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Mario Kart DS (Japanese: マリオカートDS Mariokāto DS) (マリオカーDS Mario Kāto Dī Esu) often abbreviated to MKDS, is the first Nintendo DS installment of Mario Kart for the Nintendo DS. It is the fifth installment in the Mario Kart game series. It was the first Mario Kart game to use an online play feature. It was released in November 2005 in the United States, Europe, and Australia, in Japan on December 8, 2005, and in South Korea on April 5, 2007. The game sold a total of 23.60 million copies worldwide, making it the 3rd best-selling game for Nintendo DS (just behind Nintendogs (#2) & New Super Mario Bros. (#1)). It's also the 3rd best-selling title in the Mario Kart series, right behind Mario Kart Wii (#2) & Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (#1).

The game itself has a prototype which is the kiosk demo and the beta version of the game, itself.

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.

On April 23, 2015, Mario Kart DS became available for purchase for the Wii U's Virtual Console service via the Nintendo eShop. The Virtual Console version is only playable in single-player mode.


The leaderboard.

As in the previous games, the player can participate in a Grand Prix, each containing four tracks in which points are gained for the player's position at the end of the race. The player must come within the top three players at the end of the Grand Prix to win a trophy.

There are thirty-two tracks in Mario Kart DS. There are four sets of 'new' tracks, along with four sets of tracks which have appeared in previous titles in the Mario Kart series. Each set contains four tracks, and can be played entirely in Grand Prix mode. 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: SNES, which represents Super Mario Kart N64, which represents Mario Kart 64 GBA, which represents Mario Kart: Super Circuit GCN, which represents Mario Kart: Double Dash!! Starting with the following Mario Kart game, Mario Kart Wii, stages originating from Mario Kart DS were included as retro courses and were represented by the abbreviation "DS".

The game supports up to four players in multiplayer modes including Versus and Battle modes, as in Mario Kart Wii. Players can play against each other or in a team in both modes. It isn't possible to unlock trophies or any other awards in multiplayer mode.

The game also includes DS Download Play. This mode lets the person with the cartridge in his/her system compete with someone else not having the cartridge in their system. The person not having the cartridge also gets to play as Shy Guy with the color choice picked for that player.


Menu controls

  • +Control Pad - Highlight a tab in the specified direction.
  • Stylus/A Button - Select an option.
  • B Button - Back

Racing controls

The controls are not much different in this game than in other Mario Kart games.

  • +Control Pad - Move in the specified direction
  • A Button - Accelerate
  • B Button: Brake/Reverse
  • X Button/L Button: Use an item, if any
  • R Button: Hop/Drift
  • Y Button/Stylus: Change the map view (bottom screen)
  • Start: Pause the game
  • Select: Blow balloon (only in balloon battle)

Racing techniques

Power sliding

When coming to curves, power sliding is a way of making it through a curve quicker. The player must push the R button to drift so the kart may spark. The player must push the R button and the opposing direction the kart is going in. This allows the player to gain blue sparks coming from the kart. Holding a little longer results the blue sparks to turn orange so that the player can gain a speed boost, or when you start drifting, press both left and right directions on the D-Pad. This can also generate blue and orange sparks.

Rocket start

In the previous Mario Kart games in the series, the player has to press the A button immediately before the race in order to receive a boost. Though, this game has it different. When the number three or two appears on-screen, the player must hold the A button to go. Though, the first having to need the A button released at the number one to gain the boost. Then, a speed boost is given to the player. If not released or done too early, a cloud of smoke comes out of the back of the player's kart, thus a delay in starting the race, or holding the A button when the 2 fades out and before the 1 fades in and don't release it until the race starts.


When the player finds his/herself behind someone else, he/she can use a slipstream. As a kart goes forward, it breaks through the air that's usually stationary, and it relocates to the side of the kart, allowing the kart through. In the end, this action causes a slipstream, a V-shaped section where the air has already moved away. At the point of the V is the kart, and the section behind the kart is just where the air has moved.

Screen Display

There are things in the top and bottom screens that are displayed to show what goes on in the game and some additional extras.

  • Item Box Icon: This feature shows which item the player has obtained and is located at the top-left part of the top screen. Only one item at a time can be obtained, meaning the current item has to be used in order for another item to be put in the item box icon. When an item is obtained, the item box item spins like a roulette and picks out an item.
  • Team Box: This element is in multiplayer mode games and the Single Player Versus and Battle modes. It is not used elsewhere.
  • Lap Indicator: This indicator is shown at the top-right part of the top screen. It shows how many laps there are and also indicates the lap number the player is on. It blinks once a new lap is started. The top number shows the lap number the player is on while the bottom shows how many laps the player is on. The bottom nearly always says three. There is also the text "LAP" on the left side of the fraction-esque lap indicator.
  • Events Screen: The event screen is where the events of a battle, mission or a race is going on. It is seen in all the Single Player and Multiplayer mode options.
  • Position: The position indicates the placing order of the player ranging from first to eighth. It changes once the player gets ahead of kart(s).
  • Wi-Fi Box: This box appears in the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode in the game. It ranges from no bars to three bars. The more bars, the closer the internet connection is. This box is located on the bottom-right corner of the screen.
  • Character Positions: This feature displays the progress of the opponents (team members if applicable) and shows the items they're using, what place they're in and such. It is displayed at the entire left side of the bottom screen. If tabs switch, it means the opponent moved up a place. The names can be revealed once the minimap is viewed when the bottom screen layout is changed. In battles, it indicates the amounts of balloons or Shine Sprites one has.
  • Race Time: The race time indicates the amount of time used by the player in a race by minutes, seconds, and milliseconds. It is located at the top-right part of the bottom screen.
  • Map: The map shows an overview of the course and icons which indicate players and items. It moves when it is in motion. A minimap can be viewed when the bottom screen view is changed. The map is entirely located on the bottom screen, covering most of it.


