Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS is a Nintendo DS game developed and published by Nintendo. It is the fifth installment of the Mario Kart series and the second game for a handheld console, featuring for the first time an online multiplayer mode employing the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service, as well as including a mission mode. It also features a map that displays the objects and characters present throughout the courses, making use of the DS's bottom screen.
Mario Kart DS has been generally well received, especially because of innovations such as the online mode. As such, Mario Kart DS has earned various awards and acknowledgments.
A total of twelve characters (thirteen including Shy Guy) take part in the fifth installment of the Mario Kart series. Eight can be chosen at the beginning, but the player must win gold trophies in Grand Prix mode to unlock more characters.
 Starting drivers
 Unlockable drivers
 Unlock Criteria
 Download Play Only
 Supporting Characters
Other characters play supporting roles in Mario Kart DS. Lakitu makes his return and follows the same rules except for counting down to the start of the race. Piantas cheer for the racers during gameplay as well.
 Menu Controls
 Race Controls
 Game Modes
As in Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, sixteen new courses were added in the game for the four main cups: Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup, and Special Cup. However, the game includes sixteen courses that appeared in former Mario Kart games, each one referring the game console where debuted, The Super Mario Kart tracks for SNES; the Mario Kart 64 tracks for Nintendo 64; the Mario Kart: Super Circuit tracks for GBA, and the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! tracks for GCN.
These classic courses make up four new cups called the Shell Cup, Banana Cup, Leaf Cup and Lightning Cup. There are a total of thirty-two courses in eight cups. In addition, four new battle courses appeared, while N64 Block Fort and GCN Pipe Plaza appeared in this game as Retro Battle Courses.
 Grand Prix
In Grand Prix mode (single-player only), a player competes in each cup in 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and Mirror 150cc engine classes, with ascending speed and difficulty. The game takes the point system of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! by awarding 10/8/6/4/3/2/1/0 points for first to eighth place respectively. Also, a rating of how well a player performed is shown after the trophy presentation: ***, **, *, A, B, C, D and E (E, being the lowest ranking and *** as the highest). An overall "game ranking" of *, **, or *** is shown in the Records area if the player has earned the designated ratings in all cups and all classes.
 Time Trial
In Time Trial mode (single-player only), a player goes for the fastest time on a course. The item rating of a kart determines how many mushrooms a player can have when the race starts. Vehicles with low item rate can only use one Mushroom; the ones with average item rate use two and the ones with high item rate use three. Players can choose to race against their best time as a ghost, the staff ghost (raced by a Japanese Nintendo staff player with a * game ranking), or no ghost. The game is also able to download records from other players and let the player race against their ghosts.
In VS mode (single or multiplayer), player(s) choose their Karts and head out on the race track. The player can also choose what course they race on (only if they unlocked it). Up to eight players can play locally via wireless - simple mode only uses one game card but is limited. The essential requirement is that everyone has a game card. In single-player mode, the player can choose the engine class, the CPU's difficulty level, the way the courses will be chosen - by the player, in order or random; the rules to win races (either free - never-ending races; number of wins, which only the first racer earns points, or the number of races raced (going up to thirty-two creates the "All-Cup" mode); and team race mode.
It is possible to have up to eight players play using just one Mario Kart DS game card - using the DS Download Play locally. Here, the tracks are limited, the disabilities for the Wi-Fi connection apply, and everyone must be a random color of Shy Guy, in which he becomes playable then. If everyone has a game card, all tracks are available and there are no disabilities. Battle Mode is also available. It is the same as the battle modes in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, but Shine Thief is changed into Shine Runners. The rules are different for this mode, in which players gather the most Shine Sprites on a course.
 Courses Table
The following is a table that shows all courses featured in Mario Kart DS, organized by cup.
In Battle mode, players play a different aspect of kart racing that was born from Super Mario Kart on one of six courses, two of them from past Mario Kart games. The courses are:
In single player mode, the user faces CPU controlled racers, whose difficulty can be set in the battle's setup menu. All racers drive their respective standard Kart only within this mode. Additionally, other players can join a battle locally. However, Battle Mode is unavailable on the wireless connection. Like in versus, battles can also be played in teams.
