Mario Kart DS is the fifth game in the seminal kart racing series from Nintendo and the only Mario Kart game to appear on the DS. The game is an arcade style racer that emphasizes the use of ridiculous weapons to get ahead of opponents. Tactics such as using shortcuts, power sliding and boosting can be used to gain an advantage over opponents.
The player can race against up to seven other well known characters in the Mario universe such as the great plumber himself or his perpetual arch enemy Bowser, in environments taken directly from the platform games.
This DS iteration introduces several new game play features such as an adventure mode where players undertake missions to collect coins or defeat enemies; drafting; new weapons such as Bullet Bill and a refined power slide system. Most notably this is the first Mario Kart to be playable against other players online via the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
Grand Prix mode mirrors the Grand Prix mode seen in all previous games in the series. Players first choose from 3 classes they wish to race in–50cc, 100cc, or 150cc. Class determines the speed and aggressiveness of the enemy karts. The player can choose from eight characters with five unlockable characters becoming available as the game progresses. Each of the eight different cups consists of four races giving 32 tracks in total–16 brand new ones and 16 that have been taken from each of the four previous games. Depending on where a player finishes in a cup they will be given a rating of E, D, C, B, A or 1, 2, or 3 stars, with E being the worst and 3 stars the best. The action takes place on the top screen of the DS, whilst the bottom screen shows a map of the circuit and where each of the racers are. Touching the screen toggles between a map of the track and a close up of the player which also shows item boxes, course hazards and incoming weapon attacks.
Players start the first race of the cup at the back of the grid, but can launch themselves in to first place immediately by pressing the acceleration button at the right time during the Pre-Race Countdown for a rocket start. The player will want to pick up a power up pretty quickly by driving into a multi-colored item box which will give the driver a randomly selected item. When a player is in front these items are usually less powerful such as a banana skin that can be dropped behind for other cars to skid on or a green shell which is a projectile weapon which requires manual targeting. At the back of the pack players get more exciting weapons like an invincibility star which increases the speed of the kart or a red shell which is a projectile weapon that will home in on the car in front causing them to spin out. Racers at the back will also get to use the dreaded Blue Shell which seeks out the first position driver and takes them out.
Players can corner more effectively by power sliding around corners. Pressing one of the shoulder buttons when going around corners will put the kart to a skid and blue sparks will spit out the sides of the wheels. A player can then push left/right repeatedly on the d-pad which will make the sparks turn orange and the player will then get a small speed boost when they release the shoulder button. There are multi-colored strips scattered around each course that provide a further burst of speed when driven over. A new way a player can get a burst of speed is by drafting behind another player, after a few seconds blue lines will appear around the player which indicates a burst of speed and the player can power past the person in front–maybe barging them out the way as well if controlling one of the stronger characters like Bowser or Donkey Kong. After each race, there is a scoring distribution for the eight racers. The winner of the race gets ten points, second place gives the player 8 points, six for third, and so on. After all four races, the three best drivers with the highest scores will receive trophies at the award ceremony. Bronze for third place, silver for second place, and a gold trophy for the winner of the cup.
Players can race on any of the 32 tracks and post their best lap times and total times overall. Some tracks will give the player a certain amount of mushroom power ups that give a burst of speed when used. On the bottom screen there is the map which shows the racing line that a player takes through the course which allows the player to see how he took a corner of a previous lap. Up to 32 ghost characters of the fastest times (one for each track) can be saved and it's also possible to download ghost laps from friends. With a fast enough run, the player will unlock and compete against a staff ghost which is a ghost time of a member of Nintendo staff.
Players can select from any of the 32 courses and choose options such as class, computer difficulty, whether to race as part of a team and whether they want to race a certain amount of races or just race until a certain amount of wins are earned. During the race carts will have a tag attached to them showing an emblem.
This is the first Mario Kart that has a one player battle mode. There are two different modes:
In Balloon Attack, players square off against up to seven other computer controlled players in one of six arenas. Players try to burst opponents three balloons that are attached to their karts by collecting power ups and firing them into them or by ramming them when getting a burst of speed from a mushroom power up. Players start with only one balloon but can blow up four more balloons by blowing into the microphone on the DS or by holding down the select button if they want to be more discrete. The last man standing wins. This mode is also available in local ad hoc mode against up to seven other players using just one cartridge.
