|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Sumo Digital||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 23, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Everything is based on the central racing mechanic of the main game though, so it's a good thing that it's as fun as it is. Similar to most kart racers, there are capsules strewn throughout the level that can be driven through to obtain items. There are some standard items like homing missiles, but also some more unique ones like a rainbow that obscures an unlucky driver's vision and a remote controlled missile that detonates on your command.
The placement of all of these items is practically perfect as well. The amount of offensive weapons seems to ramp up during the last lap, which always ensures that the ending of each race is intense and close. Also, the type of item you get is dependent on your position in the race. Since it wouldn't make much sense to give homing missiles to players in first place, instead they're mostly given shields to protect them from the onslaught of offensive weapons coming from the rear.
To add an extra layer of skill to the game, Sumo Digital has included a boost ability that is obtained only after powersliding for a set amount of time. Skilled players will be able to gain an edge on the competition by taking perfect turns and emerging from the corner with an extra burst of speed. When used effectively, it can be the difference in a close race, or it can lead to a blowout victory. When ignored, it doesn't make that much of a difference; you can still be competitive just by taking tight corners and making some well-placed missile shots.
Rounding out the package is a fairly robust set of multiplayer options. There is a standard multi-cart local multiplayer mode and Wi-Fi multiplayer as well. Plus, there is even an option for single-cart download play that lets two people play with just one game cartridge downloaded to a second DS, which was common early in the DS's life span, but has fallen by the wayside in recent years.
We were pleasantly surprised by this game. SEGA has tried before to emulate Nintendo's success with its character-mélange games with mixed results, but this game is nothing but fun. If you're looking for an enjoyable, frantic arcade-combat-racer then look no further because this is one of the best you'll find on any handheld.
Ultimately, this may be the definitive version of this game. It may not sport the flashy visuals of its console counterparts, but it sports much of the same great gameplay plus it fits in your pocket and can be bought for nearly half the price of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.
CCC Freelance Writer