Tart Top is the worst


Select Character (jim)Just like how a Bomberman game may be mediocre but the multi-player is guaranteed to be good, the Battle Mode in Mario Kart is generally the best part for me. Double Dash!! wasn't quite as fulfilling as Mario Kart 64, but the Battle Mode remained great, even though the change of four to six courses didn't exactly mean a lot, what with only half of them being good. However, Super Mario Kart remains my favourite in terms of nostalgic value, and it's got this different feel from the others; instead of having up to four players, it's only got two placed in this huge arena, and it gives a better sense of tension simply because your opponent could be anywhere! That red shell could hit you, but it could also veer off course completely and hit that wall! It's a game of guessing and mystery, and the later games simplified the courses both in design and size, and removed the red shells of their self-destructing tendencies.


Select Stage (Balloon Battle)Mario Kart DS, in a nutshell, is awesome. It only took them thirteen years to finally realise that having more than four cups and four battle courses is the way to go, but they pulled it off really well, especially with half of the levels being from the earlier instalments. The choices they made for some, however, could've been better, as since the SNES ones are the starting races they tend to be the easy, boring ones, leaving the Bowser Castle and Vanilla Lake courses out in the cold; and why they chose Moo Moo Farm from Kart 64 instead of something a little more interesting is beyond me; DK's Jungle Parkway would've been awesome to see again. And Mushroom City from Double Dash!! would've been a more welcome sight than Yoshi Circuit.


The good thing about the game is that the Battle Mode is better than ever; you can actually play it by yourself. I can't believe it took them this long to realise that restricting single-player to only the grand prix and time trials is monotonous, so it's a huge relief that they allowed it to be single-player; and the Mission Mode is pretty interesting too. Balloon Battle (Tart Top)The Bob-Omb Blast mode from Double Dash!! is ditched (and for good reason, since it was really only one of those "hey let's try this for a change" modes), but the two modes that still exist, Balloon Battle and Shine Runners are pretty rad, though the former is naturally superior, what with the CPU being a dippy mothertruck in the latter. But the best parts of all is that eight people can play, there are six courses, and there's a better good-to-crap ratio on them than in the last game!

And by that, I mean there's one utterly craptacular course. Palm Shore is pretty meh, but Tart Top takes the cake.


The level is a large circle, walled off with creamy delights and decorated with eight spongy bumpers, and in the middle is a ramp, covered with speed boosters and a halo of item boxes floating above, with the gimmick being you have to use that ramp to get any items.

What this means is that you have to keep flying up and down the ramp to get more items, and if you've got something good then circle around until you find a target and attempt to attack. But thanks to the level's circular structure, green shells will never hit, so you just have to keep going up and down that ramp to find something good. Good luck blowing anyone up with that Bob-Omb!


My main nag with the level is that the ramp is the central focus of the level, as without it you'd just have Big Donut without the lava pit or the pillars to hide behind, which could actually have been slightly interesting. Instead, you have an unnecessarily huge filler section which features nothing at all and that item ramp in the middle. Heck, the ramp could've been replaced with a pit, and that would be interesting, what with the pinball-like obstacles around it to bounce people into their doom. The ramp could even be replaced with a giant Whacka, and that'd be a lot more interesting than a goddamned ramp.


It's a shame, because the other courses are just brilliant; Pipe Plaza is small and simple enough to keep things frantic in any mode, while Block Fort is huge and still maintains the feel of the hunt from the original, even though the amount of participants in it this time has doubled; Twilight House isn't quite as dynamic as Luigi's Mansion, but it's still got it's charm. The Nintendo DS course is much superior to the GameCube one from Double Dash!!, and then there's Palm Shore, which is more awkward and clunky what with the tide coming and going, but it's particularly fun in Shine Runners.

Tart Top, however, has no redeeming value whatsoever, especially when one of the huge levels from Super Mario Kart could have been included; they may be bland and gimmick-lacking compared to the new arenas, but I'd much rather fight in there than go up and down a goddamned ramp.



And to conclude, Tart Top is boring, and this screenshot of Tart Top is also boring, so therefore Tart Top is just catastrophically terrible with bad design that it should give Mario a reason to pull out his time machine from his third party educational title and prevent this disaster from ever coming to be. Seriously.