Despite the amount of times I can bash this game, Mario Kart DS will always somehow return to haunt me. It has one of the best, if not the best, multiplayer experiences of all the DS games I've played.
Like most Nintendo games, Mario Kart DS isn't really catered to competition, even though it's a racing game. If you've played other Mario Kart games, you will know that it is a series which allows players to screw other players on the race. These are done not only by the standard racing game method of knocking an opponent away from the track, but also by the use of items. Items are obtained randomly from "?" boxes. The type of item depend heavily on the player's position. For example, first place never (at least I haven't seen it before) get anything other than banana peels and fake "?" boxes as their items.
"?" boxes that gives random items depending on your position
Here is the item list:
Banana - Comes in threes or one. Anyone who lands on a Banana peel will lose control of their vehicles temporarily.
Fake "?" Box - Anyone who lands on a Fake "?" Box will immediately be stopped in their tracks.
Red Mushroom - Comes in threes or one. Using this item will give your racer a temporary boost in speed. Quickest way to accelerate to your maximum speed.
Red Shell - Comes in threes or one. Threes will rotate around the racer when used. Opponents that get hit by a shell will immediately be stopped in their tracks like the fake "?" box. When used again, 1 shell will shoot forward and home towards the nearest opponent. Getting only one red shell does not allow you to deploy it as a shield.
Green Shell - Comes in threes or one. Threes will rotate around the racer when used. Opponents that get hit by a shell will immediately be stopped in their tracks like the fake "?" box. When used again, 1 shell will shoot straight towards the direction you are facing and will bounce like a ping-pong ball if it hits a wall. Getting only one green shell does not allow you to deploy it as a shield.
Ghost - Renders you invulnerable, invisible, and steals an opponent's item for you. Usually for people at middle placing.
Lightning - Zaps everyone on the track except you. Everyone's size will decease as with their weight (allowing you to easily knock them away from tracks) and speed. You will also cause everyone affected to lose their current items. Usually for people at middle placing.
Bomb - Upon deployment, will have a short delay before a wide explosion as big as the track's width sometimes. Everyone affected will be blasted sky high! Usually for people at middle placing.
Missile - Transform into a missile. You will basically be automatically brought forward at a high speed and will knock away any opponents in your way. Usually for people at low placing.
Blue Shell - The bane of the 1st place. This shells will home towards the 1st place racer and create a blast effect similar to the Bomb blast effect...without the delay of course. You can hear it form miles away. Usually for people at middle/low placing.
Golden Mushroom - For a limited time, you can use the golden mushroom and boost yourself as if you have unlimited Mushrooms. Usually for people at middle/low placing
Squid - Blotches everyone's DS screen with a black ink blob. Usually not very effective but at certain critical times, it will kinda screw people up.
I have the green shell!
The DS screen is split into two different parts (duh). The top screen is used for the actual gameplay, while the bottom screen can show a map view of the track with the racer's position OR a top down view of your surroundings. The top down view is able to pin-point certain traps opponents have set up for you and the rest. For example, a banana peel on the track will appear as a 2D banana peel on the top-down view at the corresponding location. These two views are interchangeable with a touch on the touch screen or the "Y" button.
Are there special techniques in this game?
There is one, and it is based on one mechanic: "Drifting". When you hold the "R" button, and hold left or right directional button, your racer will perform a small jump and start drifting (useful for facing bends for certain characters). During this state if you mash the left and right directional button, you will see blue sparks that keep appearing under the racer's cart, before it becomes an ongoing orange spark. Releasing the "R" button will give you a speed boost as if you have a mushroom.
The name of the technique is called "Snaking" and it can be quite difficult to do depending on the track. It requires you to keep doing the technique above over and over and over again until you are not confident in doing it. Usually if you drift towards your right, chances are you will need to do the next one towards your left, hence creating a snake-like motion, and ergo: "Snaking".
Here's a video tutorial by IGN on how to perform "Snaking":
Any more mechanics?
There is two more mechanic a newbie wouldn't know. First is the starting boost. When your race is starting, you can get a quick boost to get in front of everyone immediately after the countdown. The trick to doing this is to hold the accelerate button the moment the "2" is going to fade.
Sequence of events:
Countdown 3....2....(hold accelerator)...1....GO! = gain the starting boost.
The second mechanic tries to implement the "Drafting" mechanic in many racing game. When are tailing a racer at a close distance, after a certain time pass you will get a temporary speed boost. This is often used when I play with my friends.
So much about the mechanics and items, it is no wonder Mario Kart DS is a fun game to play with your friends. With yourself...hmm...not so much, but playing with your friends is always a blast. I usually have tons of fun with 4 but you can actually play with 8(!), although it will lag.
Not to mention, this game have more than 25 maps for you and your friends to play with! It is a game that can really probably last a long time if you and your friends have nothing else better to do. And not forgetting, this game actually has WiFi support!
- Great multiplayer experience
- Advance techniques to learn: Snaking, Drafting and Blue Shell dodging
- WIFI connection!!!
- Many stuff to unlock, making single player quite meaningful
- Boring minigames (that's just my opinion, but the mini-games seemed pointless to me)
NeetGeek gives this game: 9/10!