Mario Kart DS

Strategy Guide/Walkthrough/FAQ



  • Leaf Cup

    Win a Gold trophy in the Shell Cup and Banana Cup to unlock the Leaf Cup for that class.

  • Lightning Cup

    Win a Gold trophy in the Leaf Cup to unlock the Lightning Cup for that class.

  • Rainbow Cup

    Beat all the Staff Ghost Data on the Retro tracks to unlock the Rainbow Cup in the Retro Grand Prix.

  • Star Cup

    Win a Gold trophy in the Mushroom Cup and Flower Cup to unlock the Star Cup for that class.

  • Special Cup

    Win a Gold trophy in the Star Cup to unlock the Special Cup for that class.

  • 150cc Mirror Mode

    Win all Gold trophies in all cups in the Retro Grand Prix 150cc class to unlock 150cc Mirror Mode.

  • Mission Mode mission 7

    Get a 1 Star or greater rank on each level of missions 1 through 6 to unlock mission 7.

  • Bonus karts

    Win a Gold trophy in all cups in the Nitro Grand Prix in the 100cc class to unlock a third kart for all characters. Win a Gold trophy in all cups in the Nitro Grand Prix in the 150cc class to unlock a total of seven karts for all characters. Win a Gold trophy in all cups in Nitro Mirror mode in the 150cc class to unlock all karts for all characters.

  • Play as Daisy

    Win a Gold trophy in all cups in the Nitro Grand Prix in the 50cc class to unlock Daisy.

  • Play as Dry Bones

    Win a Gold trophy in all cups in the Retro Grand Prix in the 50cc class to unlock Dry Bones.

  • Play as R.O.B.

    Win a Gold trophy in all cups in Retro Mirror mode in the 150cc class to unlock R.O.B.

  • Play as Shy Guy

    Play a Download Play game against another player to have the option to play as Shy Guy. Note: Shy Guy can only be used Download Play mode.

  • Play as Waluigi

    Win a Gold trophy in all cups in the Retro Grand Prix in the 100cc class to unlock Waluigi.

  • Alternate ending sequence

    Win all Gold trophies in all cups and classes to change the ending sequence.

  • Star next to name

    Win all cups in all classes with a 1 Star or greater rank for a star to appear next to your name in Multiplayer mode and on the "Records" screen.

  • Easy Staff Ghost wins

    Learn to use SSMTS (Snaking); it will improve your time if done well enough, but it is difficult to master.

  • Development team ghost times

    Successfully complete the indicated circuit with a time less than the target to unlock its development team ghost racer, with the corresponding best time:

      Nitro Cup: Airship Fortress: 2:10:000
      Nitro Cup: Bowser Castle: 2:20:000
      Nitro Cup: Cheep Cheep Beach: 1:45:000
      Nitro Cup: Delfino Plaza: 1:55:000
      Nitro Cup: Desert Hills: 1:35:000
      Nitro Cup: DK Pass: 2:15:000
      Nitro Cup: Figure-8 Circuit: 1:38:000 (1:36:481 best time)
      Nitro Cup: Luigi's Mansion: 2:00:000
      Nitro Cup: Mario Circuit: 1:57:000
      Nitro Cup: Peach Gardens: 1:53:000
      Nitro Cup: Rainbow Road: 2:17:000
      Nitro Cup: Shroom Ridge: 2:06:000
      Nitro Cup: Tick-Tock Clock: 1:55:000
      Nitro Cup: Walugi Pinabll: 2:24:000
      Nitro Cup: Wario Stadium: 2:15:000
      Nitro Cup: Yoshi Falls: 0:58:000
      Retro Cup: Baby Park: 0:55:000 (0:50:920 best time)
      Retro Cup: Banshee Boardwalk: 2:15:000
      Retro Cup: Bowser Castle 2: 1:53:000
      Retro Cup: Choco Island 2: 1:02:000
      Retro Cup: Choco Mountain: 2:16:000
      Retro Cup: Donut Plains 1: 1:09:000
      Retro Cup: Frappe Snowland: 2:09:000
      Retro Cup: Koopa Beach 2: 0:55:000
      Retro Cup: Luigi Circuit: 1:37:000 (1:29:759 best time)
      Retro Cup: Mario Circuit 1: 0:51:000
      Retro Cup: Moo Moo Farm: 1:18:000
      Retro Cup: Mushroom Bridge: 1:31:000
      Retro Cup: Peach Circuit: 1:13:000
      Retro Cup: Sky Garden: 1:45:000
      Retro Cup: Yoshi Circuit: 1:49:000

  • Skip credits

    Press Select + Start to skip the credits to the congratulations screen.