 Balloon Battle
The classic battle mode seen in all Mario Kart mainstream, gets a new twist in Mario Kart DS. From previous games, racers begin a match with three balloons. In this game, however, all players begin with a single balloon, though they can get more by blowing up their balloons using the microphone feature on the DS, or just holding the button. Each player has four balloons in stock (five in total) and racers can hold up to three balloons in battle. On the other hand, the less balloons a player has, the more powerful items will obtain from the Item Boxes. Racers may also take possession of a balloon from their opponents if the thief has used a mushroom and made contact to the opponent's kart. If the player loses all their balloons they are eliminated.
The following is what the game describes this mode as:
Burst your opponents' balloons with items! If all your inflated balloons burst, you lose! Blow into the mic or press to inflate your balloons!
 Shine Runners
Adopted from the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! version, nine Shine Sprites are scattered onto the course at the beginning. Players need to capture the Shine Sprites, and avoid to be hit, as it causes a player to lose one sprite. The sprite then moves to a random spot for someone else to grab. In the meantime, a clock ticks down to 0. Anyone with or tied with the lowest Shine total when the clock hits 0 is eliminated. The clock resets itself to a lower time and the battle continues until at least one is left (there are 9 sprites to avoid a tie, but it is possible to have two players with 4 sprites trying to get that last 1 on the course when time expires or have three players with 3 sprites each. In this case, no one is eliminated and the clock resets as usual. The less sprites a player has, the better an item is obtained (Spiny Shells and Bullet Bills remain out). Shine Runners is almost the same as Coin Runners in Mario Kart Wii and Mario Kart 7, but instead of Shine Sprites, they use Coins.
Collect more Shines than anyone else! Steal opponents' Shines to add to your total. Those with less Shines get booted over time.
Missions mode is a new single-player mode for Mario Kart DS which the player must complete some tasks and earn a ranking similarly to that in Grand Prix mode. It involves seven levels, each containing eight "missions" and a boss battle, most of which are taken from Super Mario 64 DS. Almost always the ranks depend on how much time is left or taken. There are varying mission types:
There are some one-time isolated missions as well that are self-explanatory. Each mission takes place on a course, often blocked off in some areas (sometimes even a battle course) and players are given a character in their own standard kart (CPU players are also in standard karts). None of the unlockable characters are playable, and Bowser and Donkey Kong do not fight a boss. Sometimes mushrooms are laid across the track to help the player to complete the mission. When at least a * ranking is achieved on all missions and bosses in the first six levels, Level 7 is unlocked. Boss battles are unique. They have their own battlefields and different strategies are used to beat them. All of the bosses come from Super Mario 64 DS.
 Missions Table
The following table includes the mission number, in-game mission description, time limit for the mission (0:00 signifies it's a race, and the mission finishes at 2:00 if the race is not completed), course, and character the player plays as.
 Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Mode
Mario Kart DS is the first Mario Kart game ever to support online play through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode, though it's worth noting that it's the second Mario Kart game to support online play. Being one of the first Nintendo DS games to feature wireless connection, the game mode required some technical changes in order to avoid connection malfunctions and long time loads during online play.
The following changes from the main game are enforced:
Also there are in-game changes made to reduce possible lags:
Players connect using a wireless connection or a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector (preferably high-speed.) Racers choose to search for other players in "Friends" (more info below), "Rivals" (players with a similar record), "Regional" or "Continental" in Non-American versions of the game (players in same country or continent), and "Worldwide", the latter possible to cause long lags. Other racers searching in the same category are randomly grouped. The game tries to find four players, but will eventually settle for three or two if necessary. Characters choose their characters, karts, and the course they want for the first of four races.
