Mario Kart DS - Review Part 2 << Mario Kart DS review part 1
Finally, there are two battle modes, namely balloon battle and shine runners. Balloon battle is our favourite. Each character is given three balloons, which must be blown up by huffing into the DS's microphone. There's no track to race around, just an arena littered with weapons. The aim of the game is to burst all your opponents balloons by flinging weapons at them. Shine runners is similar but is played over a series of timed rounds. The game places shines (yellow sun-shaped tokens) around the arena. The characters need to grab these as quickly as possible, since when a round finishes the player with the least amount of shines is eliminated. It's also possible to steal shines by hitting other drivers with weapons. Naturally, if you can find some friends to join in on the action, the battle modes become a lot more fun. Since both Mario Kart and the DS are perfectly suited for multi player action, it's about time we explored the multi player modes the game offers.
| Balloon Battle is superb fun with friends
For Mario Kart DS, Nintendo have delivered a superb assortment of multi player options. There's DS download play for up to eight players, though this is limited to a selection of the smaller tracks. If you're friends have their own copy of the game, you can enjoy the best multi player Mario Kart possible, with all tracks available for you to race on. Multi player sessions like this get noisy, turning even the most sedate adults into over-excited children. Mario Kart has always been designed to keep racing close. When you're in last place you'll find yourself getting more turbo boosts, or Bill Bullet power-ups (these temporarily transform you into an invincible missile that travels at super high speed around the course). Even a terrible race can quickly turn itself around. Of course, this can mean having victory snatched from you by a less skilled opponent after driving a perfect race, but there's always chance to get your own back on the next circuit. Balloon Battle and Shine Runners are also available on both single card and multi card play modes and are both superb fun. A room full of people desperately huffing into their DS microphones can be quite comical.
Mario Kart DS was also the first version of Mario Kart to feature on-line play. Through the Nintendo Wi-Fi you can connect to the internet and challenge opponents from all over the world. Racing faceless adversaries across the internet is fun, but not as much fun as taking on opponents in the same room. It is a shame that Nintendo could not have allowed for voice chat over the DS's microphone, though it isn't surprising that this wasn't included considering the huge number of children who love Mario Kart. For the most part, on-line play works well, with little noticeable lag. It's a shame then that so many players have a habit of disconnecting before the race finishes, if they think they are going to lose. This ends the race for everyone and is very bad manners, but goes totally unpunished by the game. If you have friends who are also on the Nintendo Wi-Fi service, you can exchange friend codes with them and race them across the internet. Handy for those times when face to face racing isn't possible.
Nintendo have certainly delivered the goods with Mario Kart DS. There's plenty of excitement and fun for fans of the series, as well as newcomers. The rude disconnecting that on-line opponents frequently do can be annoying, but local multi player is perfect. The handling will suit novice players and experts alike and the weapons are finely balanced so that they rarely feel over powered and instead keep the racing action close and exciting. Many players consider this version of Mario Kart to be the best ever, besting even the big screen Wii version (which introduced simplified drifting and motorbikes, amongst other things). If you like racing games, Mario Kart DS is an essential part of your DS game library. Race off and shell out for it pronto!
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