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Mario Kart DS

Developer / Publisher: Nintendo
14 November 2005
Mario Kart DS - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.75 / 5.0
0.5
5.0
 
 
1,968 Ratings / 5 Reviews
#591 All-time
#24 for 2005
Mario Kart DS is the continuation of the long running racing game series that began on the Super Nintendo. It features 16 new tracks as well as 16 tracks from the previous 4 games, with each set split up into the Nitro and Retro Grand Prix respectively. Eight racers are initially available, each with two go-karts to choose from.
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Title
best DS game bruh you cant tell me otherwise
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parkerwastaken 2022-06-20T20:03:30Z
2022-06-20T20:03:30Z
5.0
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Iconic
Quite a fantastic game.
Honestly should be the highest rated game on the site honestly. It's a simple but very fun game.
It's the purest Mario Kart experience in the franchise, no gimmicks, yet manages to be perhaps the best Mario Kart game.
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BlazicGD 2021-08-09T23:21:02Z
2021-08-09T23:21:02Z
5.0
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I'll need to play Mario Kart Wii again to say for certain which game I prefer, but there's a very good chance that this is my favourite game in the Mario Kart franchise, and at the very least, it's certainly the most interesting of them to me. Not only does it have a variety of unique mechanics and ideas that make this have some of the most distinctive content in the series, but even the design of this feels considerably more unusual, all in all making for a game in the series that tends to be a bit divisive, yet largely beloved. With that said it’s not like this game is something completely outside the realms of one’s expectations either, it’s a Mario Kart game after all, so you’ll still get a lot of those core concepts you’d find in any of them here as well, just more interestingly executed in my opinion.

The balancing is really the most interesting aspect of this game to me, for a variety of reasons at that. The way in which Mario Kart DS attempts to balance the stats of the various karts is an especially interesting thing, due to the fact that they are very transformative in this game, making perfect balancing hard, yet is able to attempt to circumvent this in a rather unconventional way. The inclusion of an item stat at first seems like a bizarre and frankly awful idea at first, giving certain vehicles a better chance of pulling some of the more race defining items, essentially tying a stat to the great equaliser of these games, and yet, its implementation ends up working rather well. This is due to the way that while those vehicles with higher item stats tend to be weaker across the board, it’s balanced out by the fact that those who are newcomers to the game will still benefit far more from those higher chances of pulling a high quality item than getting those slightly higher kart stats. This works thanks to the lack of experience or skill from those lower end players resulting in being unable to fully capitalise on those higher stats regardless, making this a good way of providing them addition means of victory without compromising the balance for higher end players, due to the way that these people will get far more value out of those other higher stat values certain vehicles will provide instead. This approach to balancing manages to feel so interesting thanks to the way it reflects the way it feels as if the game’s developers had an incredibly clear idea of how people played these games, being able to make vehicles that were so dynamic in their quality depending on one’s skill level, rather than simply introducing things that were strictly better as time went on, or attempting to make the stat differences so negligible that they could practically be considered the same anyway.

This game also perfectly demonstrates the way that unintended strategies and mechanics are able to completely flip the script on attempting to level the playing field in a huge way. It’s interesting to see the way the metagame in theory works extremely cleanly, but then once players figured out how to snake, things got thrown out of balance. The way this technique requires the drift stat to be low ends up making it that certain vehicles that had this lowered to balance them ended up further boosting their viability, throwing things out of balance in a way that is extremely interesting due to the way that it primarily affects these higher end players and little else. While this is obviously unbalanced, it’s also quite an interesting thing to think about in the context of such a game, as this essentially raises the skill ceiling absurdly high, easily being the most technically demanding of the games in the series and ultimately being more replayable as a result of this potential to get so much better at this all. The whole snaking mechanic is also a double-edged sword however, as it definitely makes it less of a casual friendly game compared to what as intended, with that attempt at bridging the potential skill gap being completely thwarted by this, but in the context of going against CPUs it ends up making attempting to continuously refine how you drive that much more entertaining and provides a lot of depth to these races. Definitely comes off as a case of the lack of balancing actually serving to enhance a gaming experience in a lot of scenarios, and I can respect that for sure.

