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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 87 ratings with 5 reviews)

Mario Kart continues to hit the right note...

The Good
The Nintendo DS is built for unique gameplay and design structures using a dual screen/touch screen combo. Now, you'd expect every title to use the touch screen and dual screens effectively to make the most of the DS, but that isn't always true. At least 1/4 of DS titles released over its life won't use the touch screen in its design or will use it as a bonus feature outside of the main game.

That leaves two screens to work with, and most will use the second screen as either a stats collector or perhaps a secondary perspective on the action or, even worse, not at all.

So the question is, if developers only use certain elements of the DS for its design, then why have the DS at all? Why have a touch screen if most won't use it fully? Or the second screen if they won't bother with it? That's what I was worried about when I saw the launch titles for the DS, as most didn't dive deep enough. Over time, I've seen what the DS can really do ... and then there's Mario Kart.

Put aside the fact that there is a touch screen for a moment. Mario Kart DS is, at its core, the Mario Kart we've grown up with and come to love over the years in its many versions on many platforms. Nintendo has kept to that same formula, ignoring the double driver feature used in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and instead reverting back to a Mario Kart 64 style, 3D racer environment.

Let's have a closer look now. Outside of the usual collection of tracks (there are new additions to the fold and returning favourites from all of the previous titles, hyped up using the colourful DS engine), characters and weapons, there are a few unique additions that make use of the DS in a far more appropriate way then, say, controlling your character using a stylus.

A 2D top down rendition of each track appears on the second screen, perhaps not as original as you'd think. But here's the cool catch. Not only do you see the other racers, you also see the traps, such as the green or red shells dancing around, etc. So all of a sudden, you've now got an additional tactic. Gone are the days of racing along, hoping you won't get hit while looking ahead dodging frantically when a banana suddenly appears around a corner. Now, you can see everything up ahead and behind, giving you a greater chance of getting around each track fairly intact.

The second, but most importantly the biggest, addition is Wi-Fi multiplayer. Wireless play with a bunch of mates brings back the fun of the MK64 days, without having to squint as the screen is split in 4. But it's the online Wi-Fi mode that will gain the biggest attention, and being the first title to use Nintendo's free worldwide service, it works a treat. Find a hot spot, connect via a wireless ADSL router or purchase Nintendo's cheap as chips USB connector, and away you go. It couldn't be easier, and for a blast around the track with a few other people the world over (as well as searching out friends using a simple code structure), it's a lot of fun.

Certainly, Mario Kart is better in multiplayer, but finally Nintendo have put some meat onto the single player bones of the game. The 'adventure' mode is essentially a collection of challenges using each character, 8 per level, and then a boss battle at the end. It's a great addition that I'd love to see more of in the future, for sure. Certainly added plenty of added lastability to the game, after all that racing.

Battle mode also returns as always. Along with the usual 'burst the balloons', there's also a second mode in which you must collect the shines from around the track and survive the longest with the most in hand. Another fun addition.

Technically, Mario Kart DS is a well-rounded game. The sound is as clean and fun as the series always has been, with familiar tunes in-between some original scores for each track. Character sounds are there as well.

Visually, Mario Kart doesn't push the DS completely, but it's glitch free and probably a little smoother compared to its Nintendo 64 rendition, but not as detailed as Double Dash. It won't be difficult driving your kart around the track, even without a control stick that the console titles have used well. The D-Pad does a valuable job in its place, just like the old days, so there isn't any complaining from me.

The Bad
There are a few gripes, I must admit. As much as online multiplayer is a blessing for the series, and a long time coming, what's here is barebones. There are no ladders or tournaments, outside of a ranking through Nintendo's online website. Not every character, track or game mode is available online, which is a real shame. And there are a few slowdown problems and glitches here and there, especially if you have a bad net or wireless connection, but most of that should come expected when you consider the technology. It isn't always going to be perfect.

All of the new additions don't hide the fact that it's the same Mario Kart. If it wasn't for online play, this title may have had a lower score in the end. The next lot of MK titles really needs an injection of new additions. There are some new game modes here which is welcome, but I'd like to see Nintendo branch out with the character list into its other franchises. As I've said before, Super Smash Brothers proves how popular a mashing of its characters can be, so there's no reason why Link, Metroid or F-Zero characters can't join in on the fun. It also opens up a slew of new track ideas too, which would be welcome, indeed.

The Bottom Line
Overall, Mario Kart DS keeps the No. 1 Nintendo spin-off franchise going strong. After all these years, it continues to pull in the crowds and, despite a simple online service, it still has much left in it that can be explored. It may not use all of the DS' unique features, but that doesn't hamper it one bit.

I'd personally like to see a second Mario Kart title on the DS before its run comes to and end. The dual screen functions really brings and added element of strategy to the game that I'll miss come the Revolution or the next iteration of the Game Boy.

Nintendo DS · by Kartanym (12419) · 2006

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 GameRankings.com (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

Racing's never been so funny

The Good
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.

The Bad
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

[ 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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  • MobyGames ID: 20164
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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, Thorpe, CalaisianMindthief, Patrick Bregger, Victor Vance, FatherJack.

Game added November 25, 2005. Last modified February 14, 2024.