Mario Kart DS

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Mario Kart DS

Ready for a brand new way to race?!
Developer Nintendo EAD
Publisher Nintendo
Platform(s) Nintendo DS, Virtual Console (Wii U)
Release date Nintendo DS:
USA November 14, 2005
Australia November 17, 2005
Europe November 25, 2005
Japan December 8, 2005
HK December 8, 2005
ROC December 8, 2005
South Korea April 5, 2007
Virtual Console (Wii U):
Europe April 1, 2015
Australia April 2, 2015
USA April 23, 2015
Japan May 25, 2016
Language(s) Japanese, English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Spanish
Genre Racing
ESRB: - Everyone
PEGI: - Three years and older
CERO: - All ages
ACB: - General
Mode(s) Single player
Multiplayer: 2–8 players LAN, 2–4 Wi-Fi Connection
Wii U:
Digital download
Nintendo DS:
Game Card
Wii U:
Nintendo 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:(Daisy, Dry Bones, Walugi, R.O.B.)

Starting drivers

Unlockable drivers

Unlock Criteria

Unlock Criteria
Daisy Obtain 1st Place on 50cc Lightning Cup.
Dry Bones Obtain 1st Place on 50cc Special Cup.
Waluigi Obtain 1st Place on 100cc Lightning Cup.
R.O.B. Obtain 1st Place on 150cc Mirror Mode Special Cup.

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

  • +Control Pad - Move
  • A Button - Make Selection
  • B Button - Go Back One Screen
  • Stylus - Tap Selection

Race Controls

  • A Button - Accelerate/Rocket Start (hold at 2 during the countdown before the race starts)
  • B Button - Brake/Reverse
  • L Button/X Button - Use current Item/Stop Item Roulette
  • +Control Pad left or right - Steer
  • +Control Pad up or down - Throw items backward or forward.
  • R Button - Hop/Powerslide/Drift (Hold)/Mini-Turbo (Release)
  • Stylus/Y Button - Change Map View (does not work in Mission Mode)
  • Start Button - Pause/Resume Game
  • Select Button - Blow Balloon (Balloon Battle), Toggle arrows/mushrooms on/off (Time Trial)
  • Microphone - Blow Balloon (Balloon Battle)

Game Modes

The title screen with all of the playable characters, excluding Shy Guy.

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.

  • A * signifies that the course is playable via Wi-Fi.
  • A - signifies that the course isn't playable via Wi-Fi.
  • Another column shows the staff ghost time in time trial.
  • Last column shows the staff ghost character and kart combo in time trial.
Nitro Grand Prix
Mushroom Cup Flower Cup

