Mario Kart

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Posted by motoman 03/26/2009 @ 14:07

Tags : mario kart, video games, entertainment

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Mario Kart

Mariokartwii sslg3.jpg

Mario Kart is a series of go-kart-style racing video games developed by Nintendo as a series of spin-offs from its trademark Mario series of platformer adventure-style video games. To date, there have been eight Mario Kart games; four for home consoles, two for portable consoles, and two arcade games. The series debuted in 1992 with critical and commercial success; success that subsequent games have continued to receive. Mario Kart Wii, the eighth and latest installment was released in April 2008 and has sold over 13 million units worldwide. This makes the game the 4th best selling game for the Wii. Overall, the Mario Kart series has sold over 52 million copies.

In Mario Kart, players choose from characters from the Mario series of video games and race vehicles around a variety of tracks to win trophies. In the first seven games players only raced in go-karts; but in Mario Kart Wii players race in an array of different karts and motorbikes. All of the games have consisted of three engine classes that players can choose to race in: 50cc, 100cc and 150cc. Players can obtain items by driving through (or over in Super Mario Kart) item boxes or coins, which can be used for either defense, offense or by powering up the engine for a short amount of time (boost). Each Mario Kart game features several gameplay modes, which can be played in both single player and multiplayer. The different gameplay modes are below.

In Grand Prix, the characters compete against each other in a themed cup. Most games in the series have consisted of four cups: Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup and Special Cup. These cups have new race tracks. In Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii, there are an extra four cups that consist of tracks from previous Mario Kart games, called the Shell Cup, Banana Cup, Leaf Cup, and Lightning Cup.

The player wins the cup by receiving the most points throughout the Grand Prix. Points are allocated based on the position the player finishes in. Mario Kart Super Circuit, Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii also feature a rating system, which, from lowest to highest, is E, D, C, B, A, *, ** and ***. The player's rating is based on how well he or she played in a cup, such as performing mini-turbos, avoiding items, etc.

In Super Mario Kart and Mario Kart Super Circuit, while racing on a track players are to pick up coins. Once ten or more coins have been obtained a player's car can reach maximum speed. However, if a kart is hit by any items, bumps into another car, or falls of the track, coins will be lost. These coins can also determine a player's rating and unlock other tracks.

In Time Trial or Time Attack the goal is to achieve the fastest time in the chosen track. In some series, players have been given up to three mushrooms (speed boosts) which they can use any time during the race. Once a record is set, the game saves a "ghost," a replay of the set record, to compete against. In Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Mario Kart DS, and Mario Kart Wii, the developers put in their own "Staff Ghosts" for the player to race against. They must be unlocked by achieving a certain time which differs on each track. In Mario Kart Super Circuit and Mario Kart DS, it is also possible to download a ghost from friends. In Mario Kart DS, two ghosts (the player's own and a friend's) can be saved. In Mario Kart Wii, ghosts can be downloaded from across the world via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There are two sets of staff Ghosts in-game--one available at the start and a faster ghost that is unlocked after the player achieves a certain time in the Time Trial or Time Attack.

In VS. mode, multiple players can compete against each other in a race. The one who crosses the finish line first wins. Depending on the platform, up to eight players can play simultaneously. Racing against CPU opponents was for the first time an available option in Mario Kart DS.

In Battle Mode, every player is assigned a set of balloons that can be popped. The aim of battle mode is to pop the opponent's balloons by attacking him or her with items. Once all balloons are popped, the player loses. In Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii, another type of Battle Mode games involves acquiring more coins than an opponent. There have been several types of Battle Mode games, and they can be played in teams or "free for all" mode. Some items do not appear in Battle Mode because of the sheer advantage they give their users. Mushrooms were removed before the stealing of balloons was introduced in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!. Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii are the only games where players can battle against computer-controlled opponents.

Mission mode is only present in Mario Kart DS and includes several levels, each of which contain nine challenges (one of which is a boss battle). These challenges range include collecting X number of coins, driving through X number of gates, destroying X number of enemies, etc. The player is given a grade upon completing a mission, with E being the lowest and three stars being the highest (same as race ratings in Grand Prix mode). There is only one mission level to start with, but by beating each mission level's boss players can reach level six, and, by achieving a rank of at least one star in all missions, level seven.