  • Quick start

    During the initial countdown, hold down the gas (A) about a half of a second to a second after the number "2" appears to get a large boost when the race starts. You may have to practice to get the correct timing.

  • Extra boost while driving

    Press R to hop while turning or when making a turn. While you are sliding, or immediately beforehand, keep pressing Left then Right (or vice versa) to acquire a blue flame behind your kart. Release it to get a slight boost. If you keep pressing Left then Right (or vice versa) some more while you have the blue flame, you will get a red/orange flame for an even better boost. You may or may not notice the blue flame when getting the red/orange flame.

  • Drafting

    If you are in second place or worse, follow the opponent ahead of you very closely. You will see lines on the sides of your kart. Follow close for long enough, and a large air wave will appear in front of you. This will increase your car's top speed momentarily and allow you to push aside other karts, even if you are light. When the wave disappears, your speed will return to normal.

  • Snaking

    Snaking is the art of getting boosts on straightaways by turbo sliding. First, get to one side of the track. Then, turbo slide to the other side of the track. Before you reach the other side of the track, begin holding the opposite direction. For example, if you were turbo sliding to the right, hold Left. Once you are turbo sliding roughly in a straight line, begin tapping Left and Right until gold sparks begin shooting from your tires. Then, stop turbo sliding. If done correctly, you will get a quick boost. You must be able to do all of this very quickly, or you will reach the end of the straightaway before you get the boost. Also, make sure you stop turbo sliding when the gold sparks shoot from your tires, and not blue ones.

  • Higher jump

    To jump higher when you are going over a jump, press R. This requires some practice and precise timing.

  • Save time with sandy pits

    On any sandy pit on a curve that would normally slow you down, use a mushroom to cross over it.

  • Inflate balloons faster

    Instead of holding Select, blow into the microphone. If you stop or go very slow in balloon battle, you can blow up your kart's balloons; however there is a limit on the top right. If you hold Select it will fill your balloon, but if you blow into the mic it works better. If you whistle into the mic it works even better.

    When playing in Balloon Battle mode, on the top screen you may see four yellow balloons in the top right corner. Everyone starts out with one balloon on their Mario Kart. After the "3, 2, 1, Start!" countdown ends, instead of going towards the mystery boxes, stay in place and hold Select to fill up a balloon. Note: You may only have up to three balloons at a time on your kart.

  • Stealing balloons

    When playing in Balloon Battle mode, you can steal balloons from another kart by getting a Speed-Up Mushroom from a mystery box and ramming another player. Note: You may only have up to three balloons at a time on your kart.

  • Throw a banana peel forward

    While throwing a banana peel, press Up.

  • Holding items behind you

    While having a throwable item in your inventory, hold L or X to hold any throwable item behind you. This can protect you from oncoming opponent attacks from items that hit you from behind, such as red and green shells. You are also able to store another item in your inventory while holding your throwable item behind you.

  • Placing traps

    Always use your items strategically. Use them to block others and place them where players do not have enough time to react, such as in a turn or at the bottom of a hill.

  • Using the "?" boxes correctly

    Use the following trick to help your chance of winning in almost all modes of play. When getting a "?" box, wait until you see another item box before planting it. If timed correctly, the "?" box that was laid down will be directly on top of where the original one was. If anyone tries to get it, they will not be able to tell it is a fake until they hit it.

  • Lighting bolt

    On the DK Jungle Parkway, Royal Raceway, or Wario Stadium courses, use a lightning bolt just before someone reaches the jump. They should fall off the jump, costing them time. Do not use it when they are on the turbo pads because it will not affect them.

  • Dodging turtle shells

    To dodge red and green turtle shells, drop another item trap behind you just as it is about to hit you. To dodge blue turtle shells, turbo boost just before it lands. It will hover and spin above your head; this is when you boost. It is difficult to do, but works.

    Use the following trick to dodge blue shells. Occasionally, look at the small bottom boxes with the character and their item on it. When you see a blue shell, pull back very quickly before they shoot it and let the person in second go to first; move away so you do not get hit by the explosion. This may take practice, but it is very useful.

  • Character effects

    Characters only affect weight. You can get a good idea of how much weight they add by their appearance. For example, Bowser is heavy while Dry Bones is light.

  • Recommended player and kart combination

    Use R.O.B. and R.O.B. LGS. The heavy weight will help knock people off the track while their high speed will help you get past your opponents and gain the lead.

