NINTENDO DS REVIEW: SUPER MARIO DS

So Vaughn calls me up and says "I've got a DS and a few games for you. Get over here and get working" as if I don't do enough for that smart ass. But I've wanted to get my hands on one of these babies since I heard about it and thanks to my lack of funds right now, a free DS sounded pretty good. I later discovered that it wasn't even his DS, which meant it wasn't mine to keep. So now he's a CHEAP, smart ass.

The first game I fired up in this brand spanking new DS was Super Mario DS. Super Mario 64 and I go waaaaaay back and I was hot to get the adventure rolling again. 150 stars (30 more than the original) and 4 playable characters is a dream come true, especially when you consider that this game is a directors cut of one of the best 3D plaftormers of all time.

Color me surprised when Yoshi was the first playable character. Wasn't expecting that. I also wasn't expecting to fumble around with the controls as much as I did for the entire game, but did I EVER. No analog control on the DS is like not putting a steering wheel in a new vehicle. Nintendo just can't seem to do things right lately, and this is a huge mistake in my opinion. Why port a game that showed off Nintendos introduction into analog 3D gaming back in 1996, to a system that can't exactly handle it? You will have to rely on the D-Pad, which does work, but doesn't ever feel 100% natural, because you'll have to hold down a button to run and you won't get those itty bitty nuance moves you could so easily execute with the N64 controllers analog stick (and handy Z button I might add). You can use Nintendo's patented thumb strap which you wrap around the system, place your thumb on the touch screen and then locate the center neutral position. Moving your thumb with this strap on is supposed to emulate true analog control and it does work, but it feels like kack since you don't have a stick in your hand to move. If you will remember correctly some of those stars were damn hard to get on the N64. Now imagine trying to get them with out analog input on a screen much tinier than your TV. Seriously. Imagine it. Do you think it's any easier now? DO YOU???!!!! The only thing that will stop you from throwing this system against the wall is the knowledge that you can't afford to buy Vaughn a new one. At least that's what stopped me. I'm not sure how you'll manage to control yourself. I'm not saying some of you won't get the hang of it. Impossible feats are certainly possible. There are people out there who can write the bible on a piece of rice. These are the folks who will play Super Mario DS with a smile on their face and post on the message boards that you "suck" if you complain about it. Screw them. I have a life to get back to, as lonely, pathetic and shallow as it is.

The overall selling point of Super Mario DS is the four playable characters and in that sense, the game succeeds. You will have to locate Mario, Luigi and Wario and defeat a boss before they are playable (and I won't be spoling that here - look on our code pages for info). No doubt gamers will have their favorites and I'm guessing it might not be the tried and true Mario anymore. Yoshi's ability to eat enemies and poop out an egg for tossing, changes the gameplay so much that it feels like an entirely different game. Luigi's higher jumping ability come in handy in certain places as well too. Throughout the game you'll have to call on the abilities of each character to get past certain objectives.

Remember those pesky rabbits you had to catch in the first game? They're baaaack. And a lot more of them this time around. Catching rabbits unlocks minigames and other goodies and once again, you'll pull your hair out trying to find them and trying to catch them (hint: they only appear in certain places for certain characters) . Unfortunately no one but little old me wants to call this exactly what it is: Useless busy work! It's not fun catching these rabbits nor is the payoff all that big. It's just another way Nintendo can add more play value to the game so it seems like you're getting more. You aren't.

Okay so far, you can tell I'm not a fanboy overhyping this game, right? In terms of pretty shiny graphics, SMDS looks very nice, but it's not head and shoulders above the N64 version. Thankfully the N64 blurriness is gone and everything has been crisped up, but it isn't a leap of graphic brilliance that Super Mario All-Stars was over the original NES versions. The music is still classic Mario and surprise, there are more voices, but they don't say anything over the usual catchphrases you've heard in Mario Power Tennis, Mario Kart etc.

