Mario Kart DS
Developer(s) Nintendo
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Release date(s) America November 14, 2005
Australia November 17, 2005
Europe November 25, 2005
Japan December 8, 2005
KO April 5, 2007
Genre(s) Racing
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer, online multiplayer
Rating(s) ESRB: Everyone Everyone
Platform(s) Nintendo DS
Media Nintendo DS Game Card
Preceded by Mario Kart Arcade GP
Followed by Mario Kart Wii

Mario Kart DS, abbreviated to MKDS or MK:DS, is a racing game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo DS. It is the fifth installment in the series and the first to use Nintendo's free online service, Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The game was released in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe in 2005, and in Japan in 2005. It was well received critically, scoring an average of 91% from Metacritic. Many reviewers have called it the best Mario Kart game in the series.

Like other games in the Mario Kart series, Mario Kart DS involves various characters from various Mario games racing each other in go-karts on tracks themed from locations in the Mario series, less realistic physics, and the use of various weapons and or items to achieve victory differentiates kart racing games like MKDS from more realistic racing games.

Gameplay Edit

In Grand Prix mode, the player competes against seven computer-controlled racers. There are two Grand Prix in Mario Kart DS, each consisting of four cups, and each cup consisting of four race tracks. Nitro GP contains sixteen brand new tracks while Retro GP contains sixteen tracks converted from previous entries in the Mario Kart series. There are three engine classes which serve as difficulty levels for the Grand Prix mode: 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. The higher the engine class, the faster all the karts go. A 150cc Mirror Mode is also an unlockable, in which all the 150cc tracks are flipped horizontally, as if seeing the game in a mirror.

Another staple of past Mario Kart games, Battle Mode, also makes a return. Battle modes include Balloon Battle, in which you try to pop everyone else's balloons by attacking them or steal them with mushrooms and eliminate them, or Shine Runners, in which you try to collect the most Shine Sprites. Eventually, players with the least amount of Shine Sprites will be eliminated from the game.

Items also appear in the DS sequel. There are old items such as Fake Item Boxes and Bananas. There are also new Items such as Blooper and Bullet Bill.

In the new Mission Mode, players control a specific character in that character's standard kart, and must perform eight individual missions, whose objectives range from collecting coins to attacking enemies. Players are then ranked based on their performance, and given either an E, D, C, B, A, or one to three stars if the task is completed by a certain time. In order to advance to the next level, players must complete a "boss" task, which is unlocked after all eight of a level's missions are completed. Completing all missions in level 1 through 6 with at least a 1 star rating on each mission opens up a secret 7th level with more challenging missions to complete. It should be noted that there are no missions where one of the unlockable characters is playable.

In Time Trial Mode, players try to finish a course in as short a time as possible.

While racing, the top screen of the Nintendo DS displays a third-person perspective behind and slightly above the player's vehicle. The bottom screen lists the current race standings, items carried by each player, and a map of the course. The map can be toggled to show an overall view of the entire course, or a close-up view of the racer's immediate vicinity. The close-up view is very detailed, showing nearby racer positions, course hazards, item boxes, and even incoming attacks.

Each playable character starts out with two karts: one special kart unique to that character, and a standard kart resembling a real go-kart. These karts have slightly different stats, although their general strengths are the same. As a player progresses through the game, he or she can unlock a third special kart for each character, also with slightly different stats. Ultimately, the player can unlock the ability to use any of the 36 total karts with any character. When a player is selecting their kart for a race, the game lists the kart's max speed, acceleration, weight, handling, drifting ability, and the quality of items the kart is likely to receive.

Each course features numerous item boxes that players can drive through to receive a randomly-selected item. Whichever item the player receives is generally dependent upon their current position in the race and, to a lesser extent, the item stat of the player's kart; Players near the front will tend to receive rear-attack items, while players trailing in the back of the race will tend to receive more powerful items. Most attack items can be targeted forwards or backwards by holding the appropriate direction on the D-pad when using the item against other. New items like Bullet Bill transformation have also been added in the game.

Mini-Turbos, a feature first introduced in Mario Kart 64, returns in Mario Kart DS. Mini-Turbos are momentary speed boosts that can be obtained while drifting. Also featured in Mario Kart DS and not to be confused with drifting is the ability to draft behind an opponent's kart. If the player is close enough, white streaks will start flying by their kart, and their speed will begin to increase. If the player maintains this position long enough, they will receive a noticeable speed boost, allowing them to easily overtake and pass the opponent.