In addition to the 20 courses listed in order of when it is encountered, there is also a random button. After everyone's selection is placed, a course is chosen based on the responses. (If 3 players each pick a different course, the system randomly picks one. If four players choose two courses, two each, the game randomly picks from those two. On the other hand, the most voted course by a group of four or three users is selected to race. It goes like so for four races, then the points are tallied up, and after the match a player's wins and losses are totaled. (Each player receives one "win" for finishing ahead of a player and one "loss" for finishing behind of a player. For example, a player winning a 3-player match receives 2 wins and 0 losses. A player coming 2nd in a 4-player match receives 2 wins and 1 loss. A player tied for third in a 4-player match gets only 2 losses, as compared to 3. A player tied in a 2-player match is simply called a tie and does not affect either player's record.) Players can continue after the match to play the same racers again or quit to restart the process to find other players.
Problem: Trouble with friend codes
Problem: Disconnecting racers change the outcome of the match; it is later reflected in the match records.
Mario Kart DS includes the main element preserved in every Mario Kart created, and it is the use of the items; power-ups that allow the racer to take certain advantage over their opponents, obtainable by running through an Item Box. Afterwards, the Item Roulette in the top left of the screen will choose a random item. While most of the power-ups are the same since Super Mario Kart, the game have included as well some other new to increase the challenge.
Normally, leader racers receive less powerful items than stragglers in the rear. The variety of items to receive is also determined by the Items stats ratio granted to a kart. While a kart has a higher Items ratio, the player has more possibility to obtain rare items to use.
The game gives the player an indication when they receive a more powerful Item. When the Item Roulette has chosen a normal Item, it will make a simple plong sound. However if the player receives a more powerfull from the Item Roulette, it makes a more special sounding plong.
 Racing Techniques
 Rocket Start
Throughout the entire series, the Rocket Start allows racers to give them an extra boost of speed and get a head start when a race begins. To activate the technique for this installment, players should stay at the starting line and wait for the countdown to hit two. When it does reach that number and when it starts to fade, players should hold the button to rev up the kart's engine. When START appears on the race screen, the kart receives a small boost of speed out of the starting line, which is a very helpful move to get first place early on in a race. But, there is a risk to this move. If players fail to succeed, and holds the same button after the final beep, it may make the player's kart falter, and takes a few seconds to get back up to normal speed. If the player holds the after the second "ding" sound is heard and end, the player can get a boost that is a little faster than the normal small boost.
 Drifting and Powersliding
In the entire Mario Kart series, players drift by holding the button on a turn. Gray wisps come out of their kart as they turn around corners, possibly tighter or better than normal turning.
The next step up is powersliding. While drifting, players can move the D-pad to the right, left, and vice versa to produce sparks behind the kart. If done correctly, the sparks change their colors and intensity from blue to orange on each alternated move. After the sparks turn orange, the player releases the button to stop drifting and release a brief Mini-Turbo after powersliding.
Back from Mario Kart 64, slipstream is simply moving just behind another player. If racers can stay behind their opponent's vehicle for about four seconds, players get a momentary turbo boost that is strong enough to pass the other player.
 Multi Card Play
Eight people or less can play via the wireless connection of the Nintendo DS. There are little to no restrictions while activating this. Players can access any character and kart combination they want as long as they unlocked it.
 Download Play
Download Play can allow up to eight people playing the Mario Kart DS game using one (or more) game card(s). In this mode, players can only choose tracks from the Mushroom and Shell Cups. Also, instead of six battle tracks, players are only able to race on Nintendo DS, Tart Top and Pipe Plaza (chosen randomly by the system). Only the people with the game can pick their character, while the others use Shy Guy only. Shy Guy is not playable in other modes. When the players that want to Download play begin to race, each player will have a different color of Shy Guy, randomly generated with each Download Play.
In Mario Kart DS, there are 36 different karts in total.
Every kart shows six ratings:
Originally, only two karts are available for each character; an Exclusive Kart and a Standard Kart. As the player wins gold trophies in the 100cc Nitro Grand Prix, the player will unlock a second Exclusive Kart for each character. When the player wins gold trophies in the 150cc Nitro Grand Prix, four Exclusive Karts from different characters will become available, bringing the total to seven karts for each character. After winning gold trophies in the 150cc Retro Grand Prix (to unlock the Mirror) and the Nitro and Retro Grand Prixs in 150cc Mirror, each character can be paired in any of the 36 karts, making 432 combinations (excluding Shy Guy).