The Wi-Fi aspect of the multiplayer is cool, but I couldn't locate 4 players to play with, so I had to settle for Kyle who lives down the hall from me. I don't know Kyle very well at all, but I noticed he had a DS on the elevator so I asked him to join me in checking out the multiplayer. He was a little wary at first but he decided it was probably okay. Multiplayer doesn't require two carts which is awesome and we discovered absolutely no problems playing it together (we were in separate rooms of the same apartment). If you have a few DS owning friends, you'll dig this, but it would have been cool if Nintendo had programmed some meatier multiplayer games that required everyone to own a copy.

You will certainly get your moneys worth out of SMDS. It features the longest play value out of any of the launch games. Just keep in mind that your enjoyment of this cart will be in direct proportion to how easily you adapt to the less than stellar control scheme. With analog control built into the DS, this game would have been off the charts, but as it is I think a lot of people who played the original will be shocked to discover just how different it feels. I'd say rent first if you can, but that's almost an impossibility at this early stage of the game. Bottom line: Super Mario DS is a great place to visit, but only those with the patience of Job will get 150 stars and see the game to the very end.

Preview By Vaughn

If you've ever dreamed of playing Super Mario 64 with 4 friends or at the very least hoped you could play as Wario, Luigi or Yoshi in the N64 original, it looks like your bizarre wish is coming true.

Nintendo recently announced Super Mario 64X4 for their new Nintendo DS system which will allow 4 players to hunt for stars in locales from the classic N64 game. As well, players will also be able to tackle an updated single player version of the game and switch to the other playable characters on the fly. Think of it as a gimmick within a gimmick and it might be easier to see why this game was created.

Not much is known in regards to just how much the original game has been altered, but it has been reported that those who did get hands on time with Super Mario 64X4 suggested that each of the characters performed identically to the others, making switching characters more of a cosmetic difference than anything entirely useful. Of course, this will probably change by the time the game is released.

You'll need 4 Nintendo DS systems and yup, 4 copies of the game to take advantage of the wireless Bluetooth technology that will allow you to play multiplayer, but chances are if this game is a launch title, you and your posse will already own it. (Correction: You only need one copy of the game.)

The Dual Screen functionality hasn't been revealed entirely. We know that you can touch the bottom screen (which functions as the games map) to pop the camera to spy on another players position or take a close-up view of the castle (seemingly to locate the location of the stars).

That's all we can tell you right now. Currently all DS games are slated for a March 2005 release, which is odd considering the system is scheduled to ship in November. Either the system will be delayed or you'll see some of those March titles on store shelves this Fall.

Extended Description:

Each of the four main characters has multiple jumping moves that cover great horizontal and vertical distances. Each has unique moves: Yoshi can eat enemies and turn them into eggs that he can throw; Mario can punch, kick and wall-jump to great heights; super-strong Wario can break certain blocks; and Luigi can jump incredibly high. Power Flowers give each character even cooler powers, like invisibility, fire breath or the power to float through the air.

Story:

Answering an invitation, Mario, Luigi and Wario set out for a royal party with Princess Peach. When they arrive at the castle, though, they find it strangely empty. Meanwhile, Yoshi awakes from a rooftop nap to find the castle eerily silent, with Mario, Luigi and Wario nowhere to be seen. Yoshi soon discovers that Bowser has pilfered the castle's Power Stars and imprisoned the Toads in the castle's immense collection of paintings. It's up to the dynamic dino to figure out what happened to Mario, Luigi and Wario and save the day.

Features:

  • Play as Mario, Yoshi, Luigi and even Wario. You'll need to use each one's unique abilities to find 150 Power Stars hidden in the castle and grounds.
  • Play through Adventure mode and try your stylus-wielding hand at tons of new touch-sensitive min-games.
  • Battle up to three friends in Wireless Versus mode, which you can play with only one Super Mario 64 DS game card
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System: DS
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Released: Nov 2004
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
2.5
MUSIC/FX
3.5
VALUE
3.5