In terms of actual content in this game, it’s also quite a promising story, with a number of absolutely iconic courses being introduced here, such as Delfino Square and Waluigi Pinball especially being some displayed of visual creativity combined with effective design to make for some of the most fun and exciting moments in any kart racing game I’ve played making it absolutely no wonder why some consider this such a masterpiece. While there are a few weaker courses to be found, particularly with some very lacklustre retro ones, it’s not quite enough to take away from the amount of sheer inspiration that can be found in practically every new course. This is also where the map design peaked in the game’s battle modes, being the perfect balance between being too large to properly facilitate the hectic nature of the intended gaming experience and too small to feel as if you’re able to have much control at all. These maps almost all have some ways of circumventing incoming items, usually requiring just enough skill for it to not feel unreasonable for either the person who threw the item or the one that has to dodge it, making this just as valid a multiplayer experience as the main racing itself. This also has the beloved mission mode that I’ll forever be disappointed about it never being introduced in future games and expanded upon. I appreciate the way it essentially provides another way to utilise pre-existing assets in such a different way to breathe even more life into these courses. Sure, quite a few of these end up feeling a bit half-baked, but the idea is there, and I enjoyed a great deal of them as well for how it made me completely rethink how I had to approach some of these tracks. The boss fights in this are also a nice little bit of spectacle, as despite the fact that a lot of these felt rather simplistic from a mechanical standpoint, it doesn’t change the fact that it feels really cool to be put in these totally unique scenarios against enemies that are so much bigger and more powerful than you.

Overall, while it has its flaws and balancing issues, I still absolutely love this game and consider it to be the peak of the series in all likelihood. The courses are largely some of the best in the series, the different characters drive differently to the point where it really feels like they catered towards all different playstyles, the way you can snake brings a layer of technicality that gives the player so much more to learn in order to master the game, the additional pieces of content not seen in any other game here gives it so much identity, there’s so much here that’s just done right. While not the quintessential casual Mario Kart game, this is certainly one that’s most conducive to sinking quite a bit of time into just to further hone your skills, all while still feeling distinctly like a Mario Kart game. Fantastic stuff all around, definitely holds up for the most part even today, albeit with some pretty poor visuals in places.
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Kempokid 2021-06-26T09:04:02Z
2021-06-26T09:04:02Z
4.0
2
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Solid and well made
Apart from some Double Dash on the GameCube a long time ago I have never played a Mario Kart game. It has a very good reputation and I really enjoy racing games, so I was curious when I started playing. Right from the start it looks and feels polished and like a Mario game, so what you would expect.

The racing itself is smooth, tracks a very varied, you have enough characters and karts to choose from and the loot boxes give a varied amount of powers and weapons. So more than enough to get you hooked for a while. After a while however I started to notice that dispite all the differences some things are allmost allways the same.

In a single tournament it's always the same opponent that is placed first and all the opponents are spread apart pretty equally. This makes that the races all have the same flow to them. The hunt for the first place within the three laps that you have. This is the main reason I didn't finish the whole game, multiplayer which I did not play will probably these 'problems' for the most part because the good will stay and the effects of the bad will be lessened.

All in all still a good game which you can enjoy for a while.
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Handheld versions are often a large step back from their console counterparts. Mario Kart Super Circuit on the GBA was a good game in it's own right but was a huge step back from the N64 version. I think the DS had enough performance to capture the essence of Mario Kart, but it also took a step forward by providing the ability of online play.

