Friday, June 29, 2007

Mario Kart DS - Gold Trophy in all 50cc Races

Man, you sure couldn't tell that my advisor being back in town has decreased the frequency of my game playing, could you?

Mario Kart is a game that I've had for nearly a year now, but haven't really played yet. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that I am not overly fond of racing games. I appreciate a well done one, but the ones that go for all the realism and car customization just aren't for me. I prefer my racers to be arcadey and fortunately Mario Kart fits that bill. The second is that, to me, Mario Kart is a multiplayer game. I have fond memories of summers and playing Super Mario Kart and later rousing games of Mario Kart 64 with friends (mostly battle on the latter). Several nights at college were spent schooling people and getting schooled in Mario Kart 64. But playing it by myself? It just seems wrong.

Still, that shouldn't be a problem. Mario Kart DS was the first DS game to feature online Wi-Fi play so I should always have an opponent. But I had heard of rampant abuse of "snaking" (whatever that was) and other things making the game less enjoyable so I had stayed away. My play time in Mario Kart DS, thus consisted of maybe a half hour of single cartridge wireless play against friends one night. But I was determined to fix this last Wednesday when some people on a board I frequent were going to play some online Mario Kart. I figured that playing with people I had some familiarity with would be okay and it would be a good learning experience. Sadly, a mostly dead DS battery and Comcast were against me that night and I never got an online game.

I was, however, inspired to practice single player. I had heard that Mario Kart DS was one of the best Mario Kart incarnations and I can believe it. The game plays very smooth, the controls are responsive, the AI opponent's seem realistic and fair, and you can see yourself learning the strategies as you play. The courses are also very well built. The original ones are very innovative and have plenty of interesting features in them and the classic courses taken from previous Mario Kart games are awesome.

In playing, I got a chance to practice my power slide and speed boost and thus learned what snaking was. I honestly can't understand getting too pissed off by it, but then maybe that's just because I can't really do it. Oh sure, getting the speed boosts on turns isn't a problem, but on straightaways it seems much more difficult to pull off and get a boost in the right direction. I'm sure people who have practiced the game and know the courses inside and out can probably pull it off without a problem, but I don't know that I really have an issue with people that put that much time into the game doing better. It certainly doesn't seem as complaint-worthy as what I've seen.

Once you complete a set of courses (A cup, like the Mushroom Cup), you are given a ranking beyond just what place you came in. The ranking definitely seems to make the game more hard core since it isn't that hard to place first in a cup, but the ranking depends not just on place, but also time to complete the tracks and mistakes made. The ranking go from E at the lowest to A, and then to star, double star, and triple star. The best I have done is a one star ranking and that's at 50cc, the easiest difficulty.

I still want to finish up Pokemon Diamond so I don't think this game will replace it in my DS, but it is definitely a game I will keep with me on a trip to play when I want something different.

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