Mario Kart DS (Single Player) (Nintendo DS) Preview

By Jorge Ba-oh 16.06.2005

As with our multiplayer experience of the highly anticipated Mario Kart for the DS, there was also a single player unit ironically sitting all alone in one corner for a soloist like myself to give a full hands on experience. Whilst Mario and his karting chums have been the highlight of many multiplayer experiences, the single player aspect is usually a little less exciting. With the refinement and pure enjoyment expressed in our multiplayer hands on, does the single player experience sit along side or is it best left for the lone wolf, er, player. Read on...

Mario Kart has been one of Nintendo's most key franchises with any system having had three successful home console iterations, a superb handheld version and an arcade edition. A cheer emblazons the gaming community as the DS version was announced to be in the works, but some critics were slightly sceptical given team Nintendo's latest: Double Dash. Although breaking the traditional mould for the series in a very different experience, fans had found it didn't quite have the same feeling as past titles. The single player aspect of any game, yet alone Mario Kart, is something that's always discussed as a selling point. In the series, primary focus has always been set to multiplayer, but with all the wireless shenanigans going on, this sole gamer had a sit down with the single player mode instead.

Whilst some may think the idea of more natural computer racers detracts from the overall challenge, perhaps so, but it brings a stronger element of realism to the single player aspect. The length of courses allows for place shifting, but fortunately allows for catching up and variety within play. That said, other courses in the 30+ selection will presumably offer a lot longer and shorter courses, but the growing trend seems to be tight, classic gameplay and style. Unlike Double Dash, gameplay seems to be a lot more centred on the pure racing element that past titles had expressed, in particular Super Circuit. The winding roads, tight corners of familiar locations return, with a high sense of speed and action at every turn. Past footage of the game in action suggested a slightly slower pace with some critics complaining of the general speed of the title. This has all changed. Mario's company has fuelled the new design with extra juice for in the high class the sensations is comparable to Super Circuit, if not faster. Control at the highest speed perhaps takes some time to get to grips with for at times it felt somewhat loose but allows for intense and exciting racing action.

The general control scheme has been untouched from previous versions, A to accelerate, B to brake with the shoulder buttons offering weapon firing and classic hop and power slide from the N64 version. The touch screen provides the player rankings, keeping the main view very clean and making good use of the size, along with a detailed map and item availability to offer some strategy over foes. That said seeing what items players have and are using could ruin the element of surprise but in a general gameplay scenario the second screen is rarely used.

Mario Kart DS combines the simplicity of the past titles with gorgeous 3D visuals and an untouched gameplay and control scheme. Whilst the single player mode perhaps has to come a long way before having the same appeal as the multiplayer experience, the current build shows a lot of promise. Super Circuit had replay in the ease of picking a track and racing, along with the wealth of unlockable features to enjoy; hopefully the same will apply in this case. Regardless of outcome, Mario Kart DS overall is definitely looking to be one of the best in the series, encapsulating all the best elements of past versions into a portable unit.

Final Thoughts

The single player mode certainly seems to be more appealing in terms of course selection and the complexity and variety in AI. Hopefully the final version will be as playable and enjoyable as the multiplayer aspect. From what we played Mario Kart DS has been taken back to its roots, sprinkled with a fresh new look and feel to produce what promises to be one of the best games this year.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

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

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


I really enjoyed the title during my hands-on experience, the single player aspect is sure looking good, but it is difficult to tell whether there will be enough in the final version for an as enjoyable experience for soloists.

Enjoy the preview guys!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

Gosh I couldn't be getting anymore excited. This will ROCK! :-D

This one's a sure system seller. :Smilie

Gotta hit Europe soon coz all this PSP hype is getting on my nerves.....

People should remember that the karts in MK64 were sprites, so to handle better graphics (particularly the textures from the sound of things) AND full 3d characters is actually a fair jump forward from that.

See no Wiivil
Hear no Wiivil
Speak no Wiivil


GO JB!!!!

Thanks for the coverage a lot dude.

This game sounds fantastic, thanks for all this coverage!

Looks Brill!

I dont know anyone else woith a DS, but i'll get this game anyway :-D
Just for the single player perhaps(although there is online) :-D


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