Mario Kart consists of 9 main characters and a large amount of other characters that have infrequent appearances.

Bowser, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Mario, Peach, Toad, Wario, and Yoshi are the are the main characters in the Mario Kart series. They have appeared in most the games are are generally characters that don't need to be unlocked. More recently, Daisy and Waluigi have became main characters as their appearances have become more frequent. A comprehensive list is below. Shaded cells denote unlockable characters.

There are 24 other characters that have appeared in the series. Most of these characters must be unlocked before they can be used. The majority of these characters don't appear in the first three games in the series, and most of them appear in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Kart Wii. Shaded cells denote unlockable characters.

This mode was introduced in Mario Kart DS. Abbreviated as WFC, this mode allows players to use Nintendo's online gaming service to match up against other players elsewhere in the world, nationally, or with comparable skill levels. Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Mode also includes a "friends roster" which allows a player to play with a group of people he or she knows. Wi-Fi gameplay follows the same scoring as multiplayer VS matches, except with a limit of 4 players instead of 8. Also, only half of the courses available in vs matches are available in Wi-fi.Mario Kart Wii also makes use of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, in which up to twelve people can race online via Wi-Fi.

Mario Kart has received positive reviews throughout the series. The aggregate review scores for each series is listed below.

Mario Kart has also had a range of merchandise released. This includes a Scalextric style Mario Kart DS Figure-8-Circuit. It came with Mario and Donkey Kong figures, while a Wario and a Luigi are available separately.

A line of remote-controlled Mario Karts are available in stores. Each kart has a Game Boy Advance-shaped controller, and features forward driving and rotates when put in reverse, instead of steering. The current line-up of karts are Mario, Donkey Kong and Yoshi. There are three large karts that depict the same trio. These karts are controlled by a GameCube controller shape.

Japanese figurines of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Wario, Donkey Kong, and Bowser exist.

For Mario Kart 64, figures of Mario, Luigi, Wario, Bowser, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi were made by Toybiz.

There are also pull-back karts of Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, DK, Yoshi, and Wario as depicted in their Mario Kart DS karts.

They have pull back karts for Mario Kart Wii and they consist of Daisy, Bowser, Mario, Luigi, Peach, Mario, Toad, DK, Wario, Baby Mario, Baby Peach, Waluigi, Mario on a bike, and Peach on a bike.

They have phone straps of Baby Mario, Baby Luigi, Baby Peach, Baby Daisy, Toad and Toadette in standard bike s or the cheep charger.

They have plain figures of all the characters from Mario Kart DS in there standard karts.

Because of the tremendous success of the Mario Kart franchise, Guinness World Records awarded the series with 5 world records in the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008. These awards include, "First Console Kart Racing Game", "Best Selling Handheld Racing Game", and a mention of Mario Kart Arcade GP as the only Mario Kart game to feature guest appearances by non-Nintendo characters, with Pac-Man, Blinky, and Ms. Pac-Man available as playable characters.

The Mario Kart, world Championship was held in Sydney Australia in 2005, where Zie Rad out-raced Shae Ryan to win the title. Shae was declared runner up in this event and Zie was crowned World Champion.

In Nintendogs, players can find a remote-controlled Kart during walks. There are three different karts, the Mario Kart, the Bowser Kart, and the Peach Kart. Each version of Nintendogs has only one type of kart.

Several Mario Kart-related items appear in the Super Smash Bros. series. In Super Smash Bros. Melee, a trophy of a kart from the Mario Kart series is available. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, a new item, Lightning, which is from Mario Kart, was introduced and one of the stages is themed after the series' leading stage, Mario Circuit, with a look based on Figure-8 Circuit from Mario Kart DS. It features arranged versions of the music that accompanies Super Mario Kart's Mario Circuit, Mario Kart 64's Luigi Raceway, Mario Kart DS's Waluigi Pinball, and the original score of Mario Kart: Double Dash's Rainbow Road.

The Mario Kart 64 version of the Rainbow Road track makes a cameo in F-Zero X, also for the Nintendo 64. The stage is similar, only missing rails on many straightaways. The Special N64 Disk Drive also allowed the F-Zero X Expansion, which added the music that accompanies Mario Kart 64's Rainbow Road, remixed in F-Zero-style rock.

