In the past couple of weeks, I’ve started playing my Nintendo DS a lot more than my PSP. I forgot how simple and fun the games for DS are. They’re really for the whole family, and now that I’ve got a young son, I am definitely more attuned to family-friendly products. I saw Mario Kart DS at the store the other day, remember how much fun I had playing it on Super Nintendo many years ago, and decided to buy this latest version. Here’s what I think of it.
The basic premise of Mario Kart hasn’t changed over the years. You get to choose from one of eight Mario-related characters, including Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong, and then race around different tracks in go carts. This would be fun enough as a driving game, but that’s not all there is to Mario Kart. The best part of the game (in my opinion) is the way you can collect “items” while you’re racing. The items can then be used to attack your opponents to give yourself a bit of an advantage. For example, you can throw turtle shells at the carts in front of you to knock them over or you can drop a banana peel behind you to cause carts to spin out.
There are three different cart sizes to choose from (50cc, 100cc, and 150cc) and approximately 32 (?) different tracks to race on. Some of these are available right from the beginning, but others have to be “unlocked” by winning races. As you move up from the smaller carts to the bigger ones, your opponents become faster and more aggressive, so winning becomes increasingly difficult.
Unlike other driving games, controlling the cart in Mario Kart DS is easy enough that anyone (including my 4-year-old) can pick it up and start playing within minutes. Even so, there are advanced techniques that will take more time to master and thus give you something to shoot for.
Other features of the game include head-to-head as well as online play, and various “missions” that you can go on while in single player mode. I haven’t tried any of these extras yet because I’m still having a blast with regular gameplay.
Overall, I think Mario Kart DS is an awesome game for people of all ages and skill levels. I give it 9.0 stars out of 10 and highly recommend that you buy it!