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The sequel to Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Mario Kart DS is a racing game for the Nintendo DS, released in 2005. It is the second handheld Mario Kart game following Mario Kart: Super Circuit. It introduced online multiplayer features via Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. This game features a mission mode and introduces two new items in the form of Bullet Bill (capable of turning the user into said mook going maximum throttle on autopilot) and Blooper (capable of blocking opponents' views with black ink), as well as the ability to play Versus and Battle modes in single-player. Plus, the "two characters per kart" feature from Double Dash!! has been dropped, returning it to one driver per vehicle system as with every installment before Double Dash!!.


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The game features examples of these tropes:

  • Accordion to Most Sailors: Delfino Square, a Port Town track, features an accordion in the instrumentation of its music.
  • Advanced Movement Technique: "Snaking", as the game community calls it, involves drifting back and forth on a straightaway, gaining mini-turbos every time the R button is released. A low drift stat will prevent a kart from just slamming into the wall, and a high mini-turbo stat on a vehicle like the Dry Bomber means a skilled player can spend an entire race with boosted speed.
  • Always Night
    • Luigi's Mansion, which returned in Mario Kart 7.
    • Wario Stadium, which has been set in the daytime when it reappeared in Mario Kart 8.
    • Frappe Snowland and Banshee Boardwalk from Mario Kart 64.
  • Artificial Brilliance: In this game's Rainbow Road, the AI actually seems to know that if it puts a banana peel or fake item box on the loop-the-loop or the corkscrew, there's no chance to survive.
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  • Artistic License – Physics: If it weren't bound to the Toon Physics of the Mushroom Kingdom, the ROB-LGS kart (the one that looks like a pair of legs for ROB) would be as aerodynamic as a brick, and would most likely fall over at the slightest provocation. Instead, it's one of the fastest karts in the game, and always lands on its wheels.
  • Ascended Extra: Shy Guy was promoted from a character used only in this game's Download Play Mode to a fully-playable character in Mario Kart 7 and 8. Wiggler was originally one of this game's bosses and has been an obstacle on Maple Treeway in Mario Kart Wii before he finally shrunk down and become playable in Mario Kart 7.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Among the racetracks, there's Luigi's Mansion, whose first half takes place inside the eponymous building, taking drivers across haunted corridors based on the halls of the 2001 game's setting; the second half takes drivers to the outdoors areas in the gloomy forest, overlapping with The Lost Woods. Among battle courses, there's Twilight House, an abandoned manor with several rooms played during a dark sunset.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The Shroom Ridge track in the game's kiosk prototype contains trucks with the word "flesh" (fresh) labeled on the side. This was fixed for the final version, where they now properly say "fresh".
  • Build Like an Egyptian: Desert Hills, a racetrack in the desert that features the pyramids seen in Desert Land from Super Mario Bros. 3.
  • Camera Abuse: This and later installments of the Mario Kart series have the Blooper item, which squirts ink all over the screen and makes it hard to see the track.
  • Car Fu: The battle modes as usual. Boss battles in this game also qualify.
  • Chest Insignia:
  • Clockworks Area: Tick Tock Clock, a location that originally debuted in Super Mario 64 as a platformer level. The drivers will pass through giant clocks in the floors whose hands move step-by-step, enormous rotating cogs that can be used to boost one's speed, and a large pendulum that can potentially cause inconveniences due to oscillating in the middle of a segment of the track.
  • Competitive Balance: Every racer starts with two vehicles then gains a third. All three can be classified as items, skill and standard: items (the ones with big tires) are heavier and can hold more items, skills (the ones with small tires) are better in every other stat but lighter and hold less items, and the standard makes a compromise between both with a standardized weight.
  • Console Cameo: One of the battle courses take place on a huge Nintendo DS system floating in space.
  • Cool Bike: Waluigi's Zipper is the only motorcycle of this game. However, Wii and 8 has a full dosage on that type of vehicle.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Did you get used to using the snaking technique in this game? It doesn't work in the later games and for some that were used to snaking all the time, they were left wondering why they slid off the road or weren't going any faster.
  • Death as Game Mechanic: Dying early while playing multiplayer Ballon fight or the shine runners results in your character turning into a ghost until the end of the battle. The ghost can't interact with the alive players, but they can summon item boxes and get a dose on revenge by purposely putting them near fake boxes
  • Demoted to Extra: Baby Park returned from Double Dash!! despite no baby characters being playable.
  • Dub Name Change: In the Japanese version of the game, ROB was named HVC-012, since that was his series number.