New to the game are "emblems", or player icons. Using a simple drawing program interface, a player can create a customized emblem. During the race, each player's emblem appears as a decal on their kart, and in multi-player matches, opponents can see the player's name and emblem prominently overlaid above their kart's position on the opponent's screen. The player's emblem is also, on Wi-Fi play, shown to their opponents once the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection has found opponents and initiated a match.

Racers Edit

There are 13 characters in Mario Kart DS, ten are from previous Mario Kart games and three of them are new to the series. The new ones are Dry Bones, Shy Guy, and R.O.B. However, Shy Guy was not directly playable, and you could only play as him by doing a simple multiplayer match, and downloading off someone else. Shy Guy is also the only CPU player in the Mario Kart Nintendo DS Download Kiosk demo, available from version 1 of the USA kiosk, however the player will race against 7 differently colored Shy Guys at once in the single player mode.

  • Mario
  • Luigi
  • Peach
  • Toad
  • Yoshi
  • Bowser
  • Donkey Kong
  • Wario
  • Waluigi (unlockable)
  • Daisy (unlockable)
  • Dry Bones (unlockable)
  • R.O.B. (unlockable)
  • Shy Guy (only for people using DS download play)


This is the 2nd game in the Mario Kart series that has Retro tracks in addition to never-before seen tracks.

Nitro CoursesEdit

Mushroom Cup Flower Cup Star Cup Special Cup
Figure-8 Circuit Desert Hills DK Pass Wario Stadium
Yoshi Falls Delfino Square Tick Tock Clock Peach Gardens
Cheep Cheep Beach Waluigi Pinball Mario Circuit Bowser's Castle
Luigi's Mansion Shroom Ridge Airship Fortress Rainbow Road

Retro CoursesEdit

Shell Cup Banana Cup Leaf Cup Lightning Cup
SNES Mario Circuit 1 SNES Donut Plains 1 SNES Koopa Beach 2 SNES Choco Island 2
N64 Moo Moo Farm N64 Frappe Snowland N64 Choco Mountain N64 Banshee Boardwalk
GBA Peach Circuit GBA Bowser Castle 2 GBA Luigi Circuit GBA Sky Garden
GCN Luigi Circuit GCN Baby Park GCN Mushroom Bridge GCN Yoshi Circuit

Battle CoursesEdit

Normal Courses Retro Courses
Nintendo DS N64 Block Fort
Twilight House GCN Pipe Plaza
Tart Top N/A
Palm Shore N/A


  • Banana Peel/Triple Banana
  • Green Shell/Triple Green Shell
  • Red Shell/Triple Red Shell
  • Spiny Shell
  • Fake Item Box
  • Star
  • Thunderbolt
  • Ghost
  • Blooper (New)
  • Bullet Bill (New)
  • Mushroom/Triple Mushroom/Golden Mushroom
  • Bob-omb


The newest feature of the game. An emblem is a decalcomania or picture that appears as a sort of symbol for someone on their kart. The emblem appears only on certain places on a kart, and depending on where its put, the emblem may be smaller, bigger and/or stretched out. The player also has the ability to choose from various patterns ranging from a Starman to Lightning and also the shape of Mario's face. The player also can choose not to use a custom emblem and to use an original emblem already designed for the player. The player might do this if he/she has an unfinshed emblem that they don't want no one else to see. The original emblems for characters are a follows:

  • Mario - A white circle with a red M on it as seen on the case.
  • Luigi - A white circle with a green L on it.
  • Peach - Her crown.
  • Daisy - Her flower pattern.
  • Toad - A Mushroom
  • Yoshi - His egg.
  • Bowser - A black circle with his red crest from Super Mario 64.
  • D.K. - His signature red circle with a yellow DK on it.
  • Wario - His purple W.
  • Waluigi - His yellow L.
  • Dry Bones - A picture of the side of his face.
  • R.O.B. - The control pad of the DS.
  • Shy Guy (Simple Multiplayer only) - A picture of his face.


  • This game introduced many new items, and unlike in Mario Kart:Double Dash!! where except for the Golden Mushroom, the Bob-omb, the Triple Green Shell and the Triple Red Shell the special items were never seen again, this game's items except for the Boo item all reappeared.
  • This is the only game which guarantees all players all karts.
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