Figure-8 Circuit
* 1:36:481 Mario/Standard MR

Desert Hills
* 1:31:262 ROB/ROB-LGS

Yoshi Falls
* 0:57:677 Yoshi/Egg 1

Delfino Square
* 1:54:601 Peach/Royale

Cheep Cheep Beach
* 1:43:654 DK/Standard DK

Waluigi Pinball
- 2:23:288 Waluigi/Gold Mantis

Luigi's Mansion
* 1:59:357 Luigi/Streamliner

Shroom Ridge
- 2:05:123 Toad/Mushmellow
Star Cup Special Cup

DK Pass
* 2:14:607 DK/Wildlife

Wario Stadium
* 2:14:868 Wario/Brute

Tick-Tock Clock
- 1:54:903 Daisy/Light Dancer

Peach Gardens
- 1:52:989 Peach/Royale

Mario Circuit
* 1:56:533 Mario/Shooting Star

Bowser Castle
- 2:19:661 Bowser/Hurricane

Airship Fortress
- 2:07:748 Bowser/Hurricane

Rainbow Road
* 2:16:246 ROB/ROB-BLS
Retro Grand Prix
Shell Cup Banana Cup

SNES Mario Circuit 1
* 0:50:688 Mario/Standard MR

SNES Donut Plains 1
- 1:08:027 Dry Bones/Dry Bomber

N64 Moo Moo Farm
* 1:17:751 DK/Wildlife

N64 Frappe Snowland
* 2:08:781 Wario/Brute

GBA Peach Circuit
* 1:12:011 Peach/Royale

GBA Bowser Castle 2
- 1:52:258 Bowser/Standard BW

GCN Luigi Circuit
* 1:29:759 Luigi/Poltergust 4000

GCN Baby Park
* 0:50:920 Toad/Mushmellow
Leaf Cup Lightning Cup

SNES Koopa Beach 2
- 0:54:847 Yoshi/Egg 1

SNES Choco Island 2
* 1:01:620 Waluigi/Zipper

N64 Choco Mountain
* 2:15:571 Wario/Dragonfly

N64 Banshee Boardwalk
- 2:14:403 Dry Bones/Dry Bomber

GBA Luigi Circuit
- 1:46:581 Luigi/Poltergust 4000

GBA Sky Garden
* 1:44:400 Daisy/Power Flower

GCN Mushroom Bridge
- 1:30:600 Toad/Mushmellow

GCN Yoshi Circuit
* 1:48:793 Yoshi/Standard YS


Mario in a Balloon Battle at Palm Shore.

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

Main article: 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 Select Button 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 Select Button to inflate your balloons!

Shine Runners

Main article: 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.


Yoshi battling Big Bully in Mission Mode.

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:

  • Driving through gates - driving in between giant half wheels in the ground. Very often the player has to pass these gates in numerical order.
  • Collecting coins - Players must pick up all the coins set in the track. Players may lose these coins by some obstacle of such course.
  • Destroying item boxes - Players must run over Item Boxes. Usually the racer will obtain Mushrooms after taking a box. In some cases, Item Boxes will move, and the player will have to catch up with it. Other missions the player must take care not to pick up the Fake Item Boxes alongside real ones.
  • Using stars, Bob-ombs, or shells to destroy enemies.
  • Driving backwards - players must use the B Button button to move, and directions on the D-pad are reversed. It is sometimes combined with other mission types.
  • Performing power boosts within a certain lap - as said. More power boosts are often required to finish faster, meaning a higher ranking.
  • Racing a CPU player for one lap - item boxes contain mushrooms and stars that the CPU can't use - the key to win. CPU players will always perform a Rocket Start. This mission type also includes a race against a Red Car and a Chain Chomp.
  • Boss Battle - Unlocked after complete the first eight courses in a level. Using items is usually a must in boss battles.

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.

