‘Blasphemy!’ Is how I’m sure some of you reacted when reading this headline. ‘He can’t be serious right? How can Mario Kart DS be better than classics like Mario Kart 64, Double Dash or the feature packed Mario Kart 8?!’. Well before you grab your pitchforks and blue shells hear me out, because this game, despite selling a whopping 23.23 million copies, is often forgotten when people recall the best games in Mario’s kart racing series and that’s a real shame, since Mario Kart DS is good enough to be considered the best in the series.
For starters, Mario Kart DS is basically the progenitor of the ‘modern’ Mario Kart game. Things we take for granted today were largely first introduced in this game. Drifting, drafting and the basic control scheme that has governed every Mario Kart since were all refined and perfected in Mario Kart DS and haven’t changed substantially since then. Then their’s things like online gameplay (which sadly is no longer available) and the tradition of welcoming guest characters to the fray (R.O.B. the freaking Robot!) that also made their debut here and help give the game a pioneer spirit that defined the series going forward.
But it’s not just what it started that keeps Mario Kart DS in first place, as it’s best feature is sadly one that hasn’t been since in the series since – strong single player content. Mario Kart DS features a mission mode where you are tasked with things like going through all the markers on a track, collecting all the coins or completing a lap in record time. While it may not seem like much on the surface, this mode added some much-needed depth to the single player side of Mario Kart, depth that is sorely missing in modern installments where the single player is simply ‘finish all races in first place’.
Now I’ll admit their’s a fair bit of nostalgia going into my assertion, Mario Kart DS was my first Nintendo DS game and holds a special place in my heart, but as a huge fan of the series (I gave Mario Kart 8 Deluxe a 9.3 in our review) I never got the same joy I got out of any of the later Mario Kart games as I did with the DS one. Oh sure, they all had their moments; Mario Kart Wii had excellent courses, Mario Kart 7 was a fair challenge and Mario Kart 8 is so jam-packed with content that it’s a bit ridiculous, but none of these games felt as ‘complete’ as Mario Kart DS did. Here you have a full single player suite complete with a mission mode and eight cups on top of a local and online race and battle mode. You get everything you could possible want in one package, which is why I’m confident when I say that Mario Kart DS is the best Mario Kart game of them all.
I doubt that many will agree with me in saying that Mario Kart DS is the best Mario Kart game of them all, but for me the choice is clear. It’s simply the most full-featured game the series has to offer what with its deep single and multiplayer content, excellent controls, varied track selection and fun roster (I still can’t get over that R.O.B. is in the game!). Sure future games might play a little better, have more tracks or characters but at the end of the day if you are looking for the most complete Mario Kart of them ell, look no further than the trusty old Nintendo DS.