In Shine runners players compete against up to seven other computer controlled players in one of six arenas. Players try to collect the most shine sprites scattered throughout the level. They can steal sprites from opponents by hitting them with power up items or by bashing into them. Players with the least amount of shines are slowly eliminated after set periods of time until the last man is left standing (60 seconds for the first round, and 30 for subsequent rounds). This mode is also available in local ad hoc mode against up to seven other players using just one cartridge.
This is a brand new mode for the Mario Kart series. The mode consists of six different levels with a secret seven level unlockable on completion of the previous levels. Each level consists of eight different missions and a ninth boss mission. Players will take control of a specified character and kart and complete objectives such as collecting a certain amount of coins, drive through numbered gates in order, destroy item boxes or perform a certain number of power slides in a given number of laps. Players are rated according to how quickly they complete the tasks and similarly to the Grand Prix mode, are given a rating of E, D, C, B, A or 1, 2, or 3 stars, with E being the worst and 3 stars the best. When all missions of a level are completed, players will face off against a boss character which generally involves defeating a boss by firing projectiles at them or ramming them with a speed boost.
Players can compete against up to seven other players in local ad hoc mode in a series of races on all 32 tracks. They can also play either of the two battle modes. The game supports DS download play, so if only one of a group of DS owning friends has a copy of the game they can all still play against each other but with only a few of the circuits and characters available. If they all own a copy of the game, all of the tracks and karts are available to choose from. This is the first Mario Kart game that can be played against other people over the internet. The Nintendo friend code system is used to play against a friend online so friend codes are required.
Players can choose any of the karts and characters they have unlocked in the single player modes and 20 of the 32 tracks. They race against up to three other randomly selected players and track selection is made by a voting system. If each player chooses a different track to race on then the game makes a random selection from the four tracks voted for. Players can choose to play against people from all over the world or people from just their own continent. They can also choose to play against rivals, who are people with a similar win/loss record.
A projectile weapon that seeks out the racer in front of them and makes them spin out and slow down. Can be held behind the kart to protect against incoming projectiles.
Like the Red Shell but there are three at once that spin around the kart and can be fired individually. If an opponent barges into the shell shield they will spin out and slow down.
A projectile weapon that requires manual aiming and makes the target spin out and slow down. Can be held behind the kart to protect against incoming projectiles. Can also be fired behind by holding down on the D-pad while firing.
Like the Green shell but there are three at once that spin around the kart and can be fired individually. If an opponent barges into the shell shield they will spin out and slow down.
The Banana skin is dropped behind the player and lays on the track. If it is run over by another player it causes them to spin out and slow down. Can also be fired out in front by pressing up on the d-pad while firing.
Like the Banana skin but there are three at once that spin around the kart and can be dropped or fired individually.
Gives a temporary burst of speed.
Like the Mushroom but there are three that can be used individually.
A bomb that can be fired out in front and will explode on impact causing everyone in the impact zone to spin out. Can also be dropped behind.
Will seek out and destroy the person in first place. It will explode in a similar fashion to a bob-omb and cause the driver to spin out.
This item looks like an item block and anyone who drives into it will spin out and slow down.
This will give the player unlimited speed boosts within a short period of time. The player can keep boosting until the time runs out.
Turns the player into a large bullet for a small amount of time that moves on autopilot. If anyone is hit while in bullet form they will spin out and slow down.
This will cover opponents screen with a blotch of ink, making driving very difficult.
This causes cars that are ahead to shrink and reduce their speed. Small karts can be made to spin out by barging into them.
This makes the player invincible for a small amount of time. The players speed will increase and barging into other players will cause them to spin out and slow down.
Will cause the character to go invisible. This means that the player can drive through things on the road such as bananas and fake blocks. The ghost character ‘Boo’ will also steal items from other characters.
As of March 31 2016, it has sold 23.60 million copies worldwide.