TrackMania DS DS

TrackMania DS DS
Long before LittleBigPlanet and Spore made user-generated content part of the mainstream gamer lexicon, the cult PC racing series TrackMania had built its reputation on letting players design, and share, their own, oft-ridiculous racetracks. (Yes, Nintendo's classic ExciteBike allowed minor control over the courses but as anyone who's downloaded it for their Wii will attest, that retro-title is so old school as to be practically prehistoric.) Now DS users can hit the road with a streamlined version of the hardcore 3D racer. This TrackMania offers fewer environments - desert, rally and stadium, with about a hundred courses all told - and the graphics are not exactly computer quality, but they're freaking pretty sweet for the low power portable, offering surprisingly long draw distances and often approaching 60 FPS - in less geeky lingo: you can see real far and drive real fast. Aside from the using the second screen and stylus for track construction - you can save 60 courses on the cartridge but for some strange reason can only share them via local wi-fi, not online - the game is otherwise straightforward with its controls. One button pushes gas, the other breaks and the D-pad steers. But where this series really, er, excels is in letting you, with the push of another button, start back at the last checkpoint or restart the race. This helps you shave milliseconds off your runs (which is really what this game series is all about) and is a must-have on the super-difficult elevated courses. TrackMania isn't going take the checkered flag against Mario Kart, mind you, but for racing game fans, this DIY title should still win their hearts. (Firebrand/Atlus)