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Super Mario Kart

The Super Mario Kart character select screen showing the playable characters as rendered sprites. From left to right: top row - Mario, the Princess, Bowser, Koopa Troopa; bottom row - Luigi, Yoshi, Donkey Kong Jr., Toad.

Super Mario Kart (スーパーマリオカート ?) is a go-kart racing game developed by Nintendo EAD for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The first game of the Mario Kart series, it was launched in Japan on 27 August 1992, in North America on 1 September 1992 and in Europe on 23 January 1993. Selling eight million copies worldwide, the game went on to become the third best selling SNES game of all time.

In Super Mario Kart the player takes control of one of eight Mario series characters, each with differing capabilities. In single player mode players can race against computer controlled characters in multi-race cups over three difficulty levels. During the races, offensive and speed boosting power ups can be used to gain an advantage. Alternatively players can race against the clock in a Time Trial mode. In multi-player two players can simultaneously take part in the cups or can race against each other one-on-one in Match Race mode. In a third multiplayer mode – Battle Mode – the aim is to defeat the other player by attacking them with power ups, destroying balloons which surround each kart.

Super Mario Kart received positive reviews and has been praised for its presentation, innovation and use of Mode 7 graphics. It has been ranked among the best games of all time by several organisations including Edge, IGN, The Age and GameSpot whilst Guinness World Records has named it as the top console game ever. It is often credited with creating the kart-racing sub genre of video games, leading other developers to try to duplicate its success. The game is also seen as having been key to expanding the Mario series into non-platforming games; a diversity which has lead to it becoming the best selling game franchise of all time. Several sequels to Super Mario Kart have been released, for consoles and in arcades, each enjoying both critical and commercial success. Whilst some elements have developed throughout the series the core experience from Super Mario Kart has remained intact.

Super Mario Kart is a kart racing game featuring several single and multiplayer modes. During the game players take control of one of a selection of Mario series characters and drive karts around Mario series themed tracks. Whilst racing the player's viewpoint is from behind the kart, the view behind the kart can be displayed on the lower half of the screen in single player mode. In race modes players attempt to finish in front of other opponents – which can be computer controlled or controlled by other human players – or aim to complete a circuit in the fastest possible time. There is also a battle mode in which the aim is to attack the other human player. During races players can pick up power ups by driving over question mark tiles on the track; these are used to gain an advantage during the race. Examples of power ups include shells and bananas which cause racers to spin if hit and stars which make the player temporarily invulnerable to attack. Computer players have specific special powers associated with each character, that they are able to use throughout the race. In competitive race modes coins can be picked up along the tracks. Having more coins increases the racer's top speed and protects player's from spinning when hit by another kart, they instead lose a coin. Players also lose coins when they are hit by power ups and when Lakitu returns them to the track after they fall off. Players are able to "power slide" around corners in order to maintain their speed, although power sliding for too long causes the kart to spin. Karts are also able to hop which can facilitate faster, tighter turning. Reviewers have praised the gameplay of Super Mario Kart describing the battle mode as "addictive" and the single player gameplay as "incredible". IGN has stated that the gameplay mechanics defined the genre.

Super Mario Kart has two single player modes, Mario Kart GP and Time Trial. In Mario Kart GP one player races against seven computer controlled characters in a series of five races, these are called cups. Initially there are three cups available – the Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup and Star Cup – at two difficulty levels, 50cc and 100cc. By winning all three of the cups at the 100cc level, a fourth cup – the Special cup – is unlocked. Winning all four cups at 100cc unlocks a new difficulty level, 150cc. Each cup consists of five five lap races, each taking place on a distinct track. In order to continue through a cup a position of fourth or higher must be achieved in each race. If a player finishes in fifth to eighth position they are "ranked out" and the race must be replayed – at the cost of one of a limited number of lives – until a placing of fourth or above is achieved. Points are accrued by finishing in the top four positions in a race; first to fourth place receive nine, six, three and one points. The racer with the highest number of points after all five races have been completed wins the cup. In time trial mode players race against the clock, through the same tracks that are present in Mario Kart GP mode, attempting to set as fast a time as possible.

