Video Game Review: ‘Mario Kart’ launches DS style

“Mario Kart” fans cherish the widely known series, not only for its single-player game play, but also for its addictive, hectic multi-player races.

With “Mario Kart” for the Nintendo DS, both of these aspects have been improved upon greatly.

The single-player side of the game retains the typical races against the computer (on 32 race tracks, 16 of which are classics from the other four games in the series), time trials and unlockable characters. In order to flesh out the single-player experience, a brand new mission mode was added to this list of series staples.

Mission mode is exactly what it sounds like. There are more than 50 goals for players to finish as quickly as possible.

Whether it be driving through gates within a certain time or defeating a classic “Mario” villain in a boss fight, these tasks are a fun new way to play the game.

Most important in many player’s eyes is the multi-player experience. It was always a treat for four people to gather around a television set and duke it out on the racetrack.

The basic game play has remained the same: players choose a character of their choice from the mushroom kingdom’s roster and race around tracks while avoiding numerous “Mario”-themed hazards.

During the race, items can be picked up to be used against other racers.

For instance, banana peels can be placed in strategic positions on the track in the hope that another player will drive over it, causing them to spin out and lose precious seconds of racing time.

Though not much has changed in the formula, some slight improvements have been made to make game play more customizable.

Players can now choose exactly how many races they want to play and on which racetracks to do so.

Creating one’s own cups takes away some of the monotony that plagued previous versions of “Mario Kart” over time.

The same customization is available for the two other modes. The first of which is the traditional battle mode, where the sole purpose of the game is to use the acquired items to hit your opponents.

The other mode is the “Shine Runners” game, in which a set amount of special items called shines are randomly placed on the field to be picked up, and hitting an opponent causes them to lose one.

Whoever has the most shines when time runs out wins.

After years of playing traditional battle mode, it is wonderful to see a brand new mode that is every bit as fun as its predecessor.

As fun as these improvements are, they are not nearly as significant as the brand new online feature.

By accessing any hot spot, “Mario Kart” owners can play up to three other people in a series of races.

It is a great addition, especially for “Mario Kart” fans who don’t have any friends who like the series.

“Mario Kart” is actually the first game to use Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Connection, a service that allows DS owners to play against others wirelessly, completely free of charge.

It’s a great system, but it does have some flaws.

For one, players tend to drop out of races when they are losing in order to prevent that loss from being recorded in their statistics.

Also, only 20 of the 32 tracks are playable online, with many of the game’s best tracks being omitted due to technological constraints.

Still, the price is right for an adequate online service.

“Mario Kart DS” certainly does a lot right and very little wrong.

It is one of the best in the series, and definitely one of the best games to be released this year.

If you own a DS and want a game with some longevity, “Mario Kart” is the answer to your gaming prayers.

Matthew Loriso can be reached at

Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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