|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Firebrand Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 17, 2009||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|
Including a puzzle mode may seem like a strange fit for a racing game, but it'll have you looking at the tracks and their design in a completely different way. Puzzle mode gives you a start and finishing point and a set number of specific building blocks to use in creating your track. The objective is to create a course that gets you to the finish line and does so as quickly as possible. Once you've finished construction of the puzzle track, you'll switch over to your racer to give it a test run. This mode requires some patience, and may not be suited for all players, but it provides a fresh take on the traditional racing gameplay.
The built-in editing program used in puzzle mode can also be used to create your own custom tracks to share with friends via local wireless. This is the only area of the game that uses the stylus and touch screen, which is probably for the best. Making tracks isn't particularly tough; there's a reasonable learning curve that can seem intimidating at first, but it's not that difficult to concoct some fun courses to race on. The lack of online multiplayer, leaderboard, and track sharing puts a damper on some of the flexibility and fun of Trackmania. While racing against pals in its most basic form can be done in single-card download play, you'll need a second copy of the game to access all of the game's play options, including sharing tracks - something that can only be done locally.
By offering a tight, fast-paced, no-nonsense racing experience that's not overly upbeat and cutesy but doesn't take itself quite as seriously as games that have you putting your hot rod's pink slip on the line, Trackmania DS is a good choice for etting your bite-sized, rubber burning fix. With gameplay designed for maximum enjoyment in short bursts, it's well-suited to the handheld format. As is expected, some of the depth and extras found in the PC titles are lost on the cutting room floor to make the transition work, but the tradeoff is mostly worth it.
CCC Staff Contributor