Mario Kart DS

Game review by
Erin Bell, Common Sense Media
Mario Kart DS Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Fresh, fun go-karting with cartoonish mischief.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 60 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Competition can get a bit ruthless and devious, but it's all in good fun. The game engine helps people bringing up the rear by giving them better power-ups.

Violence & Scariness

Cartoonish. You can fire turtle shells at opponents, leave banana peels for them to slide on, jolt them with lightning, leave bombs for them to run over, and squirt ink on their windshields. When hit, the karts spin out for a few seconds then keep on going. In Battle mode, you try to burst balloons on opponents' karts.


This is part of the Nintendo Mario franchise.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this go-kart racing game has cartoonish, mischievous violence as players try to take each other out with various power-ups. Drivers lob turtle shells and balloons at opponents, leave banana peels for them to slide on, jolt them with lightning, leave bombs for them to run over, and squirt ink on windshields. When hit, karts spin out for a few seconds then keep on going. Released in 2005, this is still one of the best multiplayer games around, providing a quick, fun way for friends to compete.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRarityfan October 3, 2018


Classic Kart racing with tons of slapstick comedy. This is in the big selection of kart games of consumerism.
Parent of a 2, 10, 14, and 18+-year-old Written bySystemOfANintendo January 5, 2011

Mario Kart is fun for everybody.

Great game. I've played Mario Kart ever since it's debut on the Super Nintendo (which I still have). If you're going to get your kid a DS for his... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTheeIsTNT May 22, 2021

Mario Kart DS is awesome!

When I was 7, I got Mario Kart DS. For a game in 2005, it's not actually a bad game. It's easy to play, and it's really fun too! That's when... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 13, 2021

Great game but may be a little scary for people under 5

This game is a great action game for kids! Even older kids and teens can enjoy this game too! It has plenty of modes and unlockables, and there is not any viole... Continue reading

What's it about?

Like its predecessors, MARIO KART DS combines traditional racing mechanics with whimsical course design. A typical example is a course called Waluigi Pinball where you navigate around a giant pinball machine with bumpers, gutters, and giant rolling silver balls. Grand Prix mode offers eight Cup championships with four courses each; Nitro Grand Prix circuit offers 16 new courses, while the Retro Grand Prix offers a blend of classic courses from past Mario Kart games. Players choose from a roster of 11 Mario regulars to drive the kart; each character has a signature kart and a few fun alternatives like an egg, tank, or a tractor.

Is it any good?

Part of what makes this game so good is the plethora of game modes beyond the Grand Prix modes including Time Trials, VS races, Battle and Mission. The game allows up to three other people to compete through an ad hoc network or over WiFi.

One slightly controversial aspect is the effort to try to level the playing field: Power-ups are still a big part of the racing strategy, and karts running at the back of the pack receive better power-ups than those at the front. This is great if players of varying skill levels and ages want to play together, but it can be frustrating for the leaders. Still, the Mario Kart series has always been more about fun and inclusiveness than purely skills-based racing, and Mario Kart DS is no different. The game's stellar course design, top-notch production values, and depth make it the game by which all other DS kart racing titles must measure themselves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fairness. Should drivers at the back of the pack get the best power-ups? Why or why not? When in life is it good to give those falling behind an extra boost?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo DS
  • Price: $34.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Release date: November 14, 2005
  • Genre: Racing
  • Topics: Cars and Trucks
  • ESRB rating: E
  • Last updated: December 2, 2019

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