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Jan 15

Mario Kart: My Thoughts

It’s an interesting truism that when you have lots of full games to play through, the desire to review games, and in general, to write anything diminishes.

Before Christmas, after great delay I picked up Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Then for Christmas I got my beloved Nintendo DS with Mario Kart. Then when we got back I picked up Donkey Kong Country 3 and Touch Golf: Birdie Challenge.

Stuck at home last week, I spent all my time between SA, DK3 and Golf, and didn’t even think about reviewing anything.

But the time has come to add my views to the cacophany of voices crying in acclamation of Mario Kart for the DS.

As trademe prices for DS games soared in the run up to Christmas, I was forced into the realisation that I would have to pick just one game to have with my DS on Christmas day. I thought about it, and was in little doubt that Mario Kart was the game to carry the burden of Christmas excitement. This was based on the fact that I knew from playing previous versions that I love the MK concept and that when searching gamerankings for all DS games sorted by the ratings of the main sites, MK comes out on top with 97.7%.

So, to the review.

When you start MK, you already have a huge amount of content open to you, but there’s much more waiting to be unlocked.

You start out with three engine classes (50cc, 100cc, and 150cc) that represent three difficulty levels. Within each of these engine classes you have various race modes. I only played grand prix. All the normal characters are available, eight in total, with an additional two that can be unlocked. You start out with relatively limited kart selection, but eventually you can choose between 36 karts. Within the grand prix you have two categories of race series, original and classic.

Each of these categories contains two series which are available and two which must be unlocked by finishing first in each of the available series. Each of the series has four tracks, adding up to sixteen tracks available at the outset which can be doubled by unlocking series, and doubled again once you open up the “mirror” engine class which allows you to play every track backwards.

By the time I’d achieved all this, I’d definitely got my money worth out of the game. However, MK isn’t finished here.

It has a mission mode with six levels. In each of the levels there are eight missions (like driving backwards around a course or collecting all the stars) and then a boss. These can be quite challenging and enjoyable at times. There are also a few other single player modes that I didn’t really get into.

And we haven’t even touched multiplayer! I would hazard a guess that multiplayer is the primary reason that MK got such high reviews. It features flexible play with other DS owners by local wireless or racing against fellow players through Wifi. It works! I have yet to find another player in my vicinity, but I can proudly say that it was a breeze to connect by DS to my wireless network and play others over the system of tubes.

So. We have quite possibly the best value game ever produced.

But was it good? No one wants to read a 10,000 page novel if it’s like swallowing 10,000 golf balls.

The answer is yes, if you know what you’re getting.

Mario Kart shouldn’t be confused with a PC/PS2/Whatever racing game. At no point do you desire a wheel to steer with. It’s pleasure is more in battling the other karts than in pure racing. This is because you could drive the perfect race, then get hit by one of those damn blue flying shells right at the finish line.

The fact is that Mario Kart is fun. It is so much fun that you just want to keep playing and playing and playing.

It’s not surprising that it got 97.7% from gamerankings, it deserves every hundredth.


Tomorrow….San Andreas

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