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May 25, 2015

Mario Kart DS (Part 2)

(Read Part 1 here. Also, for the first time since the creation of this website, I'm issuing a warning: Hateful comments will be deleted. I may be a jerk towards the bad games I'm reviewing, I may get vulgar and rude, but I try to never, ever insult people. I will respect your opinion even if it differs, but I will not tolerate insults or disrespect. (So far, the only people I've insulted were the guys at Data Design Interactive, and they deserved every bit of it.)

On to this review of Mario Kart DS.)

FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT FUCK IT-Oh… Um…. Hi again… Uh… welcome back to this review of Mario Kart DS. As you may have guessed, I have been rather, um, vocal about my hatred of this game… Never thought the second part of the review would start the same way the first part ended. Well, that’s embarrassing. It’s not like I spent the entire weekend repeating “FUCK IT”. But then again…

Okay, fine, fine, FINE! I’ll try to avoid saying “FUCK IT” once more. Alright? I'm probably gonna fail, but I'll try.

Good. Can I continue the review, then? Thanks.

As with many Mario games on the Nintendo DS, the Multiplayer Mode is a class all by itself. Just think of the other Mario games:
-New Super Mario Bros. has a whole Minigame Mode;
-Super Mario 64 DS has even more minigames, as well as the option to have up to four players battle to collect Stars;
-Mario Party had the regular game, as well as plenty of modes based around the minigames, and even more stuff;
-And here, Mario Kart DS let multiple players compete in the races, or in the two battle modes (Balloon Battle or Shrine Runners).

Gotta love wireless.
Oh, and you want to know what’s the best part with all of these games? The other players don’t need to own the cartridge, and yet you’ll still be able to play with most of the content in the game. Many, many Nintendo DS games demand that both players have the cartridge in their portable console. It causes a problem mostly with less popular games, the kind that fewer people own. Nintendo averted this numerous times, and that’s great. I can hate on Mario Kart DS all I want, but I can’t deny it: The Multiplayer mode is great.

Sure, you won’t access nearly as many things this way. If you play with people who don’t have Mario Kart DS, the other players will only be able to use Shy Guys as their racer, and only eight of the thirty-two courses are available (The Mushroom Cup, for the Nitro GP, and the Shell Cup, for the Retro GP). However, Balloon Battle and Shrine Runners remain untouched, and are therefore, in my opinion, the best Multiplayer Modes here.

Of course, if all the players own Mario Kart DS, it results in all the courses, all the characters and all the karts being available. Or, well… each player can select any racer and kart that they’ve unlocked in their game. As it turns out, there are not eight, but rather twelve drivers here, with four that can be unlocked as you play through the Cups. The four unlockable characters are:
-Princess Daisy (Luigi’s sweetie flower! Of COURSE she’s here, she loves sports!);
-A Dry Bones (what did you expect? A Goomba? Those harmless, armless chestnuts? Bah!);
-Waluigi (Expecting someone better instead? Too bad. Waluigi Time.);
-And R.O.B. (I guess it really wants to prove its worth, whether it’s through racing or battling…).

This reminds me that I should upgrade my website's security in case
some uninvited guests take it from me and attempt a hostile takeover.
Waluigi can do that. Others can, too.

As of now, the only one I haven’t unlocked is R.O.B.. That’s good… I guess. Then, there’s the poor Shy Guy, which you can never use in the actual game, which is kinda sad for poor Guyie. …And now I realize how stupid “Guyie” actually sounds. Also, I apologize in advance if a reader, anywhere, has Guyie as a name. Just in case. Can’t be too careful.

