Mario Kart Series Retrospective – Part 2


We’re back with part 2 of our Mario Kart series retrospective! This part kicks off with the second handheld game in the series, Mario Kart DS!

Mario Kart DS (DS, 2005)

Mario Kart DS was another step in a new direction for the franchise as it included online play for the very first time. Another interesting decision was the inclusion of missions in yet another series first. In my opinion, it was the first step to getting Mario Kart to where it is today.

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Game Modes

Mario Kart DS is pretty much the same as its predecessors except for the fact that it now includes missions as a game mode. Some of these missions include driving through gates, collecting coins, driving backward, and even boss battles. It was a strange addition to the Mario Kart franchise and one that was never seen again. It did help to add some replayability to the game.

The online modes had a lot of problems with players disconnecting and still being credited with wins. There was Wi-Fi multiplayer, multi-cart multiplayer, and single-cart multiplayer which allowed for up to 8 players connected locally. It was the first step towards the Mario Kart multiplayer we see today.

Balloon Battle returns along with Shine Runners which was a mode where you have to capture as many of the 9 shine sprites as you can. it was a precursor to Coin Runners in later games.

  • Mario GP (1 Player) (50cc, 100cc, 150cc, Mirror)
  • Time Trial (1 Player)
  • Vs. (2-8 Players)
  • Battle (1-4 Players)
  • Missions (1 Player)


Mario Kart DS kept the character roster fairly low at 12 regular characters. They also included Shy Guy who takes the place of Yoshi from Super Circuit as the only character you can use in multiplayer with one cartridge. 

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Default Racers

  • Mario (Medium)
  • Luigi (Medium)
  • Peach (Light)
  • Toad (Light)
  • Yoshi (Light)
  • Bowser (Heavy)
  • Donkey Kong (Heavy)
  • Wario (Heavy)

Unlockable Racers

  • Daisy (Medium)
  • Dry Bones (Light)
  • Waluigi (Medium)
  • R.O.B. (Heavy)

Download Play Racers

  • Shy Guy (Light)


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Nitro tracks

Figure-8 CircuitDesert HillsDK PassWario StadiumNintendo DS
Yoshi FallsDelfino SquareTick Tock ClockPeach GardensTwilight House
Cheep Cheep BeachWaluigi PinballMario CircuitBowser’s CastlePalm Shore
Luigi’s MansionShroom RidgeAirship FortressRainbow RoadTart Top

Retro tracks

SNES Mario Circuit 1 SNES Donut Plains 1 SNES Koopa Beach 2 SNES Choco Island 2N/A
N64 Moo Moo Farm N64 Frappe Snowland N64 Choco Mountain N64 Banshee Boardwalk N64 Block Fort
GBA Peach Circuit GBA Bowser Castle 2 GBA Luigi Circuit GBA Sky GardenN/A
GCN Luigi Circuit GCN Baby Park GCN Mushroom Bridge GCN Yoshi Circuit GCN Pipe Plaza

There are 37 karts in total that are included in the game with 3 for each character besides Shy Guy (he only has 1).

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Blooper and Bullet Bill are the only new items in this version and have since become staples of the franchise. Blooper sprays oil on your screen while Bullet Bill boosts you ahead of the pack spinning out everyone in your way.

  1. Banana Peel
  2. Triple Banana
  3. Green Shell
  4. Triple Green Shell
  5. Red Shell
  6. Triple Red Shell
  7. Spiny Shell
  8. Fake Item Box
  9. Star
  10. Lightning
  11. Boo
  12. Blooper (New)
  13. Bullet Bill (New)
  14. Mushroom
  15. Triple Mushroom
  16. Golden Mushroom
  17. Bob-omb

Mario Kart DS is widely considered one of the best Mario Kart games of all-time. It’s easy to see why. This game was straight up kart racing and allowed you to use whatever character and kart that you wanted. There were many different combinations of karts and characters that you could use that would give you a different style of driving.

It led into my favourite version of Mario Kart on the next page, Mario Kart Wii!