Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart is on its way to the Nintendo DS, and we have an early first look at this late 2005 title!
Do you remember that scene in Ferris Bueller's Day Off where Ben Stein keeps repeating, "Bueller?" "Bueller?" Doesn't that pretty much characterize the Nintendo DS?
As a DS owner, it seems like all I'm asking is "Nintendo?" "Nintendo?" I mean seriously, the company drops this dual screen compact onto our laps and then proceeds to release almost no software for it. Meanwhile, the PSP already has 2,372,783 different games on store shelves and it only came out less than three weeks ago!
Anyway, the DS is going to play host one day (though chances are I'll be retired with 5 grandkids) to several noteworthy games, chief among them Mario Kart. Yup, everyone's favorite Mushroom Kingdom racing franchise is coming to the Nintendo DS, and based on what I've seen, it's coming along very nicely.
Mario Kart DS is a fully 3D game starring our favorite Shigeru Myamoto characters, so you'll be able to select from Mario, Luigi, Toad, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Yoshi, Princess Peach, and Wario, among others, and then hit the bricks, pavement, sand, and other surfaces in several colorful environments, including one that actually includes the eerie house from the GameCube title Luigi's Mansion.
Also, just like in other versions, there are magic boxes scattered about the tracks that when run through yield all sorts of crazy power-ups such as bananas and turtle shells. Unfortunately, there isn't any dual cart action as seen in Mario Kart Double Dash, but this DS game should be just as enjoyable as its 16 and 64-bit cousins.
When I learn of a new DS game the first thought that comes to mind is finding out how it utilizes the system's unique abilities, but in Mario Kart's case it doesn't do anything exciting. The top screen is where all of the action occurs and the bottom just shows a mini map of the track as well as where you and your opponents are.
In terms of controls, there's nothing thrilling about the scheme. You accelerate with A and brake with B, and one of the shoulder buttons is for using weapons. Steering is mapped to the system's digital pad, so it appears that the touch screen is used for absolutely nothing unless there's something Nintendo hasn't shown us yet.
Visually, Mario Kart DS is definitely a little better looking than its N64 counterpart. Everything is in high resolution, and the characters as well as the environments are detailed in that trademark Nintendo way. The crowd in some of the earlier levels is that yucky-looking smooshed mess that's often seen in PSOne racing games, but the characters look as they should and the levels resemble those found in earlier versions. Also, everything moves at a consistently fast frame rate, even when up to eight players are wirelessly battling each other.
I really wanted to do a preview on this game (and as you can see, I accomplished what I set out to do), but while writing it I became pretty annoyed because Mario Kart DS, for whatever reason, isn't coming out until November. It's just as bad as watching Metroid Prime Hunters ads on TV when I know that the game isn't hitting stores until late this summer. However, it is something to look forward to, and during E3 Modojo will have a bigger and much more in depth preview for you to read. Till then, enjoy one of the DS' other quality games, such as... and... and... oh just go import Electroplankton!