  • Dump Stat: Drift and weight can be affected by this trope. Due to the exploit of snaking, it was actually beneficial to have less drift, since if you had more, you'd be turning too sharply while power sliding on straightaways. The same is said for weight since it's combined with the "offroad" stat. The less weight you had, the faster you could go off road such as in grass or dirt. Plus, bumping into other players had no effect online. The item stat was also pretty useless, especially online where you couldn't get triple items. It was good for some courses during time trials though, as you got more mushrooms to take shortcuts.
  • Embedded Precursor: The Retro Grand Prix, which is a recurring tradition from this game onwards. Besides the four Nitro cups (Mushroom, Flower, Star, and Special) are the four Retro cups (Shell, Banana, Leaf, and Lightning). In DS, each retro cup features a Super Mario Kart track, a Mario Kart 64 track, a Mario Kart: Super Circuit track, and ending with a Mario Kart: Double Dash!! track in that order.
  • Eternal Engine: Tick Tock Clock, which returned in 8. True to its Clockworks Area setting, it features all sorts of gizmos and mechanical setpieces that, depending on the case, can be either an ally or a hindrance to the drivers.
  • Final Boss: Chief Chilly in Mission Mode, being the boss of the sixth page of challenges. Although he's The Dragon to the Wiggler himself.
  • Fragile Speedster:
    • Regarding characters, Peach, Yoshi, Toad and Dry Bones are the Mario Kart definition: they share a strong acceleration and handling at the cost of a light weight and low to average top speed.
    • Regarding vehicles, skill karts combine the series definition with a traditional one compared to the others: they are lighter and hold less items, but reach higher top speeds, gain better boosts and are more controllable.
    • Luigi's skill kart, the Poltergust 4000, could have its place in Mario Kart 64, considering it combines great acceleration, handling and top speed with a low drift stat to abuse snaking and a lightweight to cross offroad like no one's business.
    • Other skill vehicles follow Mario Kart's "quick to start, hard to catch up" definition: Yoshi's skill kart, the Egg 1, has less top speed than the above and is the lightest, but benefits a better acceleration and handling. Dry Bones' skill kart, the Dry Bomber, despite its less light weight and worse top speed, is the most extreme example because of its maximum acceleration and handling stats.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The game can be completely frozen simply by holding A and B together and turning on the steps of the Luigi's Mansion track.
  • Go for the Eye: Eyerok, a boss from Super Mario 64 with eyes in its hands, have to be hit in them. Like in the 1996 game, you can't damage the eyes unless they're open.
  • Guest Fighter: Mario Kart DS is the only game in the series where R.O.B. appears (he later emigrated to the Super Smash Bros. series).
  • Hedge Maze: A part of Peach Garden in Special Cup has the drivers traverse a small hedge maze, though it's not too difficult to tackle (it's only hard to dodge the nearby Chain Chomp).
  • Home Stage: Many tracks, both old and new, are owned (or at least sponsored) by playable characters, so the game associates said tracks with them in some way: Yoshi has Yoshi Falls (new) and GCN Yoshi Circuit (retro), Luigi has Luigi's Mansion (new) and GCN Luigi Circuit (retro), Waluigi has Waluigi Pinball, Shroom Ridge is usually associated with Toad, DK has DK Pass, Wario has Wario Stadium (a new one, not the track that appeared in Mario Kart 64), Peach has Peach's Gardens (new) and GBA Peach Circuit (retro), and both Mario and Bowser have not only a new track each like usual but the former has also his first track from Super Mario Kart and the latter has his second track from Mario Kart: Super Circuit.
  • Interface Screw: Blooper, the Mario-universe squid, has been an item since this game, covering your opponents' screens in black ink, obscuring their forward view (this is also visible by painting the entire vehicle/driver black). It even has an effect on the AI, causing them to swerve and slow down a notch when it's in effect. The ink can be removed early by hitting a booster while it's in effect. There's also the cake frosting when you bump into giant whipped toppings at Tart Top.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: In addition to having the classic Super Star, the game also introduces the Bullet Bill, which not only increases speed (more so than the Super S Tar) and grants invulnerability, but also guides the vehicle via auto pilot.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats:
    • Every character has a standard vehicle with a standardized weight and whose stats are a compromise between balance and the character's strength and weaknesses. Because Mario's standard kart is looking for the perfect balance, his stats being the closest to the middle, he provides the main page image.
    • Among all 36 karts available in the game, Mario's karts' stats are the most balanced. The other middleweights make the difference on other criteria: Luigi is balanced at a more advanced level, his strong areas being top speed, handling and acceleration, while its weak stats are weight and drift, which are nearly useless when you want to cross offroad and spam drifts on straight lines. Waluigi is on the heavy side, sharing Luigi's top speed on heavier but less nervous vehicles. Daisy's strong area is drift, which like stated above, actually is a handicap at a more advanced level.
