I’ll admit it, after some resistance I’m glad I got back into the Itadaki Street series for Itadaki Street DS. The evolutionary addition that hooks players into Itadaki Street DS more than any other Itadaki Street game is dressing up your custom character with slime hats and Mario’s overalls. After each round players earn coins to spend on new outfits at the costume shop. Buying the Donkey Kong suit costs 40 coins and a P-Switch to hold costs 23 coins. The store is also always switching its selection so you will want to snatch up items like Waluigi’s hat right away. While you’re earning new items for your character you can unlock additional characters to use in free mode and new game boards by playing through scenario mode. Oh wait, you haven’t heard about Itadaki Street before? Let me explain how Itadaki Street DS plays.
Itadaki Street DS may look like Mario Party with its smorgasbord of mascot characters, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, Itadaki Street DS is more like a complicated version of Monopoly. Players roll virtual dice and move their custom character around a board to collect four playing card suits. After you grab all four suits, you can return to the bank to receive a cash reward and gain a level. On your collection quest you will walk over properties that you can buy with gold, just like Monopoly. If another player steps over your land they have to pay you a nominal fee in gold. Once you grab a piece of land it is important to collect adjacent properties. Each additional property allows you to upgrade your land with huts and towers. Cultivated land empties more gold from other players’ pockets when they land on your squares and bring you closer to earning enough money to be the winner.
While buying land is important, it’s not the only way to amass enough gold to win a match. Each time you walk on the bank square you have the opportunity to buy shares of stock. If you buy shares of the Pit area on the Mario Kart track you net gold whenever a player stops on any of the four squares in the Pit region, even if you don’t own the land. Your stock also goes up in value if the squares of land are upgraded with better buildings. You can make a fast buck by purchasing stock in areas you own and then investing your money by developing the land with towers. Another strategy is to purchase stock in areas that your opponents own. Let’s say Donkey Kong bought all four spaces on the pit and upgraded them all them to the maximum. You can profit off Donkey Kong’s monopoly buy investing money in the pit and even earn more gold than he does when an opponent stops on his squares by owning enough pit shares. Don’t want Donkey Kong to own all four squares? You can steal his land right from him, if you have enough cash to pay a premium price and stop on the square you want to steal. There are lots of different ways to win in Itadaki Street DS, but you have to be aggressive in the beginning. If you’re trailing way behind with only a few spaces of land on no stocks it becomes near impossible to catch up to first place. Each round you will be wasting money because your dice rolls will lead to squares owned by the other players, which will give them enough money to swipe the few properties you own. This is a problem that still hasn’t been addressed since the incipient of the Itadaki Street series and it can make the game frustrating for beginners.
There are a few twists in Itadaki Street DS to keep players on their toes. If you land on the casino you might see an automated Dragon Quest battle sequence where each player fight a dragon and there are 100 chance-like cards that can teleport players or grant the ability to immediately purchase stock. Make no mistake though; there aren’t any mini games in Itadaki Street DS. The screen shot with 8-bit Mario standing next to three warp pipes merely lets players pick a pipe to claim a prize. Even the slot machine, which is the closest thing to a mini game, only allows players to spin the reels once.
Itadaki Street DS is strictly a board game and it is language intensive. I imagine you could push through Itadaki Street DS if you ignore the epigrammatic chat sequences between dice rolls, guess what the goals are in scenario mode and are patient enough to wade through the menus. However, it’s going to be an uphill battle playing through Itadaki Street DS if you can’t read any Japanese. The one thing I haven’t touched on in Itadaki Street DS is online play. Nintendo WiFi play is in there, but you have to swap friend codes before you can play with anyone else. Fortunately, I don’t need to jump into online play yet. There are merciless opponents like computer controlled Princess Peach (a S rank character!) to keep me busy for now.