In this series of articles we'll write about one or more Mario game per day, each representing a different year as part of our Super Mario 30th Anniversary celebrations.
2005 was a busy year in terms of Mario releases, with a whole host of options across portable and home console systems, all in the form of spin-offs or alternative franchises featuring the mascot. Looking over the available titles we decided that Mario Kart DS couldn't be ignored, as it was a vital game in the IP's history.
It was, of course, the first Mario Kart game to support online multiplayer. While that's the familiar norm nowadays, back in 2005 it was an outstanding addition; online gaming was increasing in popularity and, naturally, a prime multiplayer Nintendo experience was perfectly suited to it.
That prompted huge excitement, while also raising a gameplay controversy that would lead Nintendo to adjust mechanics in future entries. 'Snaking' had been around for a couple of entries, in which it was possible to create boosts while on a straight, but it was with the arrival of online multiplayer that obvious divisions emerged; for those unfamiliar with the technique it seemed unfair. As Nintendo's goal was to encourage players of all abilities to enjoy online matches, it's unsurprising that the technique was tackled in subsequent games.
Offline, though, Mario Kart DS is regarded by some as one of the finest games in the series, possibly the best. It delivered four retro cups (and therefore 16 extra tracks) which beefed up the content, and Battle mode could be taken on in single player. Mission Mode was full of quirky challenges, as another example, and one of a few features that sadly got fazed out in following entries.
Unfortunately the Mario Kart DS online play switched off in 2014 along with the general DS and Wii network, with the subsequent Wii U Virtual Console release being offline only. As one of the best-selling DS games and an excellent effort outright, though, its place in Mario Kart history is assured.
2005 also brought us Mario Kart Arcade GP, the first of multiple arcade units that are considered separately from the core karting series. Developed by Bandai Namco, Nintendo merely ensures these games are respectable representations of the IP. In general those that play the units comment on them being perfectly playable, but they're rarely praised heavily.
There are a few tweaks to gameplay, notably a lock-on option with items. In a feature that would pop up in Nintendo titles on hardware with a camera, the arcade also snaps a picture of each racer to go next to their profile in a race.
This arcade - and its follow-ups - were also the first to bring in non-Mario characters, in this case with Bandai Namco mascots. Eventually Mario Kart 8 broke the Mario routine, too, albeit with Nintendo properties as DLC.
Though Mario Kart DS is a classic that stands tall as an important game in the Mario Kart series, it's worth having a go on a Mario Kart Arcade unit if you see one; it has its own (unofficial) role in the series' history.
Please note that the following trailer is for the Mario Kart Arcade GP DX release.
I couldn't get the DS to work for online, it wouldn't accept the connection I had at the time so MKDS was purely a single player experience for me and I really enjoyed it. The mission mode made kept me playing for hours; the fact that missions haven't returned is crazy, it was one of the best things about MKDS.
As for the arcades, I've only played a couple in my life and they're fun too. Though I'd rather play the proper Mario Karts.
I remember playing MK DS online... with dial up. And that old USB adapter Nintendo sold. Somehow, it worked.
DS also had some of the more interesting character choices in any Mario Kart. ROB and Dry Bones come to mind. Nowadays it's all about those blasted Koopa Kids... and babies. And we're slowly getting "Metal" characters. A few are fine, but there are FAR better choices (I.e. other Mario allies/ enemies, characters from other IPs).
Mario kart ds was awesome better than super circuit with it's loose handling
Man, I loved MKDS. Fun fact: Dry Bones wasn't originally a character. It was originally going to be E. Gadd.
On another note, I really wish they'd release some of the arcade tracks as MK8 DLC.
Mario kart 8 character selection is a bit weak I don't really like the koopa kids all getting their own slot, DS was my first and always will be my favourite Mario kart
MKDS is my second favourite after MK7 Great memories with this game. Never played or even seen one of those Arcade cabinets though.
I played the gp arcade title and well it's pretty lame. You have to pay for every race even if you get first place. Also it's super sloppy in comparison to the ead made mario karts. drifting is also very cumbersome.
How I so wish the arcade games would just get put in the eshop, I never go to arcades anymore, but want to own these so bad.
I remember playing Mario Kart DS all the time when I was in middle school. Had a great time playing it with my friends.
After it was released on Wii U Virtual Console, I gave Mario Kart DS a try and after a few hours I must say that I am quite impressed by it: it's very easy to learn the controls which are quite responsive (and the game itself is smooth at 60 fps!), the combination of jumps and manually charged Mini-Turbo is interesting and probably is the best example of manually charged Mini-Turbos of the series, and along with them there are many welcome returning elements such as drafting and the ability of carry behind items to defend yourself and get 2 items at once. Mission mode is really fun, and I really like some missions, including fighting bosses! But it's the Nitro tracks which shines, with the return of a ghost track (finally!), that epic Airship Fortress, the Rainbow Road which predates Mario Kart 8 with antigravity sections and that Waluigi Pinball which is the most awesome idea for a track I've ever seen so far in the series.
So, yes, I am happy to be finally able to play this little gem, and I must say that really, this time its 30 fps videos on the internet don't do it justice!
P.S.: honestly I might be the only one, but after 25 years since their introduction I was VERY happy to finally being able to play in Mario Kart 8 as the Koopalings which are part of my childhood memories: my friend had a NES and a SNES and we played Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World A LOT! For me it's even more incredible if we think that Dry Bones, itself introduced with Super Mario Bros. 3, was a playable character since 9 years and that Bowser Jr., 1 year after Super Mario Sunshine, was already playable in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, to the point that when they were announced in Mario Kart 8 I was really puzzled because it was the last thing I was expecting!
Ah, MKDS, what a awesome game.
I was really excited to relieve the retro courses. The mission mode and a custom emblem was awesome.
@TheShiningAbsol It's not like that. E. Gadd was going to be added as a separate character, not Dry Bones. Some files and references to E. Gadd files are still found in the game.
I loved MKDS. The multi was phenomenal online and the controls were hands down the best from any MK game in my opinion. Wii,7 and 8 have all been good but, I can't help but feel like I'm glued to the track. In DS you could hop and bop all over the place with varying degrees of height to your jumps. It seems like there is some kind of gimped limit now.
Mario Kart DS has always been my favourite! It just felt faster to me than any of the the other Mario Kart's, plus it's Battle Mode was amazing. Nintendo should release the DS Battle Mode for Mario Kart 8 as DLC!
Probably my most played DS game. I remember in Primary School, pretty much everyone had the game, and on bus trips to camps we'd play it all they way XD I remember winning every single race because of my mastery at snaking. Wore down my d-pad to having a glossy surface, but eh. I have fond memories of MKDS
@SebCroc I have memories similar to that! Throughout elementary school all was played was MKDS and pokémon on the bus!That and designing my own emblem made this game iconic to me
My first MK game(I'm young ). This was what got me into the MK series in the first place. I preferred MK7 though, with it's shinier interfaces and custom karts.
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