Mario Kart DS
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
Credits (Nintendo DS version)
101 People (97 developers, 4 thanks) · View all
|Mission-Run Mode Director|
|Wi-Fi Mode Director|
|2D Object Programming|
|[ full credits ]|
Average score: 92% (based on 93 ratings)
Average score: 4.0 out of 5 (based on 85 ratings with 5 reviews)
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.
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
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.
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
It's been a long time since F-Zero X arrives to the videogames world, it was the first game featuring the graphical mode called "Mode-7" and inspired an entire world making new racing games. Mario Kart maybe was influenced by F-Zero X, not directly, but it was the first one and the similarities are there.
Mario Kart DS is probably a must-have. The game features many circuits, a lot of cars to choose, many characters, different cubic capacities (as difficulty levels) and a perfect multiplayer/wi-fi system. Mario Kart DS is a great game, and maybe the best of the series, with new circuits in different tournaments and special tournaments featuring old circuits from other games of the series, Mario Kart for Super Nintendo, Game Boy Advance and Nintendo Game Cub. It looks like a self-tribute for the series, and it doesn't matter that they're the same circuits as before, because they're as funny as always.
The game works as always, it's a racing game, your goal is to finish the first and win the championship, nothing more. You can use special objects to do that, from the classic shells to the useful star.
The game includes some new features, now it's not so easy to start with a nitro, you'll have to master your skill to perform that special nitro, and you'll need to take some time to do it. Skidding is now very important, much more than ever.
Beside the main championship, you have missions which really suits with the essence of the game. There are 6 levels with many missions, and you can unlock a special level with new missions if you achieve a star in the previous ones. That mode increases the game's length, and the perfect multiplayer system makes this game a must have without any doubt.
As I said, to master the starting nitro is something difficult. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing, but some players may prefer the old system. Mario Kart DS is a simple game, playable by anyone, and that's something that should be in every aspect of the game.
Objects to use are funny, but when you're in the first position (also in the second position) you can only take some determined objects like bananas or green shells, and it's a little boring. You'd rather be in the last positions to take powerful objects during some time of the race. Maybe some new objects utilizable for the first positions too could make the game much more dynamic.
Not a bad thing, but something bad for the series... Maybe they're at the top of their possibilities, and maybe we will never see again a Mario Kart as good as this one, because the game has many nice features and it looks like nothing more can be done with that, just new circuits, new objects or new characters, but the essence is still the same and it cannot be modified anymore.
The Bottom Line
A must-have, one of the best racing games ever made for a portable system. It's funny from the beginning to its end, funny to be played alone or with someone. Take your shells and bananas and infest the circuits with them!
Nintendo DS · by NeoJ (398) · 2009
1001 Video Games
Mario Kart DS appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
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).
- 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)
- 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
Related Sites +
IGCD Internet Game Cars Database
Game page on IGCD, a database that tries to archive vehicles found in video games.
Official game website
Mario Kart DS
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Mario Kart DS on Wikipedia
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European fan site
Mario Kart DS tournaments, leagues and ladders
- MobyGames ID: 20164
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by LiveFire.
Wii U added by Michael Cassidy.
Game added November 25th, 2005. Last modified November 28th, 2023.