  • Japanese Ranguage: The Cheep Cheep trucks prominently displayed the word "FLESH" in the kiosk demo, which was thankfully changed to "FRESH" in the final game, though this misspelling can still be seen in the final game's GCN Mushroom Bridge icon.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: The only one here is Toad, like he did in the first three Mario Kart games.
  • Level Ate: The game has the battle level Tart Top which, true to its name, is a level set on the top of a tart. Complete with strawberry cream puffs, cherries and love hearts as decoration.
  • Level in Reverse: In addition to featuring Mirror Mode like most games in the series, the game also features challenges in Mission Mode where the player has to go through a non-mirrored racetrack backwards.
  • Level in the Clouds: Sky Garden, returning from Super Circuit. Like before, it's part of the Lightning Cup, and is a racetrack made of a cobble road suspended in the sky, bridges made of vine wires, and clouds that outline it. Large beanstalks can be seen in the background.
  • Level-Map Display: Look at the bottom screen.
  • Lighthouse Point: The Mushroom Cup track Cheep Cheep Beach features a lighthouse, though it's largely for decoration's sake because you can't enter it.
  • Lightning Bruiser: All three ROB karts can count considering they share the best top speed, a heavyweight, a good handling, a decent acceleration and a low drift. The best example remains ROB-BLS who actually has the best top speed to acceleration ratio in the whole game.
  • Limited Animation: Only your character is with full animations while everyone else on your screen are stiff (and they're even rendered with less polygons to boot). This was most likely done to prevent the system from being taxed and keep things running smoothly. This strategy was repeated in 7.
  • Logo Joke: The game has the sound of an engine revving and Mario saying either "Yahoo!", if you're playing on a classic DS model; or "Here we go!", if you're playing on anything DS Lite or later.
  • The Lost Woods: Luigi's Mansion mixes it with Big Boo's Haunt: The parts of the track that don't go through the eponymous mansion do go through the haunted, gloomy forest where it is located, complete with slippery mud that makes driving harder. The course returns in Mario Kart 7 as a retro track.
  • Marathon Level: Waluigi Pinball in Flower Cup is the longest track in the entire game. However, the track itself is fairly straightforward to complete.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • For the traditional definition, the items vehicles are these compared to the others: they are larger, heavier and can hold more items, but are worse in every other category.
    • For the Mario Kart definition, Bowser's vehicles are the heaviest, have the best top speed and good drift stats, but are also the hardest to control otherwise and endure the worst acceleration. While more balanced, Donkey Kong will focus on drift while Wario will focus on top speed and handling. Even if he's a middleweight, Waluigi comes close to this trope, his main strenghts being top speed and weight and his main weakness being acceleration.
  • Musical Nod:
    • This game's title theme contains part of that from Double Dash!!. Wii did the same thing DS did before.
    • The game's Bowser Castle had an Ominous Pipe Organ like the one Double Dash!! Bowser's Castle had.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The Mario Circuit of this game isn't the only Mario Circuit to be part of the Star Cup. Remember Mario Circuit 4?
    • Before it became the third course of this game's Lightning Cup, Sky Garden was originally the second course of the same cup in Super Circuit.
    • The Japanese version of the game names ROB after his series number, HVC-012.
  • Nerf: Baby Park's lap count has been reduced from 7 to 5, and the absence of the specialized items from Double Dash!! (with the exception of the Bob-Omb, which turns into a regular item in this game) makes it an easier track overall.
  • No Fair Cheating: If you use a cheating device to unlock all the characters and vehicles, you will unlock everything... except R.O.B. Strangely, despite not being available through cheats, you still unlock R.O.B.'s karts for everyone to use.
  • Nostalgia Level: This game and all Mario Kart games thereafter traditionally featured retro courses, including both race tracks and battle tracks. While the tradition had a precedent with Super Circuit, that game only brought back the SNES Mario Kart tracks and their cup format was a bit different (and the fact Double Dash!! didn't have retro tracks made it seem like a one-time novelty back then). For this game in particular, there are equitably four tracks from each of the previous four games in the series; meanwhile, two of the six Battle courses are retro: One from 64 (Block Fort) and another from Double Dash!! (Pipe Plaza).
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: Like it did in Double Dash!!, acceleration is the central stat not only because of how fast the vehicle gains its top speed, but also because it determines the power of turbo boosts.