Super Mario Kart also has three multiplayer modes; Mario Kart GP, Match Race and Battle Mode. The multiplayer modes support two players and the second player uses the bottom half of the screen which is used as a map in the single player modes. Mario Kart GP is the same as in single player, the only difference being that there are now two human controlled drivers and six computer controlled drivers. Match Race involves the two players going head to head without any computer characters on a track of their choosing. In Battle Mode the two players again go head to head but this time in one of four dedicated Battle Mode courses. Each player starts with three balloons around their kart which can be destroyed by power ups fired by the other player. The first player to have all three of their balloons destroyed loses the battle.

Super Mario Kart features eight playable characters from the Mario series – Mario, Luigi, the Princess (later named Princess Peach), Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong Jr., Koopa Troopa and Toad. Each character's kart has different capabilities with differing levels of top speed, acceleration and handling. L During races, computer-controlled characters have special items, or superpowers, which they are able to use. These powers are specific to each character; for example, Yoshi drops eggs which cause players who hit them to lose coins and spin, while Donkey Kong Jr. throws bananas.

The characters are rendered as sprites portrayed from sixteen different angles. The sprites were described as "detailed" by Nintendo Magazine System when the game was first reviewed and were thought to contribute to the "spectacular" graphics of the game as a whole. More recently the representations are seen to have aged with Nintendojo calling them "not-so-pretty" and IGN commenting on the dated look of the game. Super Mario Kart was the first game to feature playable characters from the Mario series other than Mario in a non-platforming game and the selection and different attributes of the characters is regarded as one of the game's strengths, IGN describing a well-balanced "all-star cast". All of the characters present in Super Mario Kart have gone on to appear in all of the later games in the series except for Koopa Troopa who has only appeared intermittently after being replaced by Wario in Mario Kart 64.

The tracks in Super Mario Kart are based on locations in the Mario series, including Bowser's Castle and Donut Plains from Super Mario World. Each of the four cups contains five different tracks for a total of twenty unique circuits, additionally there are four unique Battle Mode courses. The course outlines are marked out by impassable barriers and feature a variety of bends ranging from sharp hairpins to wide curves which players can power slide around. Numerous obstacles themed from the Mario series appear, such as Thwomps in the Bowser's Castle levels, the jumping fish from Super Mario World in Koopa Beach and pipe barriers which are found in the Mario Circuit levels. Other features include off-road sections which slow down the karts such as the mud bogs in the Choco Island tracks. Each single player track is littered with coins and power up tiles, as well as turbo tiles which give the karts a boost of speed and jumps which launch the karts into the air.

The tracks have received positive commentary with GameSpy describing them as wonderfully designed and IGN calling them perfect. When naming its top five Mario Kart tracks of all time in 2008, 1UP.com named Battle Mode Course 4 at number three and Rainbow Road – along with its subsequent versions in the series – at number one. The track themes in Super Mario Kart influenced later games in the series; recurring themes that first appeared in Super Mario Kart include haunted tracks, Bowser's castle and Rainbow Road. Some of the tracks from Super Mario Kart have been duplicated in later games. All twenty of the original tracks are unlockable as an extra feature in the Game Boy Advance sequel Mario Kart: Super Circuit. Remakes of Mario Circuit 1, Donut Plains 1, Koopa Beach 2 and Choco Island 2 appear as part of the retro grand prix series in Mario Kart DS and remakes of Ghost Valley 2 and Mario Circuit 3 appear as part of the retro cup in Mario Kart Wii.

Super Mario Kart was produced by Shigeru Miyamoto and directed by Tadashi Sugiyama and Hideki Konno. In an interview Miyamoto has said that development team originally set out to produce a game capable of displaying two players on the same game screen simultaneously. In the same interview Konno stated that development started with a desire to create a two player racing game in contrast to the single player gameplay of SNES launch title F-Zero. Computer and Video Games suggest that this initial emphasis on creating a two player experience is the reason why even in the single player modes, a horizontal split-screen is utilised during gameplay. The intention to create the racing modes of the game had been present from the start of the project and Battle Mode was developed from the desire to create a one-on-one mode where victory was not determined simply by competing for rank. The game did not start out as a Mario series game and the first prototype featured a generic man in overalls in the kart; the team decided that characters three heads tall would best suit the design of the karts. The decision to incorporate Mario series characters into the game didn't come until two or three months after the start of development. The choice was made after the development team, when observing how one kart looked to another driving past it, decided to see what it would look like with Mario in the kart. Thinking that having Mario in the kart looked better than previous designs, the idea of a Mario themed racing game was born.

