TrackMania has had quite a few iterations in its series, all on the PC. Now, however, comes TrackMania DS, set to release on March 17th of this year. There are a lot of fans of TrackMania out there, and to see it become a portable title is certainly something worth watching for.
The game shares a lot of similarities with previous TrackMania games, in modes, play style, and graphics. But of course, if you're playing a TrackMania game, you just want to get to the racing. And in TrackMania DS, there are three different modes for you to play in: Race, Platform, and Puzzle.
The first, Race, is exactly what it says on the box: you race. Now, this being TrackMania, you're racing the clock more than other racers to get the gold. If you want, you can turn these on, and you'll have real opponents to try to beat (but drive through; they're just ghosts). The next mode, Platform, is unique and could only appear in a game like TrackMania . Essentially, you're trying to get to the finish line without having to restart. It sounds easy, but based on some of the track plans, where you can fly off the road, fall through a hole, mis-judge a ramp and miss completely, or make any number of other mistakes, it can be a definite challenge to get the gold.
The last mode, Puzzle, is definitely unique to the series. Here, you're given a starting point, a finish line, and a number of checkpoints in between. Using the level editor in the game, you must make a path connecting the necessary checkpoints and the finish line, and then race it to get the best time. Trying to find shortcuts, even ones that give you fractions of seconds, mean winnning gold in this mode.
The level editor is a fairly diverse-looking creation, and is present in TrackMania DS. You can make your own tracks out of any number of parts, though they must be purchased first using 'coppers', the in-game currency earned from winning medals. These coppers also allow you to buy new skins for your vehicles and bonus tracks that you can race on to earn even more medals.
The transition of the off-the-wall racer to a portable form is definitely something to look forward to. It's basically the closest you can get to a perfect portable racing title, and with the addition of online capabilities, you won't have to play alone either. With its release in mid-March, we'll see how well the game really transitions to the hand-held market.