  • Palmtree Panic: Mushroom Cup has Cheep Cheep Beach while Leaf Cup has SNES Koopa Beach 2 and the Battle Mode stage Palm Shore is on small tropical islands occasionally submerged by water.
  • Pass Through the Rings: The game requires the player to pass through rings in some stages of Mission Mode. And to earn the three-star rank, it's necessary to do this fast.
  • Pinball Zone: Waluigi Pinball, which returned in 7. This track is also notable for its unique feature of having sound effects replaced with 8-bit pinball-sounding ones.
  • Player Elimination: In the exclusive Shine Runners battle game, all players with the fewest Shine Sprites are eliminated from the game when the timer reaches zero. Then the timer is reset and the process continues until one player remains.
  • Port Town: Delfino Square, which takes place in a lively harbor town set in Isle Delfino. There's a drawbridge that opens and closes periodically.}
  • Prolonged Video Game Sequel: Barring the case of Super Circuit, which featured a total of 40 tracks (20 original plus all 20 from the original SNES game), it used to be a tradition for the games in the series to have either 16 or 20 racetracks and 4 battle courses. Not here, and not ever since. This game brought back the idea of Nostalgia Level cups seen in Super Circuit, this time including retro tracks from all of its predecessors, ramping the amount to 32 tracks and at least 6 battle courses. This has been a steady amount for the following games until Mario Kart 8 raised the bar even further.
  • Rank Inflation: If an A rank is not enough for you, try to get 1, 2, or 3 stars.
  • Recurring Riff: The game does this with a lot of its track themes using riffs from the title screen music.
  • Remilitarized Zone: Star Cup has Airship Fortress which, true to its name, harkens back to the SMB3 Airship levels while also incorporating the Fortress motifs. It returns in Mario Kart 7 and Mario Kart Tour as a Nostalgia Level.
  • Retcon: Peach and Yoshi returned to light weight from their middle weight status in Double Dash!!note  before becoming middle weight again in Wii. Waluigi is a Jack-of-All-Stats here like he was in Double Dash!!, before he was made heavy in Wii and 8.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Desert Hills, which is based on the desert levels from Super Mario Bros. 3 and features many of its original elements such as pyramids, Fire Snakes and the Angry Sun (Pokeys are present as well, but they weren't present in Super Mario Bros. 3 itself, so their presence here is credited to the desert levels from Super Mario Bros. 2 instead).
  • Sinister Sentient Sun: There is an Angry Sun in the skies above the Desert Hills racetrack, and while it doesn't ram into the players like it did in it's debut game, it shoots hazardous fireballs at the racers.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: DK Pass as well as N64 Frappe Snowland. In DK Pass, large snowballs fall down, thus making the ascent part more dangerous (the descent is easier, as the snowy road is wider and there's more leeway to dodge them).
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: All items apart from the Fake Item Box and Shiny Blue Shell are sprites. In addition, a few course hazards are also sprites.
  • Steel Drums and Sunshine: The game has steel drums in its melody for Cheep Cheep Beach. They're even more prominent in the updated Mario Kart 8 version.
  • Superboss: Giant Wiggler, the boss of the secret set of Mission Mode levels that is unlocked after earning at least one star in each of the regular missions. Due to its size, it runs incredibly fast, so you have to use the Star at all times to win the race (luckily, all Item Boxes have Stars and nothing else).
  • Super Title 64 Advance: This is the first game since 1997 to play it straight, as Super Circuit (GBA) and Double Dash!! (GCN) had averted it.
  • Tank Goodness: Dry Bones' skill vehicle Dry Bomber looks like a tank: while it's one of the lightest cars, its acceleration is the best in the whole game.
  • Tick Tock Tune: Tick Tock Clock's music incorporates this to go along with its Clockworks Area setting, which is notable because the area originally averted the trope in its source material (Super Mario 64, in which it merely reused the Slider theme). This is taken further in the rendition of the track in Mario Kart 8.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Peach and Daisy are the only two female characters in the game. This is the first and last time this trope has appeared in the series.
  • Video Game Perversity Potential: The game has a feature that lets players create an emblem to display on their karts throughout the game, including multi-player and online. Didn't take long for nearly every player to decorate the hood of their karts with breasts and penises. You could also change your profile name, which led to some "creative" names online. Nintendo was not impressed and removed this feature after this game.
  • Weird Sun: The Angry Sun appears as a background character in the Super Mario Bros. 3-inspired Desert Hills course, shooting Fire Snakes onto the course to slow down the racers.
  • When Trees Attack: In the Luigi's Mansion track, the forest contains some trees that scoot about. They like creeping into the way of racers (making them more like trolling trees) but are otherwise harmless.

 
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