There's plenty of familiar items such as the green shell, red shell, banana, Boo, lightning, Starman, and Mushroom in addition to new ones such as the Blooper which hinders other player's vision, or Bullet Bill which is a simple reinvention of the Chain Chomp from Double Dash. Using this item puts you in auto-pilot at rapid speed, pummelling any opponent in your way.

As usual, your position in a race determines the quality of the item that you receive. If you are struggling, you are awarded with quality items such as red shells, Bullet Bills, and Starman, while the leaders will be picking up bananas or green shells from item boxes. This formula aims to keep players closer together to ensure there's constant action, yet you need good driving skills to achieve victory on the higher difficulty modes.

Drifting allows you to navigate tricky corners, and by toggling the D-Pad left and right; you gain a turbo boost which triggers as you exit the drift. You can gain a significant boost by drafting (driving directly behind) opponents, although this can be risky if they have a weapon and throw it behind.

The course design is fantastic. The developer's have used the power of the DS to create interesting courses with good use of elevation (rather than the flat circuits seen on the SNES and GBA). The environments are varied and there's plenty of tricky corners that require skilful use of drifting and boosting.

On the bottom screen, you can see a map of the course which shows locations of item boxes, hazards and player positions. It's actually incredibly useful, and you can drive fairly well just by looking at that screen.

Another cool use of the touch-screen is the Emblem Editor which allows you to design your own logo to add to your kart and is shown to players when playing online.

For single player, you have the usual Grand Prix and Time Trial mode in addition to a new Mission mode. VS mode and Battle mode can also be played against computer controlled opponents, giving you plenty of options.

The Grand Prix has two categories. There's 16 new tracks split over 4 cups (Mushroom, Flower, Star, and Special), in addition to the Retro GP which remakes 16 classic tracks from previous games (SNES, N64, GameCube, and GBA iterations of Mario Kart) and these are also divided over 4 cups (Shell, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning). That means Mario Kart DS features 32 tracks over 4 difficulty modes: 50cc, 100cc, or 150cc and Mirror.

The Grand Prix mode is where you'll unlock karts and characters. Initially, eight characters are available, each having two unique karts. There are four additional characters to unlock, and everyone has an additional kart to unlock. Once everything is unlocked, then you are allowed to pair any character and kart together. Each character seems to have certain base traits (you aren't told what they are), but the bigger characters have more weight to them. Certain combinations seem terrible, so placing a heavy character in a small, light kart may not be a good idea; but it looks humorous. The kart's attributes are shown, with ratings for speed, acceleration, weight, handling, drift and items. Items dictate the availability of double/triple items such as shells/bananas/mushrooms. This is also used in Time Trial mode which gives you 1-3 mushrooms depending on your kart.

The Time Trial mode is a great way to learn the tracks and it's always fun to try and better your scores. You can race against your own 'ghost' times, a friend's (via wireless transfer) or a 'staff ghost' which often shows the use of shortcuts within the tracks. The staff ghosts are often at a high standard, so are enjoyable to race against.

Battle mode is primarily a multiplayer mode, but you can play against CPU controlled opponents too against 7 players. In the standard mode, players inflate balloons by blowing in the microphone, and these are used as lifes. You have five in total, and will lose one every time you are hit. The other mode is Shine Sprites which involves you collecting and stealing Shines from other competitors. The game plays Elimination style, so the player with the least amount of Shines at the end of a set time period is out, and the match continues until a winner is determined.

In VS mode, you can choose your engine class, opponent difficulty and track selection. This gives you the flexibility of making a cup that not only lasts longer than the usual Grand Prix mode, but offers a different selection of tracks.

The Mission mode gives you tasks such as to pass through numbered gates in order, follow racing lines, collect coins along the course, or use power-slides with boosts. Each group of missions ends with a boss battle which you take down by racing, hitting weak-points or ramming.

There's single-cart multiplayer but other players can only use Shy Guy. This character is not actually a selectable character, so it's the only way to play as him. If everyone has a copy of the game, then you get the full character selection. At the time of release, online play was a great option too, but the Nintendo Network is long-since dead.

