Nintendo of Europe got a chance to talk Hideo Konno about the game, and some new information was uncovered.
Konno is the Mario Kart expert around Nintendo, having been a major part of all the Kart games, producing the SNES and N64 games, and supervising the GBA game. With Mario Kart DS coming out in a few months, Nintendo of Europe decided to ask him a thing or two about the game.
Items in Mario Kart have always been a critical factor in how a race would be played out, and the new DS version will have new items, some specifically tailored to the dual-screen setup. For instance, Blooper the squid is a new item in the game, and when someone hits it, ink will cover the top screen and blind the player. However, they can still see where they are on the bottom screen's track map, so they can navigate that way until the ink goes away.
It's been confirmed for a while that the game will feature 16 of the best tracks from previous Mario Kart games, and 16 brand-new tracks for the DS version. The hardware allows for elevation changes in the track design (not unlike Mario Kart 64), so Konno says they'll create tracks that take advantage of that. One new track that he did hint at is set inside of a pinball table, where players need to avoid the bumpers, fippers and the giant pinball as they race around the course.
One last point made by Konno is that the mulitplayer modes will allow for just a single player to particpate in them. That is, someone could play Battle mode or Versus mode alone, with computer-controlled karts acting as opponents. That would mark a first for the Mario Kart series, since in every game before, human opponents were required to battle it out. Now players can practice their skills alone before meeting up with friends.
Mario Kart DS is shaping up to be the best Mario Kart game ever. We'll know for sure when the game is released sometime before the end of the year.
Robert Graves contributed to this report.