Notable in the development of Super Mario Kart was its use of Mode 7 graphics. First seen in F-Zero, Mode 7 is a form of texture mapping available on the SNES which allows a plane to be rotated and scaled freely, achieving a pseudo three-dimensional appearance. 1UP.com have credited the use of Mode 7 with giving the game graphics which at the time of release were considered to be "breathtaking". Retrospective reflection on the Mode 7 visuals has been mixed with IGN stating that the once revolutionary technology now looks "crude and flickery" whilst the Video Game Bible describes them as "beautiful" and adding to the game. Super Mario Kart was also the first game on the SNES to use a DSP-1 chip. DSP (Digital Signal Processor) chips were used in SNES games as they provided a better handling of floating-point calculations to assist with three-dimensional maths. The DSP-1 chip that was used in Super Mario Kart went on to be the most popular DSP chip to be used in SNES games.

Super Mario Kart proved to be a critical and commercial success; it received a Player's Choice release after selling one million copies and eventually went on to sell eight million copies to become the third best selling game ever for the SNES. Aggregate scoring sites Game Rankings and MobyGames both give an average of more than 90% whilst GameStats and TopTenReviews give average's of over 80%. Critics praised the game's Mode 7 graphics; in 1992 Nintendo Magazine System described them as superb and the graphics have since been described as among the best ever seen on the SNES.Another aspect of the game to have been praised is its gameplay, which Thunderbolt has described as the "deepest most addictive... to be found on the SNES console". Nintendo Magazine System showed a preference for the multiplayer modes of the game and stated that whilst the "single player mode becomes dull quickly" the "two-player mode won't lose appeal". Retrospective reviews of the game have been positive with perfect scores given by review sites including Thunderbolt and HonestGamers. The use of the style and characters from the Mario franchise was also praised as well as the individual characteristics of each racer. Mean Machines describes the game as having "struck gold" in a way that no other – not even its sequels – has matched and GameSpot named the game as one of the greatest games of all time for its innovation, gameplay and visual style.

Since being released Super Mario Kart has been listed among the best games ever made several times. IGN ranked it as the 15th best game ever in 2005, describing it as "the original karting masterpiece" and as the 23rd best game ever in 2007, discussing its originality at time of release. The Age placed it at number 19 on their list of the 50 best games in 2005 and in 2007 Edge Magazine ranked Super Mario Kart at number 14 on a list of their 100 best games, noting its continued influence on video game design. The game is also included in Yahoo Games' list of the hundred greatest games of all time which praises the appealing characters and power ups and 1UP.com's "Essential 50", a list of the fifty most important games ever made. The game placed 13th in Official Nintendo Magazine's 100 greatest Nintendo games of all time. Guinness World Records ranked it at number 1 on a list of the top 50 console games of all time ranked on their initial impact and lasting legacy.

Super Mario Kart has been credited with inventing the "kart racing" sub-genre of video gaming and soon after its release several other developers attempted to duplicate its success. In 1994, less than two years after the release of Super Mario Kart, Sega released Sonic Drift; a kart racing game featuring characters from the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Also in 1994 Ubisoft released Street Racer, a kart racing game for the SNES and Sega Mega Drive which included a four player mode not present in Super Mario Kart. Future games that followed in the mould of Super Mario Kart include South Park Rally, Konami Krazy Racers, Diddy Kong Racing and several racing games in the Crash Bandicoot series. Response to the karting games released since Super Mario Kart has been mixed, with GameSpot describing them as tending to be bad whilst 1UP.com notes that countless developers have tried to improve upon the Mario Kart formula without success. Super Mario Kart is also credited as being the first non-platforming game to feature multiple playable characters from the Mario franchise. As well as several sequels Nintendo has released numerous other sporting and non-sporting Mario spin-offs since Super Mario Kart; a trend in part accredited to the commercial and critical success of the game. The Mario characters have appeared in many sports games including those relating to basketball, baseball, golf, tennis and soccer. Non sporting franchises using the Mario characters have also been created, including the Super Smash Bros. series of fighting games and the Mario Party series of board game based, party games. Mario series characters have also made cameos in games from other series such as SSX on Tour and NBA Street V3, both published by EA Sports. The genre spanning nature of the Mario series that was sparked off by the success of Super Mario Kart has been described as key to the success and longevity of the franchise; keeping fans interested despite the infrequency of traditional Mario platforming games. Following this model the Mario series has gone on to become the best selling video game franchise of all time with 193 million units sold as of January 2007, almost 40 million units ahead of second ranked franchise (Pokémon, also by Nintendo).