  • Upside down track

    In Time Trials mode, choose any character and car, then select the Rainbow Road track. When you get to the part that is only boosts, crash into a wall and jump. It will appear as if the stage has flipped upside down. Note: If you jump on the first area filled with boosts, sometimes you will just fly off into space and the stage will not flip temporarily.

  • Shortcut in Bowser's Castle

    When you get to the rotating floor, go around it all the way until you see the small entrance.

  • Shortcuts in Delfino Square

    Near the halfway point of the course, use a mushroom to cross the water and land on a dock. This is not easy, but saves a lot of time. Additionally, after the track is on again after it splits, go over the bridge and follow the course as usual. Slightly before you make the right turn to go across the bridge, make a right turn to go in an alleyway and cut the corner and be ahead on the track slightly. It is recommended that this be done with mushrooms or some other speed boost item.

  • Shortcuts in Mario Circuit

    In Mario Circuit 1, get two mushrooms. On the third turn there are two pipes. Use the mushrooms in the dirt part to save approximately five seconds. The second shortcut is in Desert Hills. In the part with the big "pyramid", there is a small gap. Use a mushrom to go through a good shortcut.

  • Shortcut in Sky Garden

    When you get to the second green bridge, look to the left to see a cloud that goes across to the other track. Hop over it to get to it, then hop back off to avoid falling off. Note: This may require some practice.

  • Shortcut in Waluigi Pinball

    After you shoot up the slot at the beginning of the race, get a mushroom and wait until you see the first ramp on the track. When you are coming toward it, use the mushroom to ramp off and go over your opponents on the track. This can help you to get ahead a few places.

  • Shortcut in Wario Stadium

    This course is one of the longest in the game, but it has a shortcut that can cut a lot of time off your lap. It is possible to jump over the wall to the left of the starting line by using any one of the four small jumps there. Although you can make it over the wall without the assistance of any speed boosting item, a Mushroom or Mini-Turbo assist is helpful. Approach the wall at a high speed so that you are driving directly at it as you reach the peak of the small hill. Jump right before you hit the wall and you will fly over it. The timing requires some practice, but once you master it, it is not too difficult. It is also possible to jump back over the wall on the other side of the starting line, but the return jump is much more difficult and requires precise jump timing and aim.

  • Shortcuts in Yoshi's Circuit

    Just after the first two turns, go straight and you will see a gap in the wall. Hop over it to get ahead. Additionally, drive forward until you see the two cloud signs that read "Nintendo" in red. Right after you pass the second sign, you should see a hole in the wall. You may need to use a Mushroom or any other speed items to get across.

  • Shortcut in Yoshi's Valleys

    This course is a tangle, as shown in the introductory map. However, there are a few shortcuts that will help you defeat just about anybody. Follow the course until you reach the maze part. Immediately go left and keep towards the left. The first shortcut is to stay left on the narrow part of the course. After doing that, you will hit a little checkered ledge, and see a large red and white sign on the left pointing to the right. This is the difficult part. Accelerate as fast as possible and stay to the far right. As soon as the rail on the left side ends, pull a hard left powerslide off the road. You will continue the powerslide onto the upcoming road after you land, and if done correctly, you will have shaved off at least ten seconds. This requires a lot of practice.

  • Retro mode courses

    Banana Cup

      Donut Plains 1: SNES
      Frappe Snowland: Nintendo 64
      Bowser Castle 2: Game Boy Advance
      Baby Park: GameCube

    Leaf Cup

      Koopa Beach 2: SNES
      Choco Mountain: Nintendo 64
      Luigi Circuit: Game Boy Advance
      Mushroom Bridge: GameCube

    Lightning Cup

      Choco Island 2: SNES
      Banshee Boardwalk: Nintendo 64
      Sky Garden: Game Boy Advance
      Yoshi Circuit: GameCube

    Shell Cup

      Mario Circuit 1: SNES
      Moo Moo Farm: Nintendo 64
      Peach Circuit: Game Boy Advance
      Luigi Circuit: GameCube

  • Enemy attacks

    Look at your bottom screen to know if you are about to be attacked by an enemy (such as by a Green Shell). The following are the symbols for the various enemy attacks:

      Banana Peels: A yellow banana peel on the ground.

      Blue Shell: A blue turtle shell rushing at you or a blue dot following you until it hits you.

      Green Shell: A green turtle shell rushing towards you.

      Red Shell: A red turtle shell homing in on you.

      Mystery Box: A red checkered box on the ground.

      Turbo Missile: A black missile homing in on every player from seventh to first. Note: This is another player that was in eighth place.

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