Universal acclaim - based on 64 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 63 out of 64
  2. Negative: 0 out of 64
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  1. 100
    The online shortcomings are annoying, yes, but very minor, and they are more than made up for by the amazing single-player content and local WiFi gameplay.
  2. The best features of past Mario Kart games are back, and when combined with the new ones in Mario Kart DS, the end result is the most impressive game to ever hit the Nintendo DS and also the best game in the Mario Kart series.
  3. 100
    The sheer number of options make this game outstanding.
  4. The game’s graphics are silky smooth and the track designs are fantastic.
  5. 100
    Mario Kart DS shatters those expectations by being the best kart racing game ever released--handheld or otherwise.
  6. AceGamez
    One of the most exciting racing experiences for the DS so far and it's a game that will be played long into the future of Nintendo's latest handheld.
  7. Super Mario Kart is still the best Mario Kart ever, but Mario Kart DS is remarkably close to edging past the original in almost every way.
  8. 100
    A must have game for the Nintendo DS and is possibly even good enough to make you go and buy a DS unit for it.
  9. 100
    Mario Kart DS takes the best of all of the Mario Kart games and puts them together in a game people will still be playing when the next generation of Gameboy comes out.
  10. Undoubtedly the best game in the Mario Kart series, which considering the MK legacy is quite an achievement.
  11. We cannot emphasize this enough – if it’s not on your Christmas list, there’s still time. If you don’t get it from Christmas, don’t worry – just buy it your frigging self. If there were ever a game that was worth buying a console purely to play, this is it.
  12. Reason alone to own the DS platform. All of the fun that has been intrinsic to the series is intact, and the much-anticipated online component simply seals the deal. This is best game in the series by far, and perhaps the best kart-style racing game ever to come along.
  13. 95
    It's hard to imagine how Nintendo's going to improve on what they've done for this stunning portable rendition. There's so much gameplay and depth in this design, moreso than the series has ever had in the past.
  14. The depth of what appears to be an initially incredible simple and one dimensional game is astounding as always with Mario Kart DS, and the delivered promise of online opponents only adds to the overall incredibly rewarding experience.
  15. 95
    The embodiment of pure kart racing goodness, an almost faultless paradigm that is undeniably the finest kart racing game created to date.
  16. It is darn near perfect in most ways, and the online mode adds more than it takes away. LAN mode racing is among the year’s greatest gaming experiences. You may well be looking at a contender for game of the year across any platform.
  17. Play Magazine
    Probably the best Mario Kart game since the original. [Dec 2005, p.75]
  18. One addictive game. With a great single player experience this game gets bonus marks for a great multiplayer experience as well.
  19. 95
    With a deeper single player mode, great LAN capabilities and free online play, it will offer hours of enjoyment for you, and your mates.
  20. Lives up to its legacy of having inventive courses, stellar multiplayer, and more replay value than any other racer in its class.
  21. The best DS game to date. It is like having the best from every Mario Kart game and bundled into one great package.
  22. In an age of increasing style over substance and companies trying to extract cash from gamers left, right and centre for new "services", it’s truly heartening to see a game done absolutely right, and the setup around it also done absolutely right. Great stuff, Nintendo.
  23. While it may take some time to get used to the new controls, after getting this down you should have as much fun with the single player content as any other Mario Kart title, if not more.
  24. Mario Kart DS represents a significant step forward for Nintendo's much-loved racing series, and not only because it's the first to feature online play.
  25. If you have the ability to use the WFC and own a DS, I can’t stop recommending purchasing MKDS.
  26. Never before has Mario Kart offered so much content, that's so easily accessible and can be enjoyed by so many people. [GamesMaster]
  27. If you own a DS, you need to own Mario Kart DS. This is the kind of game you shouldn’t have to give a score too. Just go out and buy it.
  28. The gameplay is rock solid, the replay value is very high, and graphics and sound are very sharp and detailed.
  29. It goes the distance with its plentiful single-player content, provides intelligent, affordable local multiplayer and actually lets you race online.
  30. The “killer-app” for the DS. With it's finely tuned gameplay and insanely high production value, this title will make a worthy addition to any DS library.
  31. 90
    Everything about MKDS comes together into a surprisingly compelling package, a portable racing game on par with anything ever to appear on a console.
  32. 90
    From the creative track design to the expertly balanced difficulty levels, nearly everything about Mario Kart DS screams quality.
  33. 90
    With a veritable buffet of racers, courses, modes, and multiplayer options, Mario Kart DS is a must play for any Nintendo fan and a requisite for any DS owner.
  34. A gift from the Nintendo Gods. [CCC's "original review was removed due to what [they] consider to be trolling and erroneous information."]
  35. Away from the online Mario Kart DS is the biggest game in the series with a huge range of new and classic tracks, battle mode and all-new missions to conquer.
  36. 90
    Mario Kart at its absolute finest. Miss it at your peril.
  37. Nintendo Power
    Mario Kart DS will be in your DS for a long, long time. [Jan 2006, p.104]
  38. The beauty of Mario Kart DS is that it's really, genuinely practical to play with other people, wirelessly or online.
  39. Sure it might not be the best looking version (although it's damn pretty and make no mistake) and, okay, certain modes have been done better before, but it's hands-down the absolute most complete Mario Kart package yet.