Racin' round, right 'round.
Would you rather play on the Wi-Fi Connection? Hah! Tough luck. It’s impossible to do now… and I never got to try it, but I know there are differences with the actual Multiplayer play. To avoid lagging, they have to cut down on the game’s material. As a result, only a maximum of 4 characters can race at once, the racers can only play on the 100cc setting, some items are removed, and only 20 of the 32 courses are playable. You could also download the game developers’ Time Trial ghost racers. That’s still pretty great. Not like it matters much to talk about this now, since the Wi-Fi Connection was terminated approximately a year ago. Still good info to give, if I want to be fair to this game. …What, because I’m not fair to it so far? Do I need to prove that I’m fair to it? Want me to show you my driver’s license? My gamer’s license? My EBGames card? My geek cred? My Mario cap? You saw that one, alright? Ah, never mind.

If yoi're lucky, you get pretty pixel-art.
If not, you get... well, take a guess.
The last bits on the main menu are Records, where you can check your GP records, your Time Trial records, and more about your list of friends. Yeah, that was when Friend Codes for the Nintendo DS were still something important. Last is the Options Menu, where you can change around Parameters, edit your nickname or erase your data, but there’s a neat lil’ feature here to discuss. You can create an emblem that will appear on the kart you pick when playing the game. It’s a cute thing they really didn’t need to add, and yet they did it, so we can thank them for that. There’s a good lot of space, so you can draw a very pretty picture and put work on this. Then again, as you can guess, a lot of gamers just can’t take their minds out of the gutter, so we ended up with numerous gamers proudly displaying genitalia on karts in a game for kids. Good work, geniuses! Mine is just a basic smiley face. Because decency is a value I hold dear. Still, this little emblem serves as a good Rorschach test: It’s like an easy way to spot the immature gamers and the dicks. No pun intended.

I think that covers everything in the game… and there’s still a thousand words to go. I could improvise a rap battle, or explain how I make my titlecards, or I could just start a new review altogether in the middle of this one… because I don’t know what else to say about Mario Kart DS! At this point, I either throw in the towel or I start rambling about how I HATE the power-sliding mechanic!

Because I do! I have every reason to hate it! It’s that fucking mechanic that makes this game impossible to beat! I try, I try, but in 150cc the opponents will all use the motherfucking power-sliding, and since they’re computer characters, they will ALL be able to do it faster and more efficiently than you. You, the player, you’re gonna stray off the road when trying to achieve that, and you’ll lose a few places, but the CPUs? Fuck no! Fuck this game! I fucking hate it! Goddammit tabarnak!

Thanks, Mr. Jackson. I could say better, but it would be
too much work.
To me, this game has the worst possible combination a video game could have, when it comes to the gameplay: A technique hard to pull off that becomes a necessity if you want to have even the slightest chances of winning the final goddamn Cups, PLUS enemy CPUs that are spamming that exact same technique… along with already being lucky and, in many cases, much faster than you. The result is a game that I’m incapable to beat. It could be easy to blame my lack of luck, yet again, but here, even if I had a rabbit’s paw around my neck, a four-leaf clover in my hair and a horseshoe up my ass, I still wouldn’t be able to beat this goddamn game. Because luck is not the factor here. This isn’t Mario Party 2 or Pop-Up Pursuit. I can complain all I want about the difficulty of some bosses in other games, whether they’re platformers or RPGs… but none of them requires ultra-complicated techniques, and none of those bosses are using the same techniques as the player, nor are they using them faster- Ah, never mind. Let’s just say that, as far as I’m concerned, power-sliding is one of the worst gameplay mechanics I have ever seen, and it kills the game for me. It’s not just a minor annoyance. No. It makes me incapable of enjoying this game.

And that’s why I’ve been alternating between aggressive, passive-aggressive, vulgar and borderline psychopath in the past ~3,500 words. I just don’t like this game. Mario Kart DS has a textbook example of a scrappy mechanic. Oh, sure, one could make the argument that it already has plenty of scrappy mechanics. But those are, for the most part, staples of the Mario Kart series in general. Blue shell, anyone? Lightning Bolt, anyone? Honestly, I could live with those two. The Lightning Bolt isn’t that bad, and the Blue Shell, while very annoying, isn’t a deal breaker for me. However, I thoroughly abhor, despise, HATE the use, overuse and abuse of power-sliding by CPU characters. I never had that trouble with Cartoon Network Racing! Fuck power-sliding. Fuck it fuck it fuck it- Oh right, I said I was trying not to do that again.