Several sequels to Super Mario Kart have been brought out for successive generations of Nintendo consoles, each receiving commercial success and critical acclaim. The first of these, Mario Kart 64 was released in 1997 for the Nintendo 64 and was the first Mario Kart game to feature fully 3D graphics. Although reviewers including IGN and GameSpot felt that the single player gameplay was lacking compared to its predecessor the simultaneous four-person multiplexer modes – a first for the Nintendo 64 – were praised. The second sequel Mario Kart: Super Circuit was released for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. It was described by GameSpot as more of a remake of Super Mario Kart than a sequel to Mario Kart 64 and featured a return to the graphical style of the original. As well as featuring all new tracks players are able to unlock the original SNES tracks if certain achievements are completed. Mario Kart: Double Dash! was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002, unlike any other Mario Kart game before or since it features two riders in each kart allowing for a new form of cooperative multilayer where one player controls the kart's movement and the other fires weapons. Mario Kart DS, released for the Nintendo DS in 2005, was the first Mario Kart game to include on-line play via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. It went on to become the best selling hand-held racing game of all time, selling 7.83 million units. The most recent instalment in the series – Mario Kart Wii – was released for the Wii in 2008 and incorporates motion controls. Like Mario Kart DS it includes on-line play; it also allows racers to play as user created Miis (after unlocking the Mii character) as well as Mario series characters and comes packaged with the Wii wheel peripheral which can act as the game's primary control mechanism when coupled with a Wii remote. Mario Kart Wii went on to be the best selling game of 2008 in North America ahead of the critically acclaimed Grand Theft Auto IV. Two Mario Kart arcade games have also been released, Mario Kart Arcade GP in 2005 and Mario Kart Arcade GP 2 in 2007. Both were developed jointly by Nintendo and Namco and feature classic Namco characters including Pac-Man and Blinky. Super Mario Kart has not been re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console; when naming it as one of the most wanted games for the platform in November 2008, Eurogamer stated that problems emulating the Mode 7 graphics were responsible for its absence.

As the series has progressed many aspects included in Super Mario Kart have been developed and altered. The power up boxes which are flat against the track in Super Mario Kart due to the technical limitations of the SNES became floating boxes in later games. The roster of racers has expanded in recent games to include a greater selection of Nintendo characters including some which had not been created at the time of Super Mario Kart's release – such as Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy who appeared in Mario Kart Wii. Multiplayer has remained a key feature of the series and has expanded from the two-player modes available in Super Mario Kart; first to allow up to four simultaneous players in Mario Kart 64 and eventually up to twelve simultaneous on-line players in Mario Kart Wii. Many of the track themes have been retained throughout the series, including Rainbow Road – the final track of the Special Cup – which has appeared in every Mario Kart console game. Other features present in Super Mario Kart have disappeared from the series. These include the "super-powers" of the computer characters, the feather power up which allows players to jump high into the air and having a restricted number of lives. The only other Mario Kart game to feature the coin collecting of the original is Mario Kart: Super Circuit. The aspects of style and gameplay from Super Mario Kart that have been retained throughout the series have lead Nintendo to face criticism for a lack of originality but the franchise is still considered to be a beloved household name by many, known for its familiar core gameplay. Despite the technical innovations that have taken place since the start of the series many still consider Super Mario Kart to be the best game of the franchise.

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Mario Kart DS

North American box art

Mario Kart DS (マリオカートDS ,Mario Kāto DS?) is a racing game developed and published by Nintendo. It was released for the Nintendo DS handheld game console in North America, Australia, and Europe in November 2005, and in Japan in December 2005. The game is the fifth installment in the Mario Kart series of video games, and the first to be playable via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection online service. Like other games in the series, Mario Kart DS features characters from the Mario series, and pits them against each other as they race in karts on tracks based on locations in the Mario series.

