects or new characters, but the essence is still the same and it cannot be modified anymore.

The Bottom Line
A must-have, one of the best racing games ever made for a portable system. It's funny from the beginning to its end, funny to be played alone or with someone. Take your shells and bananas and infest the circuits with them!

Nintendo DS · by NeoJ (398) · 2009

Good old fashioned racing fun but finally with online gameplay. An essential buy for any DS owner.

The Good
A lot! The gameplay is fast and smooth and, to put it simply, just as it should be. Most of the old power-ups return, such as banana peels and shells, but there are also two new ones. There's Bullet Bill, which temporarily transforms you into a bullet that crashes through everything, and Squitter, a squid that covers the top screen with ink obscuring your sight. The tracks are well designed and are full of stuff fans will recognize immediately, including turbo-tiles, pipes on the track and more. There are 32 tracks in total. There is the Nitro GP. This consists of 16 tracks that are all new in this version including Tick-Tock Clock, Delfino Square and the totally crazy Waluigi Pinball. Also available is the Retro GP. Long-time fans will love this since it consists of 16 tracks from previous games. There are classics such as Mario Circuit 1 from Super Mario Kart and Moo Moo Farm from Mario Kart 64. Some of the older tracks are by far not as spectacular as the new tracks but they are still great to play. It's still pretty amazing to see how well the SNES and GBA tracks have been transformed from old mode 7 graphics into 3D. Besides Grand Prix there is time trial to break records and the VS mode which is a single race on a track you choose yourself. The Battle Mode is back, too. There is balloon battle, the winner is the one that is the last one standing. You die if you lost all of your 5 balloons. A nice touch is that you can blow them up by blowing in the microphone, instead of using the select button. There is also Shine Runners. The winner is the one with the most shines. Now and then a counter starts. When it reaches zero, the one with the least shines dies. The Battle arena's include a giant Nintendo DS, an enormous cake, a big plaza with the famous Mario pipes and more. These are just as great as the tracks and are very varied. Finally there is the Mission mode. These are set on the tracks and arena's and have missions such as driving through gates in order or hitting five fish before time runs out. After you defeat a world you will even have to battle a boss from Super Mario 64 DS, which is a very cool touch to an already great addition to the series. The graphics are some of the best on the DS so far. Especially the new tracks and NGC tracks look great and are detailed. There is a lot to see from a swinging clock pendulum that blocks the road and a Mario sculpture to a market and cars driving in the opposite direction. As mentioned before, some of the older tracks look a bit too inferior to the new tracks, but it's still very nice to look at. The main characters are all present again and, just as the tracks there are some that need to be unlocked. There are not as much characters as in Double Dash on the GameCube but it's still a big gang of your favorite Mario characters. There are really a lot of karts here, such as Donkey Kong's friend Rambi the Rhino as a car, Mario's 50's style race car and Peach's Bigfoot. Eventually you'll even be able to use cars that don't belong to your selected character. But there is one addition that dramatically improves the series and it's replay value. This is the Wi-Fi play enabling you to play with people from around the world. You can create your own icon (which appears on your kart) with the build-in paint program and a nickname. These are visible in both single and multiplayer sessions. With the Wi-Fi play the series finally reaches it's full potential. Off course there is also the LAN connection with both single card play (with all players but the host playing as Shy Guy) and multi-cart play. (so you can play with all characters.) The sound is excellent, too and you'll find yourself humming along with the tunes soon. All sound effects and tunes sound crisp and clear and, if you put on the stereo sound and put the volume in the highest position, you will in pure fun-racing heaven.

The Bad
Some of the older tracks look a bit dated mostly because there is not so much to see. The creators could have put some more scenery in them. The biggest complaint about this game, however, is that only 20 of 32 tracks are playable online. I wonder why.

The Bottom Line
This is easily one of the best DS games so far and some people say it's the best Mario Kart ever making it one of the best racing games ever. This could very well be true. It looks good, plays good, sounds good, has some innovations and, most importantly, it's multiplayer supports online play, making the replayability virtually infinite. What more could you want. A gem that no Nintendo DS owner should miss. Why are you still reading this? Go buy it, NOW!

Nintendo DS · by Rensch (203) · 2005

Accessible, kid-oriented fun with outstanding gameplay

The Good
What's not to like about Mario Kart? It's built for fun from the ground up. This incarnation is still the staple of DS gaming three years after its release, and is the highest-ranking DS game on GameRankings.com (at 91.8%). Online play can get frustrating for casual players due to the overwhelming dominance of skilled snakers, but if you can't handle them then you might consider mastering the powerslide feature yourself, perhaps in single player mode.

Very well-designed tracks, loads of options (e.g. engine size) and unlockables (new characters and cars), excellent online capabilities, and even some advanced maneuvers for elite players make this as rich and compelling gaming experience as could be hoped for in this present era of video gaming.

The Bad
Eventually you may tire of this game and never want to play it again, due to the cutesy kid-oriented design ethos that is inevitable in every Mario product. I've reached saturation point twice in two years, but I do keep coming back, a little more skilled in online play than the last time.

The prevalence of 'snakers' (what some consider cheaters who employ the game's boost system to drive about 20% faster than usual) in online play makes this a bit frustrating for the casual gamer who takes winning very seriously.

And for the snaker, it can be frustrating when everyone you play quits on you, and you are deprived of your win points -- although a clever player will keep their opponents connected by not getting too far ahead, and even letting them win a race or two.

The Bottom Line
The number one reason to buy a Nintendo DS. I probably played it for about a thousand hours before finally getting tired of it, and I am very finicky about what games I spend my time on. And, I am now back to playing it about an hour a day. Great game, endless replay value, overall an outstanding title and well worth the $50.

However, if you are not all that skilled at video games that reward reflexes, dexterity, and lightning-fast judgement, then you may want to start with Nintendogs or Tetris as your first DS purchase.

Nintendo DS · by Chris Wright (85) · 2011

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Wizo, Alaka, chirinea, Big John WV, Tim Janssen, nyccrg, RhYnoECfnW, Jeanne, Patrick Bregger, Zaibatsu, Flu, Chaju, firefang9212, Xoleras, Evil Ryu, Alsy, Victor Vance, lights out party, Sciere, Jacob Gens, Sombre, Spindash.