7 Best Nintendo DS Racing Games and be the star of the grid

Admittedly, the racing genre is the weakest on the Nintendo DS. But that does not mean that there are no great racers on it. Below are seven of the best racing games on the handheld.

Best nintendo ds racing games

7. Diddy Kong Racing

Diddy Kong Racing DS is the updated version of the classic Nintendo 64 (N64) kart racing game, The graphics, while adhering to DS standards, offer more detail than the N64 original, though many elements remain 2D. Character designs are well-detailed, introducing new characters like Dixie and Tiny Kong while replacing Banjo and Conker. However, the altered voices and absence of the original characters may be off-putting to some fans. Two new playable characters, Wizpig and Taj, are rewards for completing Adventure and Adventure 2.

The addition of four new courses brings fresh content, but some boss areas lack the original obstacles. The game's three vehicles—car, hovercraft, and plane—offer varied handling experience. There is also a welcome addition of minigames, including Balloon Touch Challenge and Wish Races.

Diddy Kong Racing DS surpasses Mario Kart DS in certain aspects, such as Single Card play allowing character selection and accommodating eight players in Wi-Fi races but this aspect of the game is already moot. While it has flaws as some of the characters and gameplay features of the original are omitted, Diddy Kong Racing DS offers an enjoyable experience, particularly for those who have no point of comparison. Still, this racing game is one of the very few elite racing titles on the platform. 

6. Race Driver: Create and Race

Race Driver: Create and Race for the DS turned out to be a delightful racing game amidst its bland, generic, and boring descriptive title. This is one of the games on the DS regardless of genre that has absolutely perfect gameplay.

In Race Driver: Create and Race, 32 unique tracks offer diverse challenges to whatever driving style the player has. The game provides a rich racing experience, whether in time trials or Tours against challenging A.I. opponents. The computer opponents exhibit fast and patterned driving, creating both fun and challenging races. 

Other than the tight gameplay, this game also offers a plethora of content. The two Tours alone offer six hours of gameplay, and time trials provide endless challenges. The highlight, of course, is the track editor, which allows players to create and share custom tracks online, although again, this part of the game is nonexistent.

Race Driver: Create and Race is a must-have for fans of sim-type racers, offering endless fun and challenges. The multiplayer aspect of this game was incredible at the time of its release. Unfortunately, that time is long past, but what remains is still a magnificent experience.

5. Sideswiped

Sideswiped offers a thrilling and entertaining racing experience on the DS, reminiscent of Burnout with its PS1-style graphics and quirky physics. This racing game excels in delivering fast-paced, stress-relieving gameplay. The controls are straightforward, utilizing buttons for acceleration, boosting, braking, drifting, and steering with the D-pad. There are no touchscreen controls during races, which is god-sent, and it continues to baffle even today why some developers insist on including that control scheme on a racer.

The graphics, as mentioned earlier, are reminiscent of the PS1 era but run at a smooth 60 frames per second. Despite limitations, the visuals creatively use color to compensate, enhancing the game's appeal and tone. The car damage mechanics add to the experience, with doors flying open, hoods taking a beating, and engines smoking as the vehicle endures damage. The music is unobtrusive, but the sounds of the cars and the amusing announcer's voice contribute to the overall enjoyment.

Just like all of the games on this list, the main characteristic that made this game part of this ranking is its exhilarating gameplay, featuring physics that defy gravity. Players experience intense moments as their cars go airborne, adding a unique and enjoyable element to the racing dynamics.

The forgiving AI in the early stages gradually increases the challenge. This is a great way to keep players engaged. With diverse vehicles, customization options, and numerous missions, the game boasts significant replay value. The two-player mode, mission challenges, and the ability to share the game through download play further extend its longevity. Despite minor flaws in graphics and music, Sideswiped earns its place as a must-have title for DS racing enthusiasts, offering a delightful and memorable racing experience.

