Preview By: Andrew Joy
|# Of Players:||1-8|
|Accessories:||Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection|
On November 14th, gamers will get their first chance to take their Nintendo DS online with Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. One of the first games to take advantage of this will be the much-anticipated Mario Kart DS. Players have been enjoying this fan-favorite Kart racing series since the SNES, and when they take their places on the starting line come November there will be plenty they recognize from the long-running series.
In an attempt to better level the playing field, Nintendo has provided a wider variety of karts to choose from. It is all sort of give-and-take when it comes to kart and character selection now. For instance, a kart that has a greater chance of picking up rare items (a new kart trait in the series) will have a more limited top speed. Now, players will have to take a little more time in deciding which combination of kart and character to choose, especially against unpredictable opponents miles away.
When it comes to opponents, Mario Kart DS will provide you with several types. The online mode, via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, is probably the most anticipated, and for good reason. Nintendo has revealed that players can have a friend list of up to 60 people, which they can build up manually by exchanging codes with one another, although Wi-Fi racing is limited to four people at a time. The game's Wi-Fi will also match players up with others at the same skill level, decided by many factors (and they can even exchange and race against each other's ghost data). Players you meet through local Wi-Fi and race with will automatically be added to your friends list. Mario Kart DS also has a decal editor, allowing gamers to create 32x32 custom decals to help themselves stand out from the pack. This is not a luxury players will have with single-card download play, in which every player without a card will simply appear as a Shy Guy, though it does allow for up to eight racers!
In an all-new mode, you and your fellow racers try to collect as many Shines (the little stars from Super Mario Sunshine) as you can while completing the course and attacking your opponents to make them lose their own collected shines. Time Attack makes a return as does Balloon Attack, which allows you to have up to five balloons in Mario Kart DS. Nintendo makes it clear that this time around, Mario Kart has far more to offer than just the oh-so-fun exploits of tournament racing. This new direction, breaking from the singular objective of just racing, is also present in the single player levels of Mario Kart DS. The new Mission Run mode gives players a specific kart and specific goals, such as using items to clear away swathes of crabs or racing through tire-shaped goals. Doing well in these missions will unlock new things in the game. Only karts have been specified as items you can unlock, but several keen-eyed gamers have seen clues of extra racers and a lot of us are hoping for extra tracks and items as well.
Of the racing items available on the tracks, Nintendo included lots of classic items and lots of new ones, too. Two of the announced new items include a special spray of ink, which turns the opposing player's screen black, forcing them to race by the map screen alone until it wears off. And there is also an item that turns your character into a Bullet Bill, sending them speeding off uncontrollably and automatically hitting players.
The tracks have just as much variety too, giving you a set of favorite tracks picked out by designers, and some new ones, including one themed after Luigi's Mansion.
Though Mario Kart DS is released on the 14th of November, some gamers may be holding out for the special Mario Kart DS Bundle. The bundle, which will retail for $149.99 includes a Hot Rod Red Nintendo DS, with a special checkered flag designed wrist strap, a copy of Mario Kart DS and a set of racing-inspired decals. The unfortunate thing about this bundle is that it comes out two weeks after the game itself does! If you can wait that much longer to cross the starting line, or if you don't own a DS yet (the bundle saves you about $15 or so), then it may be worth it. However, with new courses, new items and detailed racing specs in the first Nintendo game to go online, I can't see how anybody could wait...I know I can't!
Posted: 2005-10-23 05:35:09 PST