The game was well received, receiving an aggregated score of 91% from Metacritic. Praise focused on the game's graphics and gameplay, while criticism targeted its repetitive single-player mode. Mario Kart DS received several awards, including Editors' Choice Awards from GameSpot and IGN, G-Phoria's Best Handheld Game award, and IGN's Best Racing/Driving Game and Game of the Year awards for 2005. In the United States, Mario Kart DS was the best-selling handheld game in its first month of release, and also held that position the following month. Overall, Mario Kart DS is the sixth best-selling game for the Nintendo DS as of January 2009.

Mario Kart DS is a racing game, in which the player races in a kart against other racers as one of 13 characters, each with 36 karts to choose from. While racing, the Nintendo DS's top screen offers a third-person perspective of the player's kart, while the bottom touchscreen shows the race's current standings, items carried by each racer, and a map of the course. The bottom screen can be toggled to show either an overview of the entire course, or a bird's-eye view of the player's kart and the immediate vicinity, including nearby racers, course hazards, item boxes, and incoming attacks. Each course features item boxes that the player can drive through to receive a randomly selected item, which the player can use to gain an advantage over other racers. Some items allow the player to attack other racers to slow them down, while other items can be used to speed up the player's own kart to pass other racers more easily.

The game features five game modes—Grand Prix, Time Trial, Vs, Battle, and Mission. The Grand Prix and Vs modes require that the player choose an engine class from among 50 cc, 100 cc, and 150 cc. The classes serve as difficulty levels—the higher the engine class, the faster all karts go. In addition, a 150 cc Mirror mode can be unlocked, in which karts use 150 cc engines and tracks are flipped horizontally. In Grand Prix mode, the player competes against seven computer-controlled racers in a series of predetermined courses. In the Time Trial mode, the player must finish a course as quickly as possible. The shortest time is then saved as a ghost, a carbon copy of the player's performance, which the player can race against later. In Vs mode, the player races on a track of their choosing against computer-controlled opponents. The mode can be played either individually or in teams, which separates racers into a blue team and a red team. Battle mode features two scenarios, Balloon Battle and Shine Runners, both which also allow the player to play either individually or in teams. In Balloon Battle, the player must pop the opposing players' balloons by attacking them, or they must steal balloons by colliding into other karts. In the second scenario, Shine Runners, the player must collect Shine Sprites. The player can attack other racers to take away a Shrine Sprite from them, and racers with the fewest Shine Sprites are eliminated from the game over time.

In Mission Mode, the player must complete missions, each with objectives that range from collecting coins to attacking enemies. In each mission, the player controls a prespecified character. There are six levels with eight missions in each. After completing each mission, the player's performance is given a grade of stars (three, two, or one) or letters (A, B, C, D, or E). After all eight missions in a level are complete, the player must complete a boss mission to advance to the next level. The game also features a multiplayer mode, in which eight players race each other using the DS Download Play feature or a multi-card wireless LAN connection. Mario Kart DS also supports online play via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, in which up to four players can play together. When playing online, participants can only race against each other; Battle mode is not available when playing via an online connection.

Nintendo first announced on May 11, 2004 that they planned to release a Mario Kart game for the Nintendo DS, releasing some gameplay video footage at the same time. The company offered the game for the public to play for the first time at the 2005 Game Developers Conference, where the game's wireless feature was also showcased. Mario Kart DS was produced by Hideki Konno, who also worked on 2005's Nintendogs. The game runs at a consistent 60 frames per second and uses fully 3D characters and environments.

Mario Kart DS is the first Mario Kart iteration to support online play. Konno remarked that although both Mario Kart DS and the Halo series of games feature online play, he noted that most of the people who use the feature in Halo games were "hardcore gamers". With Mario Kart DS, Konno wants "everyone to go online, and the technology and time is right for that to happen". Continuing with the tradition of introducing a new gameplay mechanic in each Mario Kart game, Mario Kart DS is the first in the series to support up to eight players at the same time with only one game cartridge. New to the series, the game also includes a single-player Battle Mode, which does not require that there be at least two human participants. As the first Mario Kart game for the Nintendo DS, the developers tested several features that took advantage of the device's bottom touchscreen. They considered letting players place items anywhere on the track instead of just behind their kart. However, the developers found it too confusing because the game already had too many distractions, making it difficult to control where to place items while racing.

