Mario Kart DS

Moby ID: 20164
Nintendo DS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Mario Kart DS is the continuation of the long running racing game series that began on the Super Nintendo. It features 16 new tracks as well as 16 tracks from the previous 4 games, with each set split up into the Nitro and Retro Grand Prix respectively. Eight racers are initially available, each with two go-karts to choose from. A number of characters and additional karts are also available to unlock. New items have been added to the arsenal, including a Blooper squid that squirts ink onto the screens of other players and a Bullet Bill power up that transforms the player into a giant, fast-travelling bullet on autopilot.

One of the features of this version is its support for online Internet play through Nintendo's WiFi service. MKDS owners can challenge up to 3 other people in Grand Prix mode on 20 of the 32 tracks. Players can also match up with friends by trading "Friend Codes" that are generated based on the DS that is used and the copy of the game owned. Custom emblems to use on karts are supported through the game's paint program.

Battle mode is also present with 8-player support and 6 tracks. This time, there are two modes to choose from: "Balloon Battle" and "Shine Runners." Balloon Battle is similar to the previous versions of this mode, with the exception that every player starts with only one balloon, and 5 in reserve. Players can have 2 additional balloons by either holding the Select button while standing still to inflate them, or by blowing into the DS's microphone. "Shine Runners" tasks players to collect "Shines," with the winner being the one that has the most.

New to the series is "Mission Mode," which consists of a series of single player objective-based missions. Each mission takes place on a section of a race track and tasks the player to accomplish goals not normally seen in the other game modes. Such tasks include picking up coins on the track, using items to take out enemies, and racing through numbered gates. Missions are split up into 6 sets of 8, with a 9th mission for each where players must battle against a boss character.

Local wireless multiplayer is supported for up to 8 people in Grand Prix, VS, and Battle Modes. Time trial "ghost" data can be shared as well, and DS owners who don't have the game can use the Download & Play option to join in Grand Prix mode. However, non Mario Kart owners are limited to selecting Shy Guy as their character.


  • マリオカートDS - Japanese spelling
  • 马里奥卡丁车DS - Chinese spelling (simplified)
  • 마리오 카트 DS - Korean spelling

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Credits (Nintendo DS version)

101 People (97 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

General Producer
Mission-Run Mode Director
Wi-Fi Mode Director
Programming Director
System Programming
2D Object Programming
UI Programming
Item Programming
Object Programming
Wi-Fi Programming
Design Director
Course Director
Course Design
Object Design
[ full credits ]



Average score: 92% (based on 93 ratings)


Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 93 ratings with 5 reviews)

Accessible, kid-oriented fun with outstanding gameplay

The Good
What's not to like about Mario Kart? It's built for fun from the ground up. This incarnation is still the staple of DS gaming three years after its release, and is the highest-ranking DS game on (at 91.8%). Online play can get frustrating for casual players due to the overwhelming dominance of skilled snakers, but if you can't handle them then you might consider mastering the powerslide feature yourself, perhaps in single player mode.

Very well-designed tracks, loads of options (e.g. engine size) and unlockables (new characters and cars), excellent online capabilities, and even some advanced maneuvers for elite players make this as rich and compelling gaming experience as could be hoped for in this present era of video gaming.

The Bad
Eventually you may tire of this game and never want to play it again, due to the cutesy kid-oriented design ethos that is inevitable in every Mario product. I've reached saturation point twice in two years, but I do keep coming back, a little more skilled in online play than the last time.

The prevalence of 'snakers' (what some consider cheaters who employ the game's boost system to drive about 20% faster than usual) in online play makes this a bit frustrating for the casual gamer who takes winning very seriously.

And for the snaker, it can be frustrating when everyone you play quits on you, and you are deprived of your win points -- although a clever player will keep their opponents connected by not getting too far ahead, and even letting them win a race or two.

The Bottom Line
The number one reason to buy a Nintendo DS. I probably played it for about a thousand hours before finally getting tired of it, and I am very finicky about what games I spend my time on. And, I am now back to playing it about an hour a day. Great game, endless replay value, overall an outstanding title and well worth the $50.

However, if you are not all that skilled at video games that reward reflexes, dexterity, and lightning-fast judgement, then you may want to start with Nintendogs or Tetris as your first DS purchase.

Nintendo DS · by Chris Wright (85) · 2011

Good old fashioned racing fun but finally with online gameplay. An essential buy for any DS owner.

