Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS is a Nintendo DS racing game developed and published by Nintendo. It is the fifth main installment of the Mario Kart series and the second game for a handheld console. Mario Kart DS was released first in North America, in November 14, 2005, and is the first and only mainstream Mario Kart game to be released first in North America. Unlike its predecessor, Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, it retains the traditional single-driver kart racing elements in the Mario Kart series, where players race against seven competitors in obstacle tracks, using item-based weaponry to gain further advantages over their opponents. It is the first handheld Mario Kart title to use live-rendered 3D graphics for most of the objects in the game, including characters, vehicles, and racetracks.
Mario Kart DS expands and introduces mechanics that would later become the standard in future titles, most notably the Retro Grand Prix, and the advent of retro courses in general, that revamps tracks from all previous titles from the Mario Kart series. Mario Kart DS supports both single pak and multi-pak gameplay via DS Download Play, and is the first Mario title to support Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, allowing players to race against opponents by using online services across the world. As of May 2014, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection has been discontinued, making online play no longer possible.
Mario Kart DS has its own mechanics that are not available in other Mario Kart games, such as customizing emblems for the vehicles, and the Missions mode, in which racers are tasked to complete objectives in a short series of events. The game also makes use of the Nintendo DS's features, using the bottom screen to display other HUD elements such as two types of maps, character order, and what items their opponents have.
Wii U Menu controls
Wii U Race controls
As in Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the game introduced sixteen courses for the four main cups: Mushroom Cup, Flower Cup, Star Cup, and Special Cup, which are collectively known as the nitro cups. The game also includes sixteen courses that appeared in earlier Mario Kart games and are part of the retro cups: Shell Cup, Banana Cup, Leaf Cup, and the Lightning Cup. These cups are sorted by difficulty in the same way as the nitro cups.
In every retro cup, each of the four courses originate from a different Mario Kart game. Every retro cup has their courses ordered in the same way as the release order of the four previous Mario Kart games. Furthermore, every retro course's name starts with an abbreviation of the game console that their originating game was released for:
Grand Prix is a single player-exclusive mode. In it, a player competes in each cup in 50cc, 100cc, 150cc, and Mirror 150cc engine classes, with ascending speed and difficulty. The game reuses 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. A rating of how well a player performed is shown after the trophy presentation, from highest to lowest: ★★★, ★★, ★, A, B, C, D and E. An overall "game ranking" of ★, ★★, or ★★★ is shown in the Records area if the player has earned the designated rating in every cup and class.
Time Trial is a single player-exclusive mode. In it, the player's character races to complete a course in the fastest time. The item rating of a kart determines how many Mushrooms the racer can have once they start the race; 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 can download records from other players, allowing the player's character to race their Ghosts.
In VS mode (single or multiplayer), player(s) choose their Karts and head out on the race track. They can earn points based of their finish position in each race. The player can also choose what course they race on (provided they've 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 DS or 3DS system. In VS 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 - infinite races; number of wins from 1 to 10 - where only the first racer earns points, or the number of races from 1 up to 32 (functions similarly to the All-Cup Tour from Mario Kart: Double Dash!), 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, only the Mushroom Cup and Shell Cup tracks are playable, and everyone must play as 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 limitations.
When playing in VS races where players place for a set number of races rather than for a set number of wins, players score points based off their finish position. If the game is being played in teams, the amount of points each player earns for each race is multiplied by about 1.5. The point system is the same as the one used in Wi-Fi when playing with 2-4 players and the one used in Grand Prix when playing with 8 players or with CPU opponents. However, when playing with 5-7 players, the distribution is as follows:
In Battle mode, there are six battle stages, four of which are original and two are from an earlier Mario Kart game:
* - Not playable in the simple version of multiplayer mode.
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 (note that all the standard karts have the same stats in battle mode and only the weight will differ, depending on the weight of the character chosen). Additionally, other players can join a battle locally. However, Battle Mode is unavailable on the Wi-Fi mode. Like in versus, battles can also be played in teams, and rounds in team battles end when all of one team's players have been eliminated.
Mario Kart DS is the only Mario Kart game that have the name of the retro battle courses that do not state the abbreviation of the game console version of the Mario Kart game they were from; in other words, the game does not list Block Fort and Pipe Plaza as N64 Block Fort and GCN Pipe Plaza. Additionally, its retro battle courses do not have the same music as in their original appearances. Instead, they have the same music used for nitro battle courses.