Mission Mode
1-1 Drive through all 5 numbered gates in order! 0:35 Figure-8 Circuit Mario
1-2 Collect all 15 coins! 0:30 GBA Peach Circuit Peach
1-3 Destroy all 10 item boxes! 0:45 Yoshi Falls Yoshi
1-4 Get the Star and use it to hit 5 Cheep Cheeps! 0:40 Cheep Cheep Beach Wario
1-5 Drive through all 6 numbered gates in order! 0:30 Nintendo DS Toad
1-6 Drive out of the mansion...backwards! 0:45 Luigi's Mansion Luigi
1-7 Collect all 20 coins! 0:35 N64 Moo Moo Farm DK
1-8 Perform 4 power-slide turbo boosts in 1 lap! 0:45 SNES Mario Circuit 1 Mario
Boss Use Mushrooms to crash into the Big Bully and knock him off the stage! 3:00 Water Arena* Yoshi
2-1 Crash into all 10 wooden crates and destroy every one! 0:55 Delfino Square Wario
2-2 Collect all 10 coins! 0:30 Figure-8 Circuit Yoshi
2-3 Drive through all 5 numbered gates in order! 0:45 SNES Donut Plains 1 DK
2-4 Destroy all 5 item boxes! 0:35 Luigi's Mansion Luigi
2-5 Collect all 20 coins! 0:30 Cheep Cheep Beach Peach
2-6 Use Bob-ombs to destroy all 5 Pokeys! 0:55 Desert Hills Wario
2-7 Drive through all 10 numbered gates in order! 0:55 GCN Luigi Circuit Toad
2-8 Perform 6 power-slide turbo boosts in 3 laps! 0:55 GCN Baby Park Peach
Boss Hit Eyerok's eyeball 3 times with shells! 5:00 Sand Arena* Mario
3-1 Destroy all 5 item boxes! 0:50 Waluigi Pinball Wario
3-2 Drive through all 5 numbered gates in order...backwards! 0:50 Delfino Square Bowser
3-3 Collect all 15 coins while avoiding the Chain Chomp! 0:25 GCN Luigi Circuit Luigi
3-4 Reach the finish before Yoshi! 0:00 Yoshi Falls Peach
3-5 Drive through all 8 numbered gates in order! 0:45 GCN Pipe Plaza Yoshi
3-6 Hit Monty Moles with shells 5 times! 1:05 N64 Moo Moo Farm Luigi
3-7 Perform 10 power-slide turbo boosts in 1 lap! 1:10 Shroom Ridge DK
3-8 Collect all 20 coins! 1:05 Twilight House Mario
Boss Reach the finish before Goomboss! 0:00 GCN Baby Park Toad
4-1 Reach the finish before Donkey Kong! 0:00 DK Pass** Wario
4-2 Blast 20 crabs!1 2:00 Palm Shore Yoshi
4-3 Reach the finish before the red car! 0:00 Shroom Ridge Mario
4-4 Drive through all 7 numbered gates in order! 0:45 Desert Hills Wario
4-5 Collect all 15 coins. If you get squished by a Thwomp, you fail! 0:30 GBA Bowser Castle 2 Bowser
4-6 Break all 10 item boxes while avoiding the Fake Items! 1:10 N64 Choco Mountain DK
4-7 Drive through all 10 gates!2 0:45 Waluigi Pinball Toad
4-8 Perform 9 power-slide turbo boosts in 1 lap! 1:00 GBA Luigi Circuit Luigi
Boss Collect 50 coins while avoiding King Boo! 5:00 Lava Arena* Peach
5-1 Reach the finish before the stray Chain Chomp! 0:00 Peach Gardens Peach
5-2 Drive backward and collect 15 coins! If you hit a snowman, you fail! 0:30 N64 Frappe Snowland DK
5-3 Destroy all 5 item boxes! 0:35 SNES Koopa Beach 2 Toad
5-4 Drive through all 10 numbered gates in order! 1:05 GBA Bowser Castle 2 Bowser
5-5 Complete 1 lap in the opposite direction within the time limit! 0:55 GCN Mushroom Bridge Mario
5-6 Collect all 18 coins! 0:45 Tart Top Yoshi
5-7 Drive through all 8 numbered gates in order! 0:45 DK Pass** Toad
5-8 Reach the finish before Mario! 0:00 Mario Circuit Luigi
Boss Hit the Big Bob-omb with 3 Bob-ombs! 5:00 Sand Arena* Wario
6-1 Drive backward across the spinning bridge! If you fall, you're out! 0:30 Bowser Castle Bowser
6-2 Get Stars and run over 15 Rocky Wrenches! 0:55 Airship Fortress Wario
6-3 Collect all 30 coins! 0:45 SNES Choco Island 2 Yoshi
6-4 Destroy all 10 item boxes! 2:00 N64 Block Fort Mario
6-5 Drive through all 8 numbered gates in order! 0:50 GBA Sky Garden Peach
6-6 Perform 14 power-slide turbo boosts in 1 lap! 1:00 GCN Yoshi Circuit Yoshi
6-7 Collect all 40 coins! 1:30 Tick-Tock Clock Toad
6-8 Reach the finish before Peach! 0:00 Peach Gardens** Bowser
Boss Use Mushroom boosts to hit Chief Chilly and knock him off the stage 3 times! 5:00 Water Arena* Luigi
7-1 Perform 6 power-slide turbo boosts in 1 lap! 1:00 Rainbow Road Peach
7-2 Reach the finish before Bowser! 0:00 Bowser Castle Mario
7-3 Complete 2 laps within the time limit!3 1:30 Tick-Tock Clock DK
7-4 Use shells to defeat all 30 Goombas within the time limit! 2:00 Mario Circuit Toad
7-5 Collect all 20 coins! 0:55 Wario Stadium Wario
7-6 Drive through all 8 numbered gates in order! 0:11 Nintendo DS Mario
7-7 Drive backward and collect all 12 coins! If you hit a burner, you fail! 0:50 Airship Fortress Bowser
7-8 Break all 10 item boxes while avoiding the Fake Items! 1:05 N64 Banshee Boardwalk Luigi
Boss Reach the finish before Wiggler! 0:00 GCN Mushroom Bridge Mario
*Conjectural title based on surroundings.
**Denotes that the player drives through the course in the opposite direction.
1Using Green Shells (solo or triple) and Bob-ombs
2The gates don't necessarily have to be driven through in order.
3Players can use any means - normal or powersliding - to finish.