Mario Kart DS has thirteen playable characters appearing in the game itself, one being an exclusive character to DS Download Play, making only twelve playable in general.



Unlocking Criteria

  • Dry Bones: Complete all 50cc cups in the Nitro category.
  • Princess Daisy: Complete all 50cc cups in the Retro category.
  • Waluigi: Complete all 100cc cups in the Retro category.
  • R.O.B.: Complete all Nitro or Retro 150cc Mirror cups.

DS Download Play-exclusive


As aforementioned, there are 32 tracks appearing in the game itself. Sixteen being Retro races from previous games in the Mario Kart series and sixteen others being new to the game itself. In Retro races, it goes from oldest retro course to newest retro course. Meaning to go from Super Mario Kart to Mario Kart 64 to Mario Kart: Super Circuit to Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.


Mushroom.png Fire Flower Artwork - New Super Mario Bros.png Starman.png Picture 7.png
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 Castle
Luigi's Mansion Shroom Ridge Airship Fortress Rainbow Road


Consoles Green Shell Artwork - Mario Kart Wii.png Banana (Mario Kart Wii).png Leaf Artwork - Mario Kart Wii.png Lightning Artwork - Mario Kart Wii.png
Shell Cup Banana Cup Leaf Cup Lightning Cup
Super Mario Circuit 1 Donut Plains 1 Koopa Beach 2 Choco Island 2
64 Moo Moo Farm Frappe Snowland Choco Mountain Banshee Boardwalk
Super Circuit Peach Circuit Bowser Castle 2 GBA Luigi Circuit Sky Garden
Double Dash!! GCN Luigi Circuit Baby Park Mushroom Bridge Yoshi Circuit

Battle Courses

Staff Ghosts

Course Time Character Kart
Figure-8 Circuit 01:36.481 Mario Standard MR
Yoshi Falls 00:57.677 Yoshi Egg 1
Cheep Cheep Beach 01:43.654 Donkey Kong Standard DK
Luigi's Mansion 01:59.357 Luigi Streamliner
Desert Hills 01:31.262 R.O.B. ROB-LGS
Delfino Square 01:53.921 Peach Royale
Waluigi Pinball 02:23.228 Waluigi Gold Mantis
Shroom Ridge 02:05.123 Toad Mushmellow
DK Pass 02:14.607 Donkey Kong Wildlife
Tick-Tock Clock 01:54.903 Daisy Light Dancer
Mario Circuit 01:56.533 Mario Shooting Star
Airship Fortress 02:07.748 Bowser Hurricane
Wario Stadium 02:14.868 Wario Brute
Peach Gardens 01:52.989 Peach Royale
Bowser's Castle 02:19.661 Bowser Hurricane
Rainbow Road 02:16.246 R.O.B. ROB-BLS
SNES Mario Circuit 1 00:50.688 Mario Standard MR
N64 Moo Moo Farm 01:17.751 Donkey Kong Wildlife
GBA Peach Circuit 01:12.011 Peach Royale
GCN Luigi Circuit 01:29.759 Luigi Poltergust 4000
SNES Donut Plains 1 01:08.027 Dry Bones Dry Bomber
N64 Frappe Snowland 02:08.781 Wario Brute
GBA Bowser Castle 2 01:52.258 Bowser Standard BW
GCN Baby Park 00:50.920 Toad Mushmellow
SNES Koopa Beach 2 00:54.847 Yoshi Egg 1
N64 Choco Mountain 02:15.571 Wario Dragonfly
GBA Luigi Circuit 01:46.581 Luigi Poltergust 4000
GCN Mushroom Bridge 01:30.600 Toad Mushmellow
SNES Choco Island 2 01:01.620 Waluigi Zipper
N64 Banshee Boardwalk 02:14.403 Dry Bones Dry Bomber
GBA Sky Garden 01:44.400 Daisy Power Flower
GCN Yoshi Circuit 01:48.793 Yoshi Standard YS


This game is the first and so far, the only game where there are missions included (not to be confused with the Mario Kart Wii tournaments). Missions mainly have the player having to complete a task within the time limit. This includes collecting Coins, driving through gates, destroying Item Boxes, etc. There is also a boss stage at the end of each mission set. In each level, there is eight missions total along with a boss stage. Most bosses return from Super Mario 64 DS. By getting at least a star ranking on all the missions level 1-6 allows Mission 7 levels to be unlocked.


Mario Kart DS is known to have well received reception and reviews from others. This includes GameRankings giving the game a rating of 91.19/100, GameStats as 9.2/10, 9.5/10 for IGN's rating. Though, most people have criticized the limited online multiplayer mode.


  • This and Mario Kart Tour are the only Mario Kart games where Lakitu does not appear at the start of the race.
  • Some of voice clips are reused from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! and Mario Superstar Baseball.
  • Some of voice clips are reused from Super Mario 64 and its remake Super Mario 64 DS.
  • In the Nintendo logo, Mario says "Yahoo!", on the original Nintendo DS, and he says, "Here we go!", on the Nintendo DS Lite, Nintendo DSi, Nintendo DSi XL, any Nintendo 3DS, or the Virtual Console.
  • This is the first game to take note of gaps in the course when it comes to the course map. Previous games such as Mario Kart: Double Dash!! disregarded the gaps in making the course map, which back then only showed the correct path.
  • Mario Kart DS became the 2nd Best-Selling Mario game for the Nintendo DS, right behind New Super Mario Bros. (Which is the Best-Selling game on the DS overall).


Title screens and screenshots






External Links