The following ratings are from 0 to 10 in one-tenth intervals. The Items rating will be either 3.3, 6.7, or 10. For the three karts related to each character, each one will have one and just one of all three ratings, the standard kart always being 6.7.
On a side note, it's worth noting that a kart with a high items rating will usually have lower overall stats than the standard karts. Likewise, karts with a low items rating will usually have higher overall stats than the standard karts. Karts with a high items rating tend to be heavier than the karts with a low items rating. Karts with high items rating also receive more Mushroom boosts in Time Trial mode. The player will get one Mushroom boost if the items rating is low, two if the items rating is normal, and three if the items rating is high.
The weight system used in Mario Kart DS is different from previous Mario Kart games. The weight class of the character is not as significant, as the weight does not create restrictions on the use of karts. However, the weight of a character can influence the weight of the kart. For example, Bowser driving on the Dry Bomber will have considerably more weight than Dry Bones on the same kart. For this reason, weight is omitted in the table below.
Shy Guy's kart has identical stats to those of Yoshi's Standard YS.
The options menu lets the player make their own emblem and name for racing throughout the game. They also have an option to make the emblem show up on the kart they are driving. Additionally, this emblem will show up next to a player's name while driving in a multiplayer or Nintendo WFC race. Other options include audio options and deleting data.
 Beta Elements
There were two unused items: the Chain Chomp and Bowser's Shell, although the Chain Chomp was the only one found in the item roulette. The Chain Chomp would have likely functioned the same as in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Professor Elvin Gadd was planned to be playable and would have had the Poltergust 4000 as his kart. Birdo may have also be planned as a playable character as there is a pink version of the Egg 1 found in the data.
 Chocolate Mountain Boulder Glitch
In Choco Mountain if the player goes to the lake and the water splash happens before they fall the boulder should hit them. If done correctly they start flying then the screen will turn black as if they fell into the water Lakitu will pick them up. This glitch rarely works after the first time its performed.
When the player goes up to the boardwalk that has the one item box, they must press R when they are on the wall. If timed correctly, the player can float on the side of the road. This will work in any mode.
 Pipe Plaza Bomb-Omb Glitch
In Pipe Plaza if the player has a bomb-omb and drops it near one of the pipe holes another player or a CPU should hit the bomb-omb. If done correctly the player should go through the pipe hole and he/she will fall. Lakitu will pick the player up as usual. This can also be done with a star but the star version is harder to pull off.
 Luigi's Mansion Freeze Glitch
To perform this glitch the player must pick the Luigi's Mansion track in any mode. Once the race starts, the player must then park their character on the stairs at the entrance of the mansion. After that, hold down both and to drift in place. If the player tries to turn, the game will freeze. This works with any character and kart.
 General Producer
 Mission-Run Mode Director
 Wi-Fi Mode Director
 Programming Director
 System Programming
Mario Kart DS was well received by game critics. It currently maintains a 9.2 average at Gamestats, the highest score for a Nintendo DS game on the site (as of December 2006).
Gamespy reviewer Bryn Williams said that online, Nintendo "trimmed it back a little too much for my liking", but was certain that "Even with a few online flaws, this is the best Mario Kart ever." With a rank of 5 out of 5 and describing the multiplayer experience as "great".
GameSpot reviewer Justin Calvert had similar quips with the online feature: "Whether these opponents were leaving voluntarily or because of network problems is anybody's guess, but it's equally irritating either way." He finished up similarly by saying "Mario Kart DS is without a doubt one of the best games to hit the Nintendo DS to date." Mario Kart DS received a score of 9.2 out of 10 and was regarded as GameSpot's Editor's Choice and DS game of the year.
IGN has given an overall score of 9.5 out of 10, granting the game the IGN Editor's Choice Award and DS game of the year. Reviewer Craig Harris commented that "it's just hard to ignore just how limited the online presentation is.", but ended the review with this: "The only way to finish this review is just to say it: this is the greatest Mario Kart game ever developed, and is without a doubt the best DS game of 2005."
 References to Other Games
 References in Later Games
 Names in Other Languages