And do you want to know the worst part? If there was no power-sliding, I would love this game! Seriously!

No, not the Blooper! I still
got ink in my hair from last time!
Hard to believe? Have you noticed I’m mostly positive about Mario Kart DS so far? Have you noticed that every reason I was screaming so far was related, in a way or another, to power-sliding? The mission that stopped me dead in my tracks, because it requires too many power-slides in a too short time span. The CPUs who abuse power-sliding, making the game almost unwinnable. The COM difficulty being too high. Those are my three complaints, the ones that make it impossible for me to enjoy this game as much as I’d like to. …And yet, everything else is good!

Ook ook. DK looking great in 3D.
The CGI looks very nice, and it’s great that the developers included multiple karts for each character. That’s a nice touch, another thing they didn’t “need” to include, but they did anyway. And most of the special karts are beau-ti-ful. No need to discuss the characters, you already know it, they look great as well. As for the courses, they’re also very great, whether it’s the sixteen new courses created for Mario Kart DS, or an updated form of 16 courses from previous games. The music is also excellent, though for the Mario series that’s not really a surprise. Some of the tunes will stay in your head, given that you concentrate on hearing them rather than, you know, being careful on the road and going paranoid due to constant fear that the opponents are going to get just the right items to make you lose…

Now, the modes. I actually like them. Or, well, I like some, tolerate others. I enjoy the Grand Prix mode… up to a certain point. I never went beyond the Banana Cup on 150cc. I don’t think I need to parrot my own points yet again. However, the Time Trial and Battle modes are fun. I like VS mode, even if it’s just playing one or many courses without the stress of the Grand Prix (that is, having to end a GP in first place in order to unlock the next one). As I said earlier, I also can’t praise enough the many things that can be done in multiplayer, with a single cartridge or with many.

Still, the issues I have with Mario Kart DS are enormous, and I cannot forget about them. They taint my playthroughs, they inflate the game’s difficulty to an extreme. Hey, I said I wanted enemies on Difficult, not on Intense! In this game, Easy and Normal work like they should, but the Difficult setting (the one used for 150cc, I think) makes all your opponents nearly impossible to beat in a race or in Battle Mode. And luck won’t help you. Programming the difficulty of computer adversaries is a difficult thing to do, and a lot of games tend to make the Easy computers too easy to beat, or the Difficult computers too hard to beat… And we have an example of this here. As a result, during a race they’ll keep power-sliding, which makes them a pain toi defeat. Power-sliding is just the greatest example of a fuck-up in Mario Kart. The worst mechanic I’ve ever seen in the series.

So, my opinion stands in a few words. Is Mario Kart DS a good game? Yes. Do I like it? No.

But all of my reasons for hating it are personal, having to do with my own (lack of) talent and my distaste of overly-strong COM characters. But that’s my problem. Not yours. You’re free to like it, love it even, if those issues I bring up are not things that make you angry. My own ineptitude kills my enjoyment of this game. So if you’re not inept, if you don’t have a reason to complain, why would you? Just forget my opinion, and have fun with Mario Kart DS. I’ll never prevent you from playing it. Enjoy.

Playing was such a pain, I deserve to get paid.
Pay me! You twelve, fork over the cash!

Besides, there are other Mario games that I also slightly dislike, mostly because of one aspect that seems off. Sure, I can blame my bad luck all I want in the Mario Party series, and there’s something about the plot of Super Paper Mario that rubs me the wrong way, but I guess I’ll go back to that one at some point.

Like it all you want. Me, all I can say is: I hate it. Fuck Mario Kart DS. Fuck it fuck it fuck it- Oh, dammit, there I go again… I should calm down. Maybe if I review something good next week.,..