Mario Kart DS is one of the best games on the DS and is a must own on the system. The game has stood the test of time and is very enjoyable to play well over a decade after release.
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CaptainClam 2017-09-29T22:54:31Z
2017-09-29T22:54:31Z
5.0
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Perhaps the highlight of the series. A lack of split-screen (obviously) is made up for by a surprising amount of content offered by download play to other DSes, making nothing lost in the switch in platforms. DS is also where the franchise would first see classic courses remade and re-introduced in newer titles, a great idea that both bolsters the value proposition and invites feelings of nostalgia while doing the obvious thing of including more courses. This entry also features a robust mission mode, testing different aspects of the Mario Kart skill suite and hiding oodles of unlockables, All up, it presents a total package that would never truly be represented again, something that makes no sense for games with consistent Nintendo budgets.
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Lowlander2 2017-08-25T19:58:51Z
2017-08-25T19:58:51Z
4.0
2
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Catalog

themusicofghost Mario Kart DS 2024-05-30T13:26:50Z
DS • XNA
2024-05-30T13:26:50Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Silexeo Mario Kart DS 2024-05-30T01:34:38Z
2024-05-30T01:34:38Z
3.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
cannedhamsters Mario Kart DS 2024-05-29T23:04:05Z
DS • XNA
2024-05-29T23:04:05Z
2.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
blobbb Mario Kart DS 2024-05-29T15:11:46Z
2024-05-29T15:11:46Z
A-
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
snazysnail Mario Kart DS 2024-05-29T14:03:59Z
2024-05-29T14:03:59Z
2
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
mechanicalhearts Mario Kart DS 2024-05-28T18:52:20Z
DS • XEU
2024-05-28T18:52:20Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sadgirl2023 Mario Kart DS 2024-05-28T17:48:26Z
DS • XNA
2024-05-28T17:48:26Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
craal Mario Kart DS 2024-05-27T03:52:01Z
2024-05-27T03:52:01Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
CloudStrife1984 Mario Kart DS 2024-05-25T10:48:47Z
DS • XEU
2024-05-25T10:48:47Z
78
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Racing
thatmusicguy Mario Kart DS 2024-05-24T16:33:23Z
2024-05-24T16:33:23Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
goeie_oko Mario Kart DS 2024-05-24T12:45:30Z
DS • XNA
2024-05-24T12:45:30Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dev. nintendo pub. nintendo franchise. mario
sadgirl2023 Mario Kart DS 2024-05-23T18:26:03Z
2024-05-23T18:26:03Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
ESRB: E
Player modes
1-8 players
Media
1x Game card
Multiplayer modes
Deathmatch / FFA, Team play
Multiplayer options
Local, Online
Franchises
Also known as
  • マリオカートDS
  • View all [1] Hide

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  • Previous comments (20) Loading...
  • Zephir 2022-12-16 00:29:07.085881+00
    my favourite Vehicular combat game
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  • Pumas 2023-03-05 21:17:11.133781+00
    I played the fuck out of this when I was a kid. Infinitely replayable game
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  • alxl 2023-05-16 21:42:05.012324+00
    the best mario kart till 8
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  • placentahj 2023-07-20 09:02:24.874477+00
    has ROB, so its automatically better than every other mario kart
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  • Drawdler 2023-10-15 15:43:14.716767+00
    Certified classic
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  • anderd0504 2023-11-14 21:39:29.285392+00
    don't think this is the best Mario Kart bc of weaker tracks and no tricking but mission mode + old drifting + character roster certainly makes it a contender
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  • ppepperonii 2023-12-08 16:28:50.599369+00
    i remember my friend showing me how to snake for the first time... i couldn't believe what i was seeing, especially after playing this game obsessively when i was younger. playing this with 8 people on download play in the same room is probably the most fun i'll ever have with any video game ever. so many good memories playing this on school trips.
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