Product Type: Nintendo Nintendo DS games
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Mario Kart DS (DS)
Member Name: jo1976
Mario Kart DS (DS)
Date: 17/11/11, updated on 30/08/13 (115 review reads)
Advantages: Multiplayer options using a single cartridge, fun, engaging, range of difficulty levels
Disadvantages: Expensive purchase price
My nine year old son has owned a DS console for a few years now, with this Mario Kart game being one that has maintained its status as a firm favourite for around two years now. Despite being released back in 2005, this game has remained a popular classic for the DS and, consequently, has maintained a high selling price.
Mario Kart is a fun racing game for the DS console, featuring the classic Mario character, alongside other favourites including Donkey Kong and Luigi. Players can choose to play as various characters and race against others in a series of different styles of race, circuits and tournaments. Additional characters, courses and content can be unlocked during the course of the game, by winning trophies, offering variety and giving the game greater longevity.
As a fun character based racing game, this is a fairly engaging and simple game to get to grips with. The racing car is controlled using the console keys with the stylus not needed at all.
There are several different modes available which all offer more variety and complexity to a straightforward racing game. It is fun collecting missiles along the routes and trying to outwit and outmanoeuvre opponents, as well as dodging those banana skins!
My son tends to play on the Grand Prix mode but there are also Time Trials which give the player the opportunity to constantly improve their speed and performance by trying to beat their own previous time. There are also a series of fairly short 'Mission Mode' mini games which help to offer variety and promote the game's longlasting appeal.
Given the simplicity of controlling the vehicles, this is a game that can readily be enjoyed by even the youngest of players. As a racing game, reading ability isn't an issue here so this is a good choice for non-readers. My four year old son does struggle to master the direction controls with enough co-ordination to come anywhere close to winning a race, but he enjoys the experience of playing nevertheless. Realistically, I would recommend this to children from around five or six upwards, by which age they should be able to control their vehicles well enough not to become too frustrated or bored.
At the upper end of the age limit, this really is a game that has a nostalgic appeal for adults and is also surprisingly addictive. The game does become more challenging as the player works their way through the circuits. There are three different difficulty levels which helps to accommodate younger (or, in my case, less competent) players as well as offering more complexity for seasoned racers.
Mario Kart works very well on a small console with the two screens being utilised very well to give both an overview of the whole track as well as following the progress of your own Kart. The cartoon-like images are bright and fun, making the game appealing to follow. I do find that the split-screen racing can make me feel a little nauseous if I've been playing or watching the game for a while although that's not something that ever seems to affect my son or husband, however long they play.
The main attraction to this game and a real bonus compared to the majority of DS games is that Mario Kart can be played by two players simultaneously, using only the one DS cartridge across different consoles. Linking up the DS consoles for this multiplayer option is very straightforward, making it something that my nine year old can do independently within seconds. This makes the game first choice for taking to Grandma's house where my son is able to compete against his cousin, even though his cousin doesn't have a copy of this game. Mario Kart also gets taken to Kids' Club during school holidays, again as it gives the game much more appeal when it can be used interactively with friends. Apparantly, up to eight different consoles can be connected using just the one game, which could lead to all sorts of chaos!
It is also possible to connect via wi-fi to other players elsewhere but my son gets much more pleasure from competing (or working as part of a team) with somebody who is actually playing in the same room as him. This multiplayer element really does make the game excellent value for money, particularly from a parents' perspective as I don't need to purchase another cartridge in order for my boys to compete against each other on their respective consoles. Dad particularly likes this feature too!
===Value for Money===
This game is still widely available but expect to spend around £20-£25 for a new cartridge which is at the expensive end for older DS games. I feel that even at this price the game offers excellent value for money, given the overall play value and ongoing appeal, particularly with its multiplayer functions.
As a parent, I'm happy to recommend this as a game that has the potential to entertain a young child, without frustrating them, but can also grow with the youngster and offer ongoing challenges and longlasting appeal across the generations. This is pricey for a DS game but is a worthy investment and also has the potential to maintain a high resale price as a second hand game.
Summary: An excellent option for playing with friends