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:

  • Only up to four players
  • Only 100cc engine is available
  • 12 of 32 courses are omitted

Also there are in-game changes made to reduce possible lags:

  • No triple Bananas or triple shells
  • No spilled Items onto course to be used or tripped on - items are just lost
  • No items held behind racer
  • Item roulette cannot be stopped early
  • Course obstacles cannot be destroyed (e.g. boxes in Delfino Square or snowballs in DK Pass)
Point Spread Comparisons
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th
SMK + MK64 + MKSC GP 9 6 3 1 - - - -
MKDD + MKDS GP 10 8 6 4 3 2 1 0
WFC 4 Players 10 7 4 1 - - - -
WFC 3 Players 10 7 4 - - - - -
WFC 2 Players 10 5 - - - - - -
Signifies victory results (great clapping, character(s) cheering), best after-race music
Signifies moderate results (mild clapping, moderate character reaction), same music in Wi-Fi as winner but different in Grand Prix
Normal bg signifies losing results, losing music
Not available
- signifies that the game forces the player to retry the race (0 pts). If the racer comes in 5th-8th three times, the Grand Prix must be started over.


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

A) Friend Code System. Each copy of the game comes with a 12-digit code known as a "friend code". Players can enter other codes into the other player's "friend roster" to create a friend list, where Wi-Fi records between the players is stored. When a friend is online at the same time, a symbol will appear above the Wi-Fi strength symbol, whether trying to find racers or during racing. Yet, both (or more) players must have each (or all) of their friend codes registered and be looking in the friends section at the same time to hook up. If the player were to find a racer to compete against elsewhere online, there's no communication for a friend code swap; the only way to race again is to do it right away by selecting continue after a match.

Problem: Disconnecting racers change the outcome of the match; it is later reflected in the match records.

B) Disconnecting. Take this scenario into consideration:
Bob started in a four-player match, but two people have disconnected since, and he is now in a two-player match against a three-star player, and has come 2nd and 3rd in the first 2 races. It is 20-11. Bob wins the next match, bringing the totals to 25-21. But, in the fourth race, the three-star player is a full half-lap ahead with one lap to go. Bob realizes that he might not win this race; however, Bob has researched about Wi-Fi connections and has learned a trick. He leaves his DS untouched, bringing his kart to a stop, then finds his wireless router, and disconnects it. According to the record-book, Bob has won the match from which he has disconnected.


  • The two players who disconnected earlier are experiencing certain effects. When a player is disconnected from Wi-Fi via turning off his or her DS, the player is charged with the same number of losses as there are other players. Players can disconnect at any time, but if they cancel before the first course is chosen, there is no effect on the win-loss record. Other players finishing the whole match gain one win per disconnected player.
  • Refer to the point spread chart for WFC. Mid-match, due to disconnected players, the point spread can change. For example, when it goes down from 4 to 3 players, the point conversion is not affected for the top three. Yet, from three to two, it is. In the first two races, Bob lost 3 and 6 points to the three-star player, under the 10-7-4(-1) point spread. But, if he had won the last two races, under the 10-5 point spread, he would have recovered 10 points - and would have won, 31-30, even though he came in 3rd once and only won two out of four races.
  • Players occasionally disconnect when losing. A glitch in the game effects the final results, and this is exactly what Bob does in the scenario. Instead of turning off the DS, he disconnects his actual connection. The three-star player would have gained 3 wins, but when everyone disconnects, it takes no effect on the winning player's records.
    • To restate and make clear: if Bob would have played it out and lost the 4th race, the result would have been 35-26, in favor of the three-star player.


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.

Some Items are not available in Battle Mode. Just as in Racing Mode, leaders who have the most Balloons or Shines will receive less powerful items accordingly.

