TrackMania DS for Nintendo DS is classified as a racing game, but isn’t exactly like other racing games you have probably played. Unfortunately, there is no beating and banging in TrackMania DS because you can’t touch any of the other cars on the track. Think of all the races as time trial races with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place cars as ghosts on the track. You don’t even have to have them appear if you like it better without them.
At first not being able to race against other physical cars on the track was a little disappointing and I wondered what the point was of TrackMania DS. But, after playing the game for a few hours I realized that it isn’t as much about racing other racers as much as it is about honing your driving skills to make it around the track as fast as possible.
And you will be going fast around the tracks, since the game keeps a steady 60 frame per second pace and is probably one of the best looking racing games on Nintendo DS. Forget about other racing games you have played on Nintendo’s dual screen system because TrackMania looks and plays a lot better than them. The graphics look really good for a Nintendo DS racing game and move along smoothly. Granted, they are still a little blocky and don’t have as much detail as a PSP racing game, but I think they are the best you are going to get on the Nintendo DS.
You will get to enjoy the graphics in TrackMania DS in multiple play modes. You have the standard Solo mode that lets you race in three different areas (Stadium, Desert, and Rally) with three different types of cars (Indy, Offroad, and Rally) as you try to beat the best time to win a gold medal and cash. Next up is Platform mode that makes you race through different areas jumping from platform to platform trying to reach the finish line, sort of like a Super Mario Bros. game but with cars. Next up is the Puzzle mode that has you using the games track editor to connect pieces to allow you to get from the starting line to the finish. You have only limited pieces and have to place them correctly to give you a chance of finishing the puzzle. As you go through these TrackMania DS events you will gain medals and cash to allow you to buy more tracks, car skins, and building blocks for the track editor.
The Editor mode allows you to create your own tracks and save them to the games memory to play later or with friends. Creating race tracks in TrackMania DS will take some patience, but you can design very elaborate tracks to race on if you take the time to lay everything out. With over 300 building blocks, this mode should keep you busy long after you have completed all the Solo mode tracks. The editor does seem a little overwhelming at first, but after using it for an hour or so it should start to get easier to develop new tracks with loops, changing elevation, multiple checkpoints, jumps, and more. I was pretty impressed with the level editor in this game and supposedly the developers used it to create most of the Solo mode 100+ tracks. This reminded me of LittleBigPlanet when I heard this and that is not a bad thing at all.
TrackMania DS also features a Mulitplayer mode that allows you to play with up to three friends if they have a Nintendo DS, even if they don’t have the game. You can also play with up to eight people in Hotseat mode that has you passing around a single Nintendo DS system for everyone to play. One of the multiplayer modes has you race against your friends trying to set the fastest lap time over a certain amount of time. Another one has you trying to get from the start to the finish as fast as you can to win points, and the last one is similar, but has you adding up the points you win on each track to try to win the championship.
As you compete against the computer and your friends and family you will hear the sounds of your engine revving, metal banging against the walls, and tires squealing while digitized music plays in the background. The music gets repetitive after a little while and it is decent, but nothing spectacular. It is your basic limited all instrumental Nintendo DS soundtrack like a lot of other DS games feature. The sound effects sound decent and are what to expect in a racing game.
TrackMania DS’s controls are well done and feel good as you are flying around the tracks. The Stadium cars (Indy) are the best handling of the three, since the other two are very touchy and either sway back and forth or turn very sharply. Each car has a different feel to it, but all of them are pretty easy to control after a little practice.
All of the different racing modes in Solo and Multiplayer in TrackMania DS are fun and challenging. The different options, plus the level editor adds variety that will allow you to enjoy the game longer than a lot of other games. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t actually physically racing against the other opponents on the track, but after playing TrackMania DS for a little while I realized that the game isn’t focusing on that and I guess that makes it okay. If you have a computer capable of playing the PC version of TrackMania for free, then you can to get a feel for what to expect in the Nintendo DS game. All in all, I enjoyed the game and if you are looking for a good racing game other than Mario Kart DS then you should be happy with TrackMania DS.
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