4. Ridge Racer

Ridge Racer is a racer with a rich history. It has been around for so long, yet it is still a feat that it swerved its way to the DS of all platforms. Ridge Racer DS is an exceptional and unique handheld racing game. It looks and controls great, and surprisingly, the music was fire.

Stunning visuals usually do not go with a smooth frame rate, yet Ridge Racer DS is that game. Some may say it rivals even some console games of its time, but that is pure exaggeration. 

The sound design is actually impressive for a handheld game. The sound effects take full advantage of the DS's stereo capabilities. The detailed audio enhances the gameplay, allowing players to hear the direction of crashes and the screeching of tires. The techno-centric music is also praiseworthy. 

Another amazing characteristic of Ridge Racer DS is its control scheme. The game provides three distinct control options. While the "easy play" controls may be challenging due to the DS's D-pad limitations, the "hard play" and "expert play" controls, utilizing the stylus and wrist strap, respectively, provide fluid and enjoyable gameplay. 

3. Need for Speed Underground 2

For a better part of the 2000s, Need for Speed was the go-to racing game for racing enthusiasts and casual players. There is just this certain draw from those games including the killer soundtracks. 

Need for Speed Underground 2 on the Nintendo DS is not a mere port of the PC / home console version, the game offers a unique experience tailored for the handheld console. One particular mode that is beloved by players in Underground 2 is aptly named Underground Mode, where completing races earns points for acquiring new cars and unlocking an array of performance upgrades and visual enhancements. There are also customization options, including drawing decals with the Touch Screen. 

Graphically speaking, Undergrounds 2 showcases the capabilities of the DS, delivering detailed and colorful visuals that approximately resemble real-life counterparts. In terms of gaming value, Need for Speed Underground 2 offers extensive content with long-lasting appeal. The game's replayability is heightened by the option to improve race times, extensive car upgrades, and, as mentioned earlier, customization possibilities. 

2. Sonic and Sega All-Stars Racing

This is the precursor to the best mascot racing game of all time, Sonic and All Stars Transformed. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing for the DS delivers an enjoyable kart racing experience with a humorous twist. The character selection is solid, featuring iconic figures like Sonic, Dr. Eggman, and Tails, along with Sega favorites like Ryo Hazuki and Ai Ai. 

The gameplay closely adheres to the kart racing genre's standard. There are 20 characters to choose from and players race across 24 Sonic and Sega courses. Players can also engage in Grand Prix mode, tackling six tournaments with four courses each, earning points based on race performance. 

The racing modes vary, from standard Grand Prix to time trials and unique mission challenges. Items play a crucial role, featuring homing missiles, mines, and the All-Star item that triggers character-specific moves. The game strikes a balance between accessibility and challenge, with difficulty levels impacting CPU intelligence and speed.

1. Mario Kart DS

Mario Kart DS is the pinnacle of the Mario Kart series, offering an outstanding kart racing experience. While the graphics may not rival console standards, they are exceptional for a handheld device at the time of its release. However, it's the gameplay that truly shines, with brilliantly designed courses, a vast array of racing options, and engaging modes like Mission and Battle. Again, the discussion below of the multiplayer aspect is merely academic, so as to illustrate why this game is revered and considered the best racing game on the DS. 

The multiplayer aspect, the heart of the Mario Kart franchise, is a major highlight, offering local vs. mode and the return of the classic balloon battle mode. The introduction of DS Download Play ensured quick multiplayer sessions, even if your friends don't own the game. The addition of NFC (Wi-Fi connection) further enhances the multiplayer experience, allowing worldwide and national races, as well as the innovative Rivals mode that matches players based on skill. 

Mario Kart DS excels in every crucial aspect, from graphics to gameplay and multiplayer features. Truthfully, there are better  Mario Kart games after the DS’ fantastic entry, yet even if such is the fact, Mario Kart DS is still one of the best racing games ever and the best on the DS.