The game has no real intro other than the main interface menu. It leads you straight to the action you’re looking for. It gives you the choice between several different game modes, which are fairly self-explainatory.
I knew what to expect from the game because Mario Kart SNES was my favorite game of its time, but non-players might be thrown into confusion. This could have been avoided by giving the game even a short intro movie.
The controls are easy to figure out. During the first race, I started reving my engine too early, and ended up spinning out, which was a little frustrating. This could have been avoided by giving you a hint on the interface of how long you should rev your engine for.
The interface is also easy to figure out (laps, race position, power-up). The power-ups arn’t all obvious as to what they do, which is part of the fun of the game. Overall, this game is easy to get into, and gets fun really quickly.
The variety of obstacles, courses, characters, vehicules, and power-ups makes the game fun for a very long time. The various levels of difficulty adds a challenge of the game, and the race unlocking adds an element of acheivement.
The new elements of this Mario Kart game, relative to its predecessors, still held suprises for me. I found that important to the game, because otherwise I would have found the game to be bland.
I enjoy the cutscenes at the start of the races, giving you an overview of the map. The bright (or exceedingly gloomy) landscapes are very entertaining to race through. The mix of 2d and 3d elements is clever, and gives an impression of surrealism. The cartoon feel of the game makes it very fun.
The intelligence of the computer players isn’t impressive. I don’t consider this game a test of wits so much as a test of quick reflexes. Most of the time, I felt myself playing the game instead of the challengers.
Without adding more elements to the game, I don’t think it’s possible to add more intelligence to the computer players. Adding more elements to the game would make it clumsier and more complicated, so I think the game is right the way it is.
The cut scene at the beginning of each race makes it easy to become immersed into the game from the very start. The vivid environements and sound effects also help.
The immersion lasts from start to race to finish. I found that if the race was on a too easy level, the game seemed repetitive, and I felt less immersed. The more constant the action is, the more immersed I felt.
The camera is fairly straight-forward, and easy to get the hang of. The camera follows you directly from the back of the vehicule, on the exeption of when drifting (which is clever; otherwise it would make me dissorientated).
The controls are easy to learn and use. However, I felt a little confused at the start of the game, since there were no instructions or tutorial to guide me. I had to figure out a few controls by myself.
I would have added a short tutorial (capable of skipping) at the beginning of the first race to avoid this frustration.
Half the race courses being reruns of the old Mario Karts was clever, and gave me some nostalgia. Being able to choose your vehicule is a fresh idea. There was nothing dramatically new from the first Mario Karts, which dissapointed me slightly.
I’m left wanting to do some intellectual, because of how unstimulating the game gets after awhile. I find it conveniant for Mario Kart DS to be made for a portable console, because it gives me access to a portable quick action fix.
I would describe the high point of the game as being: “A fun racing game with a couple of twists. Vivid worlds and simple yet elegant game controls offer a couple of minutes of satisfying fantasy action.”