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Mario Kart DS

by Karlie Yeung - October 13, 2005, 2:14 pm PDT

Nintendo reveals more multiplayer details, including online win-loss tracking and the limitations on single card play. Nintendo also confirms support for secure wireless connections.

Nintendo has released new Mario Kart DS information about online and local multiplayer games.

Using DS Download Play, up to eight gamers can choose among eight racing tacks and three battle fields in either Ballon Battle or Shine Thief modes. Those with DS cards may use custom player icons and any character; moochers are stuck Shy Guy and may not use custom icons. DS Download Play mode only supports the 100 cc engine class. Multi-Card Play supports all of the game’s features, including win/loss tracking, automated friend roster population (so buddies may find each other on Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection) and ghost trading.

When playing over the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, players may compete among registered friends, rivals (those with similar skill level), recent opponents, players within their region (e.g. the United States) or any player worldwide. As with Animal Crossing, online-only friends may add each other to their Mario Kart DS friend roster by trading unique Friend Registration Keys.

Nintendo’s description also confirms that players using a standard wireless network must “configure the DS to connect to their routers by entering the router's network ID and optional security key.” Wording suggests the system, and not the game, must be configured, but this is still unverified. Talk of a security key matches Buffalo Technology’s unofficial confirmation of WEP support. Support for the more secure WPA standard remains unclear.

Last updated: 05/19/2005 by Jonathan Metts

In our interview with Hideki Konno yesterday, the producer of Mario Kart DS gave us new details on the game's online mode and updates to the weapons and battle mode. He says the theme of the new Mario Kart is an expansion of the multiplayer and community aspects that the series is known for. The LAN mode is the ideal form of multiplayer, because up to eight players can compete (on a single game card), and the gameplay is locked in at sixty frames per second. The online WiFi mode supports four players, and the team is working very hard to achieve the same framerate as with LAN mode, but they aren't there yet. In a first for the Mario Kart series, players will be able to choose the same character simultaneously, so you can have a race of eight Marios. Individual players are still identifiable during the race, because the registered DS system name will be displayed above each player's character.

Mario Kart DS aims to be the biggest MK game yet, with over thirty courses and approximately half of those being brand new. The rest are courses ported from previous Mario Kart games, chosen for their nostalgic appeal. Battle mode is returning and is more or less the same as in past games, but the computer A.I. is being enhanced so that the mode will be fun even for a single player battling against bots. Additionally, Mr. Konno said the battle mode will probably be enabled for online play, as with the racing gameplay. Since all the karts in MKDS are built for just one character, there is no cooperative mode like the one found in the GameCube's Double Dash.

Although the game will be extremely familiar to fans of the series (don't expect any huge changes to the way it plays), Mr. Konno's team is looking at several ways to use the DS input features. The touch screen can be used to draw custom decals to decorate your favorite kart, and touch screen steering is being considered (though it would probably be optional, as the E3 demo is played entirely with the D-pad and buttons). As for weapons, the team would like to implement some new items that use the DS features, such as a balloon that is inflated by blowing into the microphone. By the way, we asked Konno-san about the feather item, and he said that he would keep it in mind.

Last updated: 11/14/2004 by Jon Lindemann

Since the days of the Super NES, Mario Kart has been one of the most popular series in the Mario catalog. The granddaddy of all mascot-racing franchises constantly tops charts with each new edition, and the Nintendo DS version looks to be no different. While it may look like a port of Mario Kart 64, Mario Kart DS is sure to take advantage of the system's unique capabilities to deliver new twists on the tried-and-true racing experience.

Details are scarce, but screenshots have given us at least an idea of what to expect. Playable characters include Mario, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Toad, Wario, Princess Peach, Yoshi and Luigi, with other characters sure to be unlockable. There's only one driver per kart, and all vehicles seem to be identical (unlike Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, in which characters traveled in pairs and had their own unique vehicles). The only discernable difference between karts is the letter on the hood - M for Mario, W for Wario, and so on.

Many classic Mario Kart level themes make a return, albeit in slightly redesigned forms. There's a Ghost House track, a DK Jungle track, and some sort of Princess' Castle track. One of the levels that has been revealed is the Yoshi-shaped track from Double Dash. There's also a level with 2-D hills in the distance, reminiscent of Super Mario World (this is likely a retooling of "Mario Circuit" from Super Mario Kart; thanks to Troy Davis for pointing this out - Jon).

Your view of these levels is a little different thanks to the dual screens of the DS. The behind-the-kart 3-D racing view is on the top screen, while the bottom screen displays a map of the track along with your race position, course time, and lap number. The bottom screen can also be switched to an overhead view of the race that shows each driver jockeying for position in real-time.

Controlling your kart seems to be done exclusively with the directional pad. There's nothing in the screenshots released so far that indicate use of the stylus. Old-school karters will be happy to know that the Powerslide returns in its Nintendo 64 form, meaning that a "hop" (likely done with a shoulder button) is required to get your character sliding into a turn. Hopefully, we'll be able to pull off speed boosts using this technique like in Mario Kart 64.

As always, items play a huge role in the racing action. Confirmed items include Bananas, Green Shells, Boost Mushrooms, and Invincibility Stars. Other classics such as Red Shells, Ghosts, Lightning, and Spiked Shells are sure to make an appearance as well. There'll be plenty of mayhem to go around.

The biggest addition to this version will undoubtedly be wireless multiplayer. While it hasn't been confirmed, the ability to play against at least three other people using the DS' wireless connectivity is a no-brainer. Launch title Super Mario 64 DS supports four-player action using only one game card, so it only stands to reason that Mario Kart DS will support a similar configuration. There appears to be eight karts to a race, so the ability to play seven other people isn't out of the question. This wireless connectivity should give Mario Kart DS an incredible amount of replay value.

There's no reason to believe that Mario Kart DS won't be an excellent title. It looks to feature all the great gameplay elements the series is known for, and the likely inclusion of wireless multiplayer is sure to make this one of the best games in the series. Mario Kart DS may very well be Mario's best race yet.

Last updated: 05/11/2004

Mario Kart is an obvious contender for the dual screens, with the top screen for racing and the lower for maps and racing statistics. The level shown on video was Yoshi’s Circuit from Double Dash with upgraded graphics. The video had no background music but there were some sound effects present such as the engines revving as the karts drove around. There was the item box onscreen but no weapons were fired.

The lower screen showed a leader board on the left hand side with the characters switching places as they did so in the race and the rest of the screen had a map outline, for this level in the shape of Yoshi.

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Mario Kart DS Box Art

Genre Racing
Developer Nintendo
Players1 - 8
Online1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Mario Kart DS
Release Nov 14, 2005
jpn: Mario Kart DS
Release Dec 08, 2005
RatingAll Ages
eu: Mario Kart DS
Release Nov 25, 2005
aus: Mario Kart DS
Release Nov 17, 2005

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