Image Name Description
Mushroom Gives players a short speed boost that ignores terrain.
Triple Mushrooms Gives players three Mushrooms, which give separate boosts. The default item in Time Trial mode.
Golden Mushroom The driver gets an infinite amount of mushroom boosts for 7.5 seconds.
Item Box Drivers are able to run into these item boxes to obtain an item, depending on their rank on the current race course.
Fake Item Box This item imitates an Item Box, in which it is colored red and the ? mark is flipped upside down. It causes opponents to flip over once hit. It cannot block item attacks.
Banana When drivers run into them, it causes them to slip and slow down.
Triple Bananas This item gives the driver a trail of three bananas.
Green Shell A basic green shell that can be thrown forwards and backwards. It bounces off obstacles several times before it hits an opponent or is destroyed.
Triple Green Shells Three green shells that surround the racer until released.
Red Shell A fragile shell that tracks the nearest opponent when fired forward. Will break if it hits an obstacle
Triple Red Shells Three red shells that surround the racer until released.
Spiny Shell A blue shell that flies directly to the first place racer and explodes.
Star The driver obtains total invincibility for 7.5 seconds, allowing them to knock over items, course obstacles and other players on contact which makes them lose all items in their possession. Also, the driver receives a speed boost and the power to drive off-road with no speed loss.
Lightning Lightning strikes every racer (other than user), causing them to spin out, drop their items and shrink to very small size, driving more slowly. The effects wear off from lowest place to first.
Bob-omb Blows up a racer anywhere on the track. Has the same effect as the spiny shell except that it can be lobbed or tossed backwards just like a banana.
New Item
Squirts ink on any racer ahead of the user, partially obscuring vision. It eventually wears off, but can be immediately removed by a speed boost from a mushroom or boost tile, etc.
Bullet Bill
New Item
Transforms the racer into a large Bullet Bill, which rockets down the entire track at very high speeds on auto-pilot. The Bullet Bill provides total invincibility and will knock over any item, any course hazard and any player that is in the way making them lose or drop all their items.
Boo The Boo will search for the best item in the race field, will steal it and will give the user the stolen item so that they can use it. In addition, the Boo makes the driver invisible from other racers and totally invincible, so the driver can pass through items, course hazards and other players without getting hit. The user can drive off-road without suffering any slow down with a Boo.

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 A Button 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, the kart's engine dies out, and takes a few seconds to get back up to normal speed. If the player holds the A Button 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.

Yoshi powersliding at Figure-8 Circuit.

Drifting and Powersliding

In the entire Mario Kart series, players drift by holding the R Button 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 R Button button to stop drifting and release a brief Mini-Turbo after powersliding.


Back from Mario Kart 64, Drafting (also called 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 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.


The kart selection screen in Mario Kart DS with Mario only.

In Mario Kart DS, there are 36 different karts in total.

Every kart shows six ratings:

  • Speed: How high the top speed of the kart is; how fast the kart can go. Bowser and R.O.B. have the fastest karts.
  • Acceleration: The time the kart's top speed is achieved when accelerating (the higher the acceleration, the shorter players wait until they reach their kart's top speed, and the lower it is, the longer they wait). Dry Bones's karts can reach their top speed very quickly.
  • Weight: While a vehicle is heavy, the driver can knock a lighter kart. Bowser's and R.O.B.'s karts are very heavy.
  • Handling: How tight the kart can normally turn without drifting. Dry Bones has the best turning curve.
  • Drift: How tight the kart turns while drifting or powersliding. Peach has the best drifting curve.
  • Items: The variety of items to use when touching an Item Box (a high Items rating signifies a higher chance of getting Triple Bananas in first place, Triple Mushrooms in 3rd, 4th, etc).

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 Special Cup, the player will unlock a second Exclusive Kart for each character. When the player wins gold trophies in the 150cc Special Cup, 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 Lightning Cup (to unlock the Mirror) and the 150cc Mirror Lightning Cup, 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.

Low stats High stats Sp: Speed Acc: Acceleration Ha: Handling Dri: Drift Ite: Items