The Good
A lot! The gameplay is fast and smooth and, to put it simply, just as it should be. Most of the old power-ups return, such as banana peels and shells, but there are also two new ones. There's Bullet Bill, which temporarily transforms you into a bullet that crashes through everything, and Squitter, a squid that covers the top screen with ink obscuring your sight. The tracks are well designed and are full of stuff fans will recognize immediately, including turbo-tiles, pipes on the track and more. There are 32 tracks in total. There is the Nitro GP. This consists of 16 tracks that are all new in this version including Tick-Tock Clock, Delfino Square and the totally crazy Waluigi Pinball. Also available is the Retro GP. Long-time fans will love this since it consists of 16 tracks from previous games. There are classics such as Mario Circuit 1 from Super Mario Kart and Moo Moo Farm from Mario Kart 64. Some of the older tracks are by far not as spectacular as the new tracks but they are still great to play. It's still pretty amazing to see how well the SNES and GBA tracks have been transformed from old mode 7 graphics into 3D. Besides Grand Prix there is time trial to break records and the VS mode which is a single race on a track you choose yourself. The Battle Mode is back, too. There is balloon battle, the winner is the one that is the last one standing. You die if you lost all of your 5 balloons. A nice touch is that you can blow them up by blowing in the microphone, instead of using the select button. There is also Shine Runners. The winner is the one with the most shines. Now and then a counter starts. When it reaches zero, the one with the least shines dies. The Battle arena's include a giant Nintendo DS, an enormous cake, a big plaza with the famous Mario pipes and more. These are just as great as the tracks and are very varied. Finally there is the Mission mode. These are set on the tracks and arena's and have missions such as driving through gates in order or hitting five fish before time runs out. After you defeat a world you will even have to battle a boss from Super Mario 64 DS, which is a very cool touch to an already great addition to the series. The graphics are some of the best on the DS so far. Especially the new tracks and NGC tracks look great and are detailed. There is a lot to see from a swinging clock pendulum that blocks the road and a Mario sculpture to a market and cars driving in the opposite direction. As mentioned before, some of the older tracks look a bit too inferior to the new tracks, but it's still very nice to look at. The main characters are all present again and, just as the tracks there are some that need to be unlocked. There are not as much characters as in Double Dash on the GameCube but it's still a big gang of your favorite Mario characters. There are really a lot of karts here, such as Donkey Kong's friend Rambi the Rhino as a car, Mario's 50's style race car and Peach's Bigfoot. Eventually you'll even be able to use cars that don't belong to your selected character. But there is one addition that dramatically improves the series and it's replay value. This is the Wi-Fi play enabling you to play with people from around the world. You can create your own icon (which appears on your kart) with the build-in paint program and a nickname. These are visible in both single and multiplayer sessions. With the Wi-Fi play the series finally reaches it's full potential. Off course there is also the LAN connection with both single card play (with all players but the host playing as Shy Guy) and multi-cart play. (so you can play with all characters.) The sound is excellent, too and you'll find yourself humming along with the tunes soon. All sound effects and tunes sound crisp and clear and, if you put on the stereo sound and put the volume in the highest position, you will in pure fun-racing heaven.

The Bad
Some of the older tracks look a bit dated mostly because there is not so much to see. The creators could have put some more scenery in them. The biggest complaint about this game, however, is that only 20 of 32 tracks are playable online. I wonder why.

The Bottom Line
This is easily one of the best DS games so far and some people say it's the best Mario Kart ever making it one of the best racing games ever. This could very well be true. It looks good, plays good, sounds good, has some innovations and, most importantly, it's multiplayer supports online play, making the replayability virtually infinite. What more could you want. A gem that no Nintendo DS owner should miss. Why are you still reading this? Go buy it, NOW!

Nintendo DS · by Rensch (203) · 2005

This is pure fun for everyone

The Good
Despite it's incredibly popularity, the only Mario Kart game I've played before was the original Super Mario Kart for the SNES. The game were good but didn't age very well due to pseudo-3D graphics and bad control. Since then it seems Nintendo likes to release one Mario Kart for each of their consoles, each using the same formula. Mario Kart DS is that, the DS version of Mario Kart. And man, I was surprised how good such a simple game is.

There is a lot of different gameplay modes, in some you have to do "missions" or you can play with a friend trough the Wi-Fi connexion (something I wasn't able to test yet unfortunately). The more interesting mode (when playing alone) is of course the Grand Prix mode. You have to race through 4 "Nitro" Grand Prix and 4 "Retro" Grand Prix. Each Nitro race have 4 brand new circuits ("Nitro" is another name for the DS), and each retro race is made of already known circuits, one from the SNES, one from the N64, one from the GBA and one from Gamecube.

You pick one of the characters from the Mario series, including Mario, Luigi, Peach, Wario, Toad, Yoshi (my little favourite), Bowser, Donkey Kong and some other unlockable (why is Donkey Kong here ? Is the original Donkey Kong considered as a part of the Mario series ?), and you race against 7 other CPU controlled characters. There is 3 difficulty levels, 50cc, 100cc and 150cc, each one being harder than the previous, but allowing you to drive faster and is overall more fun.

