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Mario Kart DS review

Eight players over WiFi? GamesMaster feels the love.

There really is a lot of love here. Wire-free online play aside, Mario Kart DS gets so much right it's untrue.

So much in fact that it's easy to forgive the fact that many of those irritating classic Mario Kart quirks have reared their ugly heads on to DS.

Let's start with these quirks to get them out of the way. 50cc mode is still painfully slow and dull as ditchwater - it was true in Double Dash and the same applies here.

It feels like your karts are driving through soup; every straight on every track seems to last an eternity, unless you have a stack of mushrooms under your seatbelt.

Then there's the small matter of Mario Kart's infamous 'cheating-scumbag' routine. Think you're home and dry on the final straight? Think again. You're only seconds away from a CPU-launched 'bluey', followed by the same procession of opponents you've been battling against on every previous race.

Yes, it still gets on our nerves, but then we expected that. It is Mario Kart after all, and we love it just the same.

First and foremost, the new and improved Mario Kart DS is all about the handling. The karts have now hit a happy medium between all of the previous games; the drift of the N64 version, the feeling of grip from the SNES and GBA games and the versatility of the Gamecube titles. It feels absolutely spot on.

Between each of the different vehicles that you unlock as you progress, everyone will find a kart and character combo that's right for them. It's irresistible!

Get stuck into 100 and 150cc modes and (although everyone, every mushroom, plumber and koopa is out to get you right down to the wire), the speed picks up immeasurably, things start getting fiercely competitive and, most importantly, the fun factor kicks in.

The new tracks are a pleasant mix. You swap between small and tightly designed tracks, to long, wide and sprawling ones, bringing a unique driving experience from cup to cup and track to track.

The range on offer here is impressive to say the least. When added to the bonus retro tracks, you have enough combinations of race types to keep you glued to multi-player races for many, many months to come.

But then there's more! The new Missions mode, while presenting a few challenges that fall into the annoying, stupid and frustrating bracket, are insanely addictive.

Little trails that require expert driving skills to earn the top ranking and, because of their short and sharp nature, are always begging for just one more go to perfect.

And then there's the rather generous multiplayer. Even with just one cart, there's a nice selection of tracks and Battle modes to get stuck into.

With everyone kitted out with a copy of the game, you'll be party to every track, mode and feature that the game has to offer.

Never before has Mario Kart offered so much content, that's so easily accessible and can be enjoyed by so many people. And that's got to be a good thing, surely?

Mario Kart DS is out on 25 November

More info

DescriptionThe online experience is limited, but it can't bring down what may be the greatest victory lap for the Kart series
Franchise nameMario
UK franchise nameMario
US censor rating"Everyone"
UK censor rating""
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)