Kart Sp Acc Ha Dri Ite Character Kart (2) Sp Acc Ha Dri Ite Character
4-Wheel Cradle 3.3 8.5 6.1 6.5 10 Toad Royale 4.1 6.9 4.3 9.5 10 Peach
Banisher 2.5 9.7 9.2 4.5 10 Dry Bones Shooting Star 6.7 7.5 6.0 5.9 3.3 Mario
B Dasher 5.9 6.8 5.3 5.6 10 Mario Standard BW 9.7 2.9 2.8 6.8 6.7 Bowser
Brute 9.3 5.3 5.0 4.9 3.3 Wario Standard DB 3.0 9.9 9.7 4.7 6.7 Dry Bones
Cucumber 4.9 8.8 8.0 3.6 10 Yoshi Standard DK 8.0 4.7 3.4 7.8 6.7 Donkey Kong
Dragonfly 8.3 4.6 4.5 4.5 10 Wario Standard DS 6.5 6.5 3.9 8.8 6.7 Daisy
Dry Bomber 3.4 10 10 4.9 3.3 Dry Bones Standard LG 7.1 7.4 7.3 3.1 6.7 Luigi
Egg 1 5.8 9.2 8.9 4.1 3.3 Yoshi Standard MR 6.6 7.3 5.6 5.7 6.7 Mario
Gold Mantis 7.6 6.6 6.0 5.9 3.3 Waluigi Standard PC 4.7 7.3 4.8 9.8 6.7 Peach
Hurricane 10 3.4 3.1 6.9 3.3 Bowser Standard RB 9.7 5.3 6.6 2.6 6.7 ROB
Light Dancer 6.7 6.6 4.3 8.9 3.3 Daisy Standard TD 3.9 8.5 6.4 6.7 6.7 Toad
Light Tripper 5.0 7.5 5.0 10 3.3 Peach Standard WL 7.1 6.3 5.6 5.8 6.7 Waluigi
Mushmellow 4.3 8.7 7.0 7.0 3.3 Toad Standard WR 8.8 4.9 4.7 4.8 6.7 Wario
Poltergust 4000 7.5 7.6 7.7 3.2 3.3 Luigi Standard YS 5.5 9.0 8.5 3.9 6.7 Yoshi
Power Flower 5.8 6.1 3.5 8.5 10 Daisy Streamliner 6.5 7.1 6.9 2.9 10 Luigi
Rambi Rider 7.5 4.4 3.0 7.5 10 Donkey Kong Tyrant 9.0 2.5 2.5 6.5 10 Bowser
ROB-BLS 10 5.5 6.9 2.8 3.3 ROB Wildlife 8.3 4.9 3.7 7.9 3.3 Donkey Kong
ROB-LGS 9.0 4.8 6.0 2.5 10 ROB Zipper 6.7 5.9 5.1 5.5 10 Waluigi
Note: Margin of error ± .2 points
Shy Guy's kart has identical stats to those of Yoshi's Standard YS.


Emblem maker
Emblem with Mario
The emblem maker can be used to make a variety of designs, for example this picture of Mario.

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.


For this subject's image gallery, see Mario Kart DS/gallery.

Beta Elements

Main article: List of Mario Kart DS 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 was also planned as a playable character as there is a pink version of the Egg 1 found in the data. Toadette and Koopa Troopa were also planned for the game as well. They were eventually cut and possibly replaced with Dry Bones, Daisy, Waluigi, and R.O.B. respectively.


Main article: List of glitches in Mario Kart DS

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.

Delfino Square Boardwalk Glitch

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 A Button and B Button to drift in place. If the player tries to turn, the game will freeze. This works with any character and kart.


Main article: List of Mario Kart DS staff

General Producer



  • Makoto Wada
  • Yasuyuki Oyagi

Mission-Run Mode Director

  • Kimiharu Hyodo

Wi-Fi Mode Director

  • Katsuhito Nishimura


  • Shinya Hiratake
  • Taku Matoba

Programming Director

  • Katsuhisa Sato

System Programming

  • Yusuke Shiraiwa

Critical Acclaim

Mario Kart DS was well received by game critics. It currently maintains a 9.2 average at Gamestats, #1 on the Nintendo DS (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. (9.2/10; Gamespot Editor's Choice; 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."

IGN also stated it as the best DS game in it top 25 DS games.

References to Other Games

References in Later Games

Names in Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Japanese マリオカート DS
Mario Kāto DS
Mario Kart DS
Korean 마리오 카트 DS
Mario Kateu DS
Mario Kart DS


  • In all four Nintendogs games, a kart is unlockable as a toy. The unlockable karts are the Mario kart, Peach kart, and Bowser kart. They are the standard models from Mario Kart DS.
  • This is the first game in the series to use the current logo in its title.
  • The instruction booklet for earlier versions of this game makes an error in page 9. "Perform" is misspelled as "perfprm". This was fixed in later releases of the game.
    • Another error can be found in page 12, where the text of Blooper states, "Sprays ink on the all of the karts in front of you,...", where there is an extra "the" in between "on" and "all". This was not fixed in later releases of the game, however.

External links

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