Cars: Mater-National review

Wait, Cars is actually a racing game this time around? Blasphemy!

GamesRadar+ Verdict


  • +


  • +

    low-frills racing

  • +

    Plenty of shortcuts

  • +

    Voiced CG clips


  • -

    Could use those extra frills

  • -

    Inconsistent frame rate

  • -

    Frequent track repetition

Why you can trust GamesRadar+ Our experts review games, movies and tech over countless hours, so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about our reviews policy.

Nov 29, 2007

This shouldn't come as a surprise, considering the nature (and title) of the license, but sadly it does: Cars: Mater-National for Nintendo DS is an actual, legitimate racing game. Why the shock? Because the original Cars game for DS made poor use of the animated license about talking four-wheelers, instead opting for an unremarkable collection of touch-screen minigames.

Luckily, Mater-National rights the apparent wrong, tossing players in the driver's seat of shiny red coupe Lightning McQueen as he takes on a series of international racers. The DS iteration drops the open-world setting of the console versions, but maintains bits and pieces of the story throughout its 17 races, including a CG intro and closer. Challenge Mode tosses another 28 events into the mix, reusing the story mode tracks with elimination, checkpoint and trophy collection variations. Single and multi-card multiplayer races for up to four players extend the experience even further once the brief narrative concludes.

As arcade-style racing games go, Mater-National is rather vanilla, with a refillable boost meter acting as the only distinctive element of the experience. Other power-ups and weapons are nowhere to be found, but the tracks do include a healthy amount of shortcuts and hazards. The desert, forest and speedway settings do not otherwise pack a lot of personality, but that's more of a knock on the license and the hardware than the development team. Rubberbanding appears to be a conscious design decision in Mater-National, as the pack always stays together and you'll have no issue catching up should you fall behind.

Mater-National starts off strong in the visual department, with crisp vehicles and environments; but the cracks (though insignificant at times) begin to show fairly quickly. Pop-in is a regular issue, especially on straightaways, as environmental details in the distance appear out of nowhere; and the typically smooth frame rate can take a major hit when multiple competitors are on screen or during sharp turns.

More info

Platform"PS2","DS","PS3","Xbox 360","Wii","GBA"
US censor rating"Everyone","Everyone","Everyone","Everyone","Everyone","Everyone"
UK censor rating"","","","","",""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Andrew Hayward
Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at