  40. 90
    A downside: there is no way to communicate with your opponents in game or in the lobby, so you can’t really get a gauge for who you’re playing, which can lead to the looser disconnects that everyone loves so much.
  41. I’m not giving this game the full score because of the little WiFi errors I experienced and the availability of only one online mode. But don’t get me wrong. Apart from this, Mario Kart is one hell of a game. It’s the best Mario Kart of all-time and an essential DS purchase. You shouldn’t be allowed to own a DS without it.
  42. Four-player online races are smooth and fiercely competitive.
  43. 90
    MKDS is a classic reminder that Nintendo created the character-based racer and is still leagues ahead of competitors when making them.
  44. The graphics are phenomenal, some of the best so far for the handheld system. The controls in the game are simple enough for anyone to jump right into, and the variety of gameplay will keep most players coming back for more.
  45. Regardless of whether one is playing the game alone, or online with a few other people there is a ton of fun to be had with this game, and it should be in every DS owner’s library.
  46. 90
    The brilliant title that we've all been waiting for, making the DS that extra mile more appealing and helping seal my growing contempt for the PSP even though I'm not in the least bit a "fanboy".
  47. Pelit (Finland)
    A really fun driving game with lots of tracks and things to do. A fine example of Nintendo quality. [Jan 2006]
  48. It’s pretty clear this is a test lap for Nintendo, and once the kinks are worked out you'll see more gamers gearing up for a race through the Mushroom Kingdom.
  49. It is refreshing to see the DS stand up and do some things that can't be done on the GBA, allowing it to stand out as its own system rather than being used to play GBA titles on.
  50. With a flawed, yet fun, online mode, a great deal of single player modes, and enough courses to choke a horse, Mario Kart DS is almost infinitely replayable.
  51. Online Mario Kart has one fatal flaw--you'll have to accept that you aren't actually the world's greatest Kart player. And even if you are the world's greatest, you can't rub it in, what with no chat options.
  52. Game Informer
    While I'd love to see this series move forward, this title is an excellent tribute to [its] heritage. [Dec 2005, p.187]
  53. A classic Nintendo racing game cocktail with a twist of Wi-Fi.
  54. 85
    The game looks terrific on the tiny screens. There's a nice mix of new and old school tracks. Making a Wi-fi connection is so simple, even Diddy Kong could do it (and he's Canadian!).
  55. Mario Kart DS is as good as ever and now you have the bonus of being able to play online. Pure brilliance, keep the Mario Kart games coming.
  56. 80
    Loaded with goodies and irresistible to resist, Mario Kart DS is fun in its purest form.
  57. Edge Magazine
    Instantly familiar, and instantly entertaining, Nintendo could hardly have picked a better title for its wi-fi debut. [Christmas 2005, p.106]
  58. A general mish-mash of the best bits of Mario Kart combined with a slew of new features in one overwhelmingly complete title.
  59. Computer Games Magazine
    For any fan of racing and/or handheld games, this is a perfectly laidback combination of user friendly racing and noncommittal handheld gaming. [Mar 2006, p.93]
  60. People who want a light hearted racing game will love MarioKart DS. The more hardened racing fan may think it is too simple, but MarioKart DS makes up for this with its entertaining game play and different game modes.
  61. The wireless capability of the handheld DS machine is a good thing. And I had fun when I was able to complete races, even when I placed dead last.
  62. But what about all those who can't get online? Sadly you're out of luck, because the single player is fairly repetitive and the cheap computer players don't help it.
  63. netjak
    While it has some ups and downs, Mario Kart DS proves that Nintendo is coming online with a vengeance. Gear up, strap in, log on, and take off. It's gonna be one heck of a ride.
  64. games(TM)
    Mario Kart DS is a polishing of the Mario Kart concept and little else. [Christmas 2005, p.99]

Awards & Rankings

#1 Most Discussed DS Game of 2005
#1 Most Shared DS Game of 2005
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 829 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 33 out of 829
  1. Sep 24, 2010
    No question, one of the best video games I've ever played. I've played this game for nearly 5 years, and I'm still hooked on Mario Kart DS. I love it!
  2. Apr 24, 2011
    One Of The Best Games Ever Made! Great Great Great! I Was So Shocked How Much I Loved It!
  3. MichaelR.
    Oct 25, 2008
    One word: over-rated. Reading that, you might be wondering why I gave it an 8. Simply put, this is a solid title, and certainly the best game One word: over-rated. Reading that, you might be wondering why I gave it an 8. Simply put, this is a solid title, and certainly the best game in the Mario Kart series, but it simply does not live up to the hype surrounding it. What you have in this title is a simplistic, cute, and engaging racing game. Nothing more, nothing less. There are a number of options, but most do not add anything of substance to the title (the exception is the terrific missions mode, which adds some challenge to this title). This is a fun game that will entertain almost anyone (young and old, racing fans and non-racing fans alike; I personally hate racing games; but this is more skin to Wacky Racers than it is Nascar or Gran Turismo: it has a goofy sense of fun that makes it a joy to play), But do not approach this expecting the greatest title on the DS. At least in my opinion, it isn't. But it is a fun and simple game that has infinite replayability. Full Review »