Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Mario Kart DS (Nintendo DS) Preview

This was perhaps the most impressive DS title on show at the Post E3 Tour 2005. Nintendo had hooked up a full-on eight player wireless experience for attendees, and we took full advantage of the amount of time we were given with the title to play through over ten races in this game. If ever a title is going to sell the DS and become one of the systems definitive games, this is that title...

One criticism people levelled at Mario Kart: Double Dash!! was that it felt too far removed from the super-tight gameplay of the SNES and GBA iterations of the title. Thankfully, Nintendo have taken a move back to the classic retro gameplay stylings and bought them right back up to date with excellent graphics, sound and wireless multiplayer elements. This preview is going to focus on the multiplayer aspect of the title, so if you want to know how the game players for loners, kindly go and look elsewhere.

Screenshot for Mario Kart DS on Nintendo DS

With eight units lined up and linked together with no wires, the sight of a full on DS wireless race is an impressive. Whilst at times the connection might be a bit sluggish or faulty (this is for less than 10% of the total time we spent with the game, so no major worries), once all the units have linked together, they are quick and responsive. Connecting takes just a minute or so and doesn't involve anything complicated at all, you just have to sit there and wait. Once all the players who want to be in the game are, you pick a character and a track and the race begins.

The controls are tight and responsive all the time, and the gameplay is even better than the much loved style found in the SNES Super Mario Kart game. Gone are all the flashy, showy aspects of Double Dash!! that made it a bit of a let-down, in are the elements of Super Circuit that bring with them one of the best handheld multiplayer experiences we have ever had the privilege to enjoy.

Screenshot for Mario Kart DS on Nintendo DS

What the DS' wireless technology allows for is a whole new type of gaming experience. Before, handheld gaming was something of a solitary pastime, with connecting units complicated and involving extra cables and cartridges, but now you just grab some DS owning buddies, sit down, wait to connect and race. This very instant and casual style of play makes Mario Kart DS a hugely exciting title and when it plays so damn well, who can complain?

The controls are simple, A makes you go, B makes you stop, and the L and R buttons make you slide if held and hop if tapped and fire off weapons that you collect from the various 'Question Mark' boxes dotted about the courses. Nintendo have combined some retro arenas with totally new tracks to create a fairly extensive collection of places to face-off against up to seven friends on. All the courses we played were excellent. None of them felt too similar, and graphically they were excellent, with loads of detail and interactive course elements coming into play.

Screenshot for Mario Kart DS on Nintendo DS

Against a full array of human opponents means you have to be far more on your toes than with computer controlled foes. Grudges are held, personal battles come into play and the whole experience is far more dirty and underhand. Did DK nick that 'Question Mark' box from under your nose on lap one? With the choice between the ape and Peach to ram into with your newly acquired Star Power, the obvious choice is the former; wham, revenge.

Shouting, cajoling and general banter all make for a great gameplay experience. The group we assembled to enjoy the experience with us were all laughing, shouting and exchanging banter throughout the races, and there was a great feeling of fun amongst those playing. The game is challenging, but always fair. Good racing will ultimately prevail, but that is not to say that luck has a certain influence on results. There are some great weapons to propel at your mates in this title, weapons that can turn certain victory into devastating defeat, but we will keep those under wraps for now.

Screenshot for Mario Kart DS on Nintendo DS

Worth waiting for?

Nintendo have gone to great lengths to make sure that this game does all it can to make the most of the DS' wireless functionality. It is something of a miracle in modern gaming technology coupled with vintage gameplay and all spiced up together into an irresistible mix that just cries out to be played. The best DS game on show, no mistake.

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C3 Score

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Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10 (57 Votes)

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Preview

Oh I so need to play this one...nice preview!

well the wireless funtions of the game sounds good, but what about the other features on the DS, they are completely under used by the sounds of things. I wouldve thought seeing your oppenents weapons wouldve been a bad thing simply because there is no longer the element of suprise. Maps as a second arent very innovative and have appeared on far too many DS games.

-Have you any idea what it's like to be a Fembot living in a Manbot's Manputer's world?

What else could the second screen have been used for, really? Or the touch screen? I welcome the fact that they've not tried to shove some features into it for the sake of it, it doesn't need touch screen control, and the use of the second screen will stop the racing screen being clogged up.

That isn't really an issue, this game doesn't call for innovation, it is just showing how the DS can be used in all manner of ways. Electroplankton, Advance Wars DS, Nintendogs and Mario Kart DS are all very different, but brilliant games. :Smilie

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

yeah, it doesn't need to utilize all of the features of the DS. It uses both screens, so isn't that enough? It doesn't need to use the touch screen feature of the bottom screen. This looks like an incredible game, with addicting gameplay. I look forward to when I can play this.

I would have liked a rearviewmirror though.

And number of players: 222? That would be cool yeah :lol:

< Edited by Bartholomeus On 2005/6/15 20:29 >

Sounds like it's returning to its roots yet improving on them! Online should be a blast as well!

Now on twitter, predicting celebrity death headlines! @thedaytheydie

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I click on the link, but the review will not show.!!!!

King of the 'League of Kings'||My deviantART|| My Photography

Sounds great..Really looking forward to it. I hear an unpleasant amount of subtle Double Dash bashing in the preview though. Double Dash is a sensational game, one of the most fun mulitplayer racers ever.

Great preview.. want this game so badly..

Sounds GREAT! :-D

So does the wireless just work for local DS meet ups or is it also Internet enabled?

I can see it now....

A packed bus in a traffic jam. And eight DS owners passing the time by with this baby! Can't wait till it goes online! :-D

Most probably the best story in any RPG ever made.

I'll be playing this on the release day for sure!

Its 8 player local and 4 player internet play nry.

XBL Gamertag: James2t3

Good good, I don't know anyone with a DS and multiplayer will be excellent :Smilie

Should be fixed now, sorry for the linking error.

Trying to think of a witty signature after 'Hacker-gate'...

Must have game-definitely...

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