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:
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 to avoid being 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 zero. Anyone with or tied with the lowest Shine total when the clock hits zero is eliminated. The clock resets itself to a lower time and the battle continues until at least one is left (there are nine sprites to avoid a tie, but it is possible to have two players with four sprites each or four players with two sprites each or all eight players with one sprite each trying to get that last one on the course when time expires, or have three players with three sprites each; in either 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, Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, but instead of Shine Sprites, they use coins.
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 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. When the boss battles of Level 6 and 7 are completed, the first version of the staff credits is shown.
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 was the first Nintendo game to support online play (which has since been discontinued) though it's worth noting that it's the second Mario Kart game to support online connectivity, with the Japanese version of Mario Kart: Super Circuit being the first (the use of online connectivity for this game was made primarily to exchange ghost data with other players). 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 and restrictions were applied to prevent excessive lags:
Players could connect using a wireless connection or a Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector (preferably high-speed.) Racers would 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 were randomly grouped. The game tried to find four players, but eventually settled for three or two if necessary. Players chose their characters, karts, and the course they wanted for the first of four races.
In addition to the 20 courses listed in order of when it is encountered, there was also a random button. After everyone's selection was placed, a course was chosen based on the responses. If all players each picked a different course, the system randomly picked one. If four players chose two courses, two each, the game randomly selected from those two. On the other hand, the most voted course by a group of users was selected to race. It proceeded like so for four races, then the points were tallied up, and after the match, a player's wins and losses were totaled.
Each player received one "win" for finishing ahead of a player and one "loss" for finishing behind of a player. If a player tied with another player, it did not count as a "win" or "loss". For example:
Players could 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.
The main game has 12 playable characters, 4 of which are unlockable. The eight starting characters, Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Toad, Donkey Kong, Wario and Bowser, were taken from Mario Kart 64 and Mario Kart: Super Circuit. The other four drivers can be unlocked by winning a gold trophy of certain cups in Grand Prix mode. Two of the unlockable characters, Daisy and Waluigi, return from Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, and the other two, Dry Bones and R.O.B., make their first Mario Kart playable appearance. A 13th racer, Shy Guy, debuts as a playable character, but is only playable to players using DS Download Play.
These characters are non-playable. They appear as either spectators, hazards, or obstacles of certain courses.
In addition to the sixteen standard courses, Mario Kart DS is the first game in the series to include the Retro Grand Prix, which has been carried over into every future installment in the series to date. The Retro Grand Prix consists of sixteen courses from past Mario Kart games updated and compiled into four additional cups. This makes a total of 8 cups and 32 courses. Mario Kart DS is the only Mario Kart game where there is no Mario Circuit in the Flower Cup, unlike other Mario Kart games.
This is the only Mario Kart game to have three Grand Prix introduction fanfares; one for Figure-8 Circuit, Waluigi Pinball, Mario Circuit, and GCN Luigi Circuit, one for Wario Stadium, and one for the other courses.
Nitro Grand Prix
Retro Grand Prix
* - Was playable on Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection
Staff Ghosts are Time Trial races that were previously done by a Nintendo staff member. Every course has its unlockable Staff Ghost that the player can race against if their completion time is close to the Staff Ghost's. Most courses require a minimum of completing a course at least 5–10 seconds after the Staff Ghost does.
As with other Mario Kart games, a main element of Mario Kart DS are the pick-up items that allow the racer to take certain advantage over their opponents. An item can be obtained by driving into an Item Box. This causes the item roulette at the top-left corner of the screen. Racers in higher positions receive less powerful items than racers in lower positions. Some items are unavailable in Battle Mode, and in the mode, similar to normal races, leaders with the most Balloons or Shine Sprites receive less powerful items.
Each kart has an Items stats ratio, which determines the variety of items that a racer can receive; karts with a higher items ratio are more likely to receive rare items. In subsequent games, this stat was removed, making position the only factor that influences items. When the Item Roulette has chosen a normal item, it makes a simple plong sound, but if the racer receives a more powerful item, it makes a stronger plong sound.
The game introduces two items, Bullet Bill and Blooper, both of which have since appeared in every subsequent Mario Kart game. Most of Mario Kart DS's item artworks are from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! except for the Fake Item Box, Triple Bananas, Boo, Bullet Bill and Blooper.