You basically try to drive as crazy as you can and you hit boxes to collect items that allows you to attack other racers in many ways, while avoiding the attacks of other racers. Different characters and different karts allows you to drive differently, some characters are heavier, slow to accelerate, but can reach higher speeds than most (this is the case of Bowser, Donkey Kong and Wario). The light, high accelerations characters are great but easily get ejected out of the road by stronger characters (Yoshi and Toad). Some characters can be more suited for some circuits than others (typically in races with long straight lines it'd better to take Wario, but in races with lot of vicious turns Toad should be better).

After completing a circuit, you are rewarded by some number of points variable in function of where you are ranked (ideally you'd want to be 1st and get all 10 points). After all 4 circuits the sum of all your points should rank you in the first 3 to get a cup, bronze, silver or gold. You must get all gold cups in order to unlock the following Grand Prix (it's not required to be always first on each race, all that matters is the sum of your points).

The graphics are really good, most 3D games on the DS looks really bad and polygonal, but here is looks better than average, all characters are cute and there is a great use of both screen, one for the 3D view and the other for a 2D map. There is even cutscenes that shows 3D on both screens at once, which is something extremely rare.

The music is pretty good too, and the voices for the characters are absolutely awesome and very cute (the characters have a couple of joy and despair scream each, which sounds very cute). The sound effects are in full surround stereo, so when hearing a kart's motor or a character screaming you hear the sound exactly where it's source is positioned if you have headphones, which is awesome. There is remixed music from the SNES version for the SNES courses, etc... (I just tough I'd mention that) which is cool, and of course brand new music for the brand new courses.

The Bad
Something that bothers me is that when being ranked it doesn't matter how well you did, only how much you are ranked. If you are 2nd, you could be way ahead of the 1st, or be ex-echo with him, it doesn't matter, you get the same number of points. Often the ranking is tight, almost unfair.

The CPU seems to almost cheat sometimes, when the race begins I need some time to accelerate (even if I accelerate while there is still the countdown), but CPU controlled characters goes at an incredible speed instantly. How well the CPU characters takes some turns is outstanding, but sometimes they do it terribly too (fortunately for you). Probably Nintendo coded an imperfect behavior on purpose, which is a good thing, else the game wouldn't be beatable !

Item attacks are cool, but often unfair and exaggerated. The worst is a missile that systematically hit the 1st racer. This is very beneficial for the 2nd or the 3rd, but it's really frustrating if you are the 1st as you can easily be 6th in the matter of seconds if you get unlucky. Overall I'd say the game isn't too easy, but the results will depend more on luck than skill, which is not a good thing.

The Bottom Line
Mario Kart DS is an extremely good and fun game, but it's drawback is that it doesn't last very long until you've seen all there is to see. Once you complete all races of all difficulties, and unlocked all there is to unlock, the only thing you can do it to try to get better scores or to try the secondary playing modes, which are much less fun.

I guess I should find some friends with the game to race with, but then I'd have to figure how the Wi-Fi connexion works. So I'd say it's a game worth getting, it's very good and very fun, but it's not worth paying too much because it doesn't last for a very long time until you'll see everything.

Nintendo DS · by Bregalad (937) · 2008

[ View all 5 player reviews ]


1001 Video Games

Mario Kart DS appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Multiplayer hack

In late 2005, hackers, with the help of the homebrew 'Passme" device for the DS, were able to successfully implement a hack that would allow them to play the additional 12 tracks in online Wi-Fi mode. This does not only apply to a single device. As long as one person in the game has the hack, all of the players can race on these maps. As of this writing (Dec 2005), Nintendo has made no official announcement on the issue but it seems likely they'll fix this issue on future Mario Kart DS carts and possibly begin banning hackers from Mario Kart similar to what Bungie did with Halo 2.


Mario Kart DS marks the first appearance of R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) as a playable character. R.O.B. originally appeared as an accessory to the Robot Series of games for the NES, and has made subsequent non-playable cameo appearances in other games.


According to publisher Nintendo, Mario Kart DS sold 23.59 million copies worldwide (as of September 30, 2015).


  • 4Players
    • 2005 – Best Nintendo DS Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Best Racing Game of the Year
  • GamePro (Germany)
    • February 23, 2006 - Best Handheld Game in 2005 (Readers' Vote)
  • GameSpy
    • 2005 – #4 Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Nintendo DS Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Nintendo DS Game of the Year (Readers' Vote)
    • 2005 – Multiplayer Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Offline Multiplayer Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Nintendo DS Racing Game of the Year
    • 2005 – Nintendo DS Multiplayer Game of the Year

Information also contributed by Guy Chapman


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by LiveFire.

Wii U added by Michael Cassidy.

Additional contributors: Unicorn Lynx, Sciere, MegaMegaMan, gamewarrior, Deleted, CalaisianMindthief, Patrick Bregger, Victor Vance, FatherJack.

Game added November 25, 2005. Last modified March 27, 2024.