In Mario Kart DS, a kart is able to draft behind another kart to gain a speed boost momentarily. A variation of the feature was originally in the 1992 video game Super Mario Kart, but no visual indication was offered when the feature was used. Mario Kart DS, however, places a stronger focus on the feature and provides a visual cue when a kart is drafting. In an interview, Konno notes that they included tracks from previous Mario Kart games into Mario Kart DS so that players who played the original Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System would feel more familiar with the DS iteration of the series.

Mario Kart DS was released by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS in North America on November 14, 2005, in Australia on November 17, 2005, in Europe on November 25, 2005, in Japan on December 8, 2005, and in Korea on April 5, 2007. Nintendo later revealed that Mario Kart DS would also be sold bundled with a new red-colored Nintendo DS starting on November 28, 2005, along with "a checkered-flag wrist strap, and racing-inspired decals to customize new red handheld". The game was considered to receive "universal acclaim" by Metacritic, where it received an aggregated score of 91%. Praise focused on the game's graphics and gameplay, while criticism targeted its repetitive single-player mode. Mario Kart DS received Editors' Choice awards from GameSpot and IGN. The game was nominated by GameSpot for several Best of 2005 awards, including Best Multiplayer Game, Best Driving Game, and Best DS Game, winning the last one. The game received G-Phoria's Best Handheld Game award. IGN gave the game the awards for Best Racing/Driving Game and Game of the Year for 2005.

Several reviews praised the game for living up to the standards set by its predecessors. Finding the game's online shortcomings annoying, GameSpy still believed that the single-player mode and local wireless gameplay more than made up for them. Nintendo World Report noticed that "the best features of past Mario Kart games are back" and work well with the new features in Mario Kart DS, calling the end result "the most impressive game to ever hit the Nintendo DS and also the best game in the Mario Kart series". X-Play shared this sentiment, and remarked that the game shattered all of its expectations, making it the "best kart racing game ever released—handheld or otherwise". GameZone also believed that Mario Kart DS "lives up to its legacy" with its inventive courses, "stellar" multiplayer, and "more replay value than any other racer in its class". Alejandro K. Brown of CBS News appreciated the game's unique use of Nintendo DS features, such as its microphone and wireless connectivity.

Finding it hard to imagine how Nintendo could make a Mario Kart game better than Mario Kart DS, IGN lauded Mario Kart DS's gameplay and depth in its design. GameSpot called the game a "significant step forward" for the Mario Kart series, partly because it is the first in the series to feature online play. Game Revolution remarked that the game "goes the distance" with its single-player and multiplayer modes. 1UP.com complimented the "surprisingly compelling package", describing it as a "portable racing game on par with anything ever to appear on a console". Video game magazine GamePro was pleased with the variety of racers, courses, modes, and multiplayer options offered, toting the game as a "must play" for any Nintendo fan and a requisite for any Nintendo DS owner to purchase. Computer and Video Games described Mario Kart DS as the "most complete" Mario Kart game, despite a few graphical shortcomings. Eurogamer enjoyed the game's multiplayer mode, calling it "genuinely practical to play with other people". British publication GamesTM criticized the game for being simply a "polishing of the Mario Kart concept and little else", and video game website Nintendophiles was disappointed with the "fairly repetitive" single-player mode and the "cheap computer players".

The game was the first for the Nintendo DS to take advantage of the console's Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection feature. By the end of its debut week in the United States, 112,000 people purchased the game, of which 52,000 of them had logged onto Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection to play against other people over the Internet. Mario Kart DS was the best-selling handheld game in its debut month of November 2005 in the United States. It reached first place again in December 2005 among handhelds, and sixth across all platforms. It dropped to third place in February 2007 among handhelds. Across all platforms, the game went down to 17th place in April 2008 and then back up to 14th in May 2008. It descended to 16th in November 2008. It rose to 10th place in December 2008 in the region, selling more than 540,000 copies that month. It was the 10th best-selling game of 2008, and the best-selling Nintendo DS game of that year. In Japan, the game sold 224,411 copies in its first week. In the week of February 18–24, 2008, it dropped to 27th place. The game went back up on the charts and became the 16th best-selling game of April 7–13, 2008, 14th place from April 14–20, 2008, and 15th place from May 12–18, 2008. Mario Kart DS sold 3,112,363 units as of July 2008, and 3,224,996 copies as of January 2009, making it the sixth best-selling game for the Nintendo DS since the console's release. The game was Japan's 16th best-selling game in 2008.

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Source : Wikipedia