1 - The instruction booklet provides this description in page 10
Throughout the entire series, the Rocket Start allow drivers to give them an extra speed boost and get a head start when a race begins. To use 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 from 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 hold the button before the two fades, 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 +Control 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. This can be used to dodge Spiny Shell if combined with a hop only during 100cc and 150cc races.
A player can perform a useful technique known as snaking by performing consecutive mini-turbos in a zigzagged direction, which offers a player the boost they need to get further ahead. This technique is much easier to perform with karts with higher handling, especially with Dry Bones.
Back from Mario Kart 64, Slipstreaming is simply moving just behind another player. If racers can stay behind their opponent's vehicle for about four seconds, players get a momentary speed boost that is strong enough to pass the other player.
The multiplayer mode allows up to eight players to play either by multi-card or by Download Play mode.
Players with a copy of Mario Kart DS can select any default character and kart combination, along with ones they have unlocked. Unlocked courses from any of the game cards can also be selected.
In Download Play mode, players can only select courses from the Mushroom Cup and the Shell Cup. Only three of the battle courses are available—Nintendo DS, Tart Top and Pipe Plaza—which are always selected by the game at random. Download Play participants are forced to play as Shy Guy, whose color is selected by the game randomly.
In Mario Kart DS, there are 36 different karts (37 if including the Standard SG) in total.
Every kart shows six ratings:
For all stats, one or more karts will have a rating of one-hundred for that stat; for example, the Hurricane and ROB-BLS have speed ratings of one-hundred, the Dry Bomber has both acceleration and handling rates of one-hundred, the Tyrant has a weight rating of one-hundred if normally paired with Bowser, the Light Tripper has a drift rating of one-hundred, and each character has one kart each with an items rating of one-hundred (one of the Exclusive Karts), an items rating of sixty-six (all of the Standard Karts), and an items rating of thirty-three (one of the Exclusive Karts).
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 a gold trophy in either 150cc Special Cup or Lightning Cup, four Exclusive Karts from different characters will become available, bringing the total to seven karts for each character. After winning gold trophies in all eight 150cc cups (to unlock the Mirror) and all cups in Mirror Mode, each character can be paired in any of the 36 karts, making 432 combinations (excluding Shy Guy). CPU drivers will only use their characters' respective exclusive or standard karts in races and battles.
The following ratings are from zero to one hundred, directly obtained from the values used by the game to fill the bar in the kart selection screen. On a side note, it is 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 class of the character does not play an important role in Mario Kart DS, as the weight does not create Kart use restrictions.
Mario Kart DS features several in-game statistics, some of which are not shown in the kart selection menu. There are three types of Tires, either Small (S), Medium (M) or Large (L). Just like in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, there is a Mini-Turbo statistics that corresponds to the length of the Mini-Turbo boost in frames. Acceleration is determined by three triplets of values, that are presumably related to the acceleration while drifting and the acceleration in all other conditions; there is also a deceleration value that determines the speed of the next frame as fraction of the current speed when not accelerating (such as when the kart is spinning or the acceleration button is not being held). There are four different types of off-road terrains, and accordingly the karts have four off-road statistics that are the relative top speed in each type of terrain.
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.
Pre-release and unused content
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.
Choco Mountain boulder glitch
In Choco Mountain, if the player goes to the lake and the water splashes before they fall, the boulder should hit them. If done correctly, they should start flying. The screen will then turn black as if they fell into the water. Lakitu will then pick them up. This glitch rarely works after the first time it's performed.
Delfino Square boardwalk glitch
When the player goes up to the boardwalk that has the one item box, they must press 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 Bob-omb glitch
In Pipe Plaza, if the player has a Bob-omb and drops it near one of the pipe holes, another player or a CPU should hit the Bob-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 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 with any character and kart. 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 sometimes freeze. This glitch was fixed on the Wii U Virtual Console release.
Mini-Spin turn item glitch
To perform this glitch, the player must drive towards an item box in any mode (battle mode is preferred) and sit themselves right in the center where it appears so that they continuously break it open when it appears again. Then, the player should hold either left or right on . When the item box appears again, it will break as usual, and the player will turn a very small amount in the direction pressed. Given time, so long as the player doesn't move, the player can turn all the way round in the direction pressed.
Mission-Run Mode Director
Wi-Fi Mode Director
Mario Kart DS received critical acclaim. 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."
Mario Kart DS is the 3rd best selling game for the Nintendo DS, selling 23.56 million copies worldwide.
Notable mistakes and errors
References to other games
References in later games
Names in other languages