Published on February 26, 2023

20 Best Nintendo DS Racing Games

Despite the inferior hardware, the DS was one of the most successful handhelds to date, focusing more on gameplay and dual-screen features. The DS was more than capable of delivering fun and engaging games. The racing genre was not an exception with a huge selection to choose from covering multiple genres and pleasing numerous tastes.

The Nintendo DS offered titles like Mario Kart, Diddy Kong, and many more, and took advantage of the unique hardware that the Nintendo DS has to offer. Today we are here to present you a selection of our best racing titles on the system including unique ports, exciting exclusives, and of course hidden gems.

Table of Contents

Mario Kart DS


2005
About
Release Date
November 14, 2005
Developer
Nintendo EAD
Publisher
Nintendo
Franchise
Mario
Genre
Arcade Racing
Perspective
Third-Person
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
Japan
DS Releases
2005-11-14
2005-11-17
2005-11-25
2005-12-08

Mario Kart DS is a well-known Nintendo title offering one of the greatest kart racing games on the system. Just like the previous titles, you control one of many characters from the Mario universe competing in a series of races where the goal is of course to reach the finish line first.

You go around the tracks collecting various powerups and weapons to use against your enemies, for example, you can throw a turtle’s shell at another participant to slow them down, or you can use a power-up to turn into a giant rocket traversing the track in no time. Up to 32 tracks can be unlocked including new and old ones remade for the ds, and up to 12 playable characters including Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, and many more. Overall, Mario Kart DS is a no-brainer with so much content, decent graphics, and addictive gameplay.

TrackMania DS


2008
About
Release Date
November 14, 2008
Developer
Firebrand Games
Publisher
Atlus
Franchise
Trackmania
Genre
Arcade Racing
Perspective
Third-Person
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2008-11-14
2009-03-17

Trackmania DS is a love letter to arcade racing fans, offering short yet sweet tracks and one of the biggest arcade racing campaigns on the system. The main objective of the game is very simple, you need to compete in various challenging tracks where the goal is to reach the finish line first while avoiding obstacles and taking sharp turns.

The game also features a puzzle mode, a platform mode, and a full-blown track editor to make your own race circuit. Graphically the game still holds up nicely, with sharp polygons and a high framerate. In terms of content, the game is huge with over 100 challenges to overcome and many more side modes. On the whole, Trackmania DS is well worth it with exceptionally large content and simple yet fun gameplay.

ASPHALT: URBAN GT™


2004
Media [9]
About
Release Date
November 17, 2004
Developer
Gameloft
Publisher
Gameloft
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
France
DS Releases
2004-11-17
2005-02-24
2005-03-11
2005-06-30

ASPHALT: URBAN GT is a straightforward arcade racing game, the game offers a decent selection of real-life licensed cars and a fairly simple track selection. Urban GT borrows a lot from series like Burnout and Ridge Raced, offering a great combination of fast-paced racing mixed with a little bit of Ridge Racers drifting.

Just like in Burnout the player is rewarded with boosts once engaging other opponents with aggression, the upper screen is where the gameplay is shown while the lower screen act as a map. Graphically the game pushes the DS to its limit with a sharp image and a constant 60-frame-per-second gameplay. In conclusion, Urban GT is a well-received arcade racing game with great graphics and very fun and engaging gameplay.

Sonic & Sega All-Stars™ Racing


2010
About
Release Date
February 23, 2010
Developer
Sumo Digital
Publisher
SEGA
Franchise
Sonic™
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2010-02-23
2010-02-26
2010-03-04

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing is a kart racing video game, the game feature multiple characters from the Sega franchises and marks the third installment of the Sega All-Star series. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing takes inspiration from early kart racing series like Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing, the player can participate in multiple events with up to 20 playable characters from the Sega universe. The goal of each race is to reach first while using powerups, weapons, and drifting skills.

Despite the game being labeled as a clone, Sumo Digital gave this game its own personality with tracks inspired by previous sega games such as Billy Hatcher, Super Monkey Ball, Jet Set Radio, and many more. The feel, atmosphere, and audio perfectly fit, creating an amazing experience. The driving control is tight, responsive, and fast, the tracks are perfectly designed, and the content is huge for a kart game. While the DS version is obviously hugely inferior to its console counterpart, the portability and the simple controls still give this demake a unique feel and make it somewhat enjoyable, especially if you have not played the console ports. 

Diddy Kong Racing DS


2007 Remake
About
Release Date
February 05, 2007
Initial Release: November 21, 1997
Developer
Rare
Publisher
Rare
Franchise
Donkey Kong
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Multiplayer, Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
Japan
DS Releases
2007-02-05
2007-04-19
2007-04-20

Diddy Kong Racing DS is a Nintendo-exclusive remake of a well-known kart racing game on the Nintendo 64, I know what you are thinking really a Nintendo kart racing that has nothing to do with Mario? Well bear with me a little, Diddy Kong Racing is unique in my opinion, especially with its controls, the game favor skills over powerups which makes it well worth it for skilled players and challenge seekers.

Similar to classic titles like Crash Team Racing, the game doesn’t offer a Grand Prix layout, instead you are free to roam the world choosing your next challenge. Regarding the game is a remake, developers made sure to implement many DS features in the game including touchscreen interactions, and newly recorded voices. While the game is not as good as Mario Kart the unique gameplay and the fun adventure mode make this well worth it by all means.

Speed Racer: The Videogame


2008
About
Release Date
May 06, 2008
Developer
Sidhe Interactive
Publisher
Warner Bros Games
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Multiplayer, Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
New Zealand
DS Releases
2008-05-06
2008-05-09
2008-07-24

Speed Racer The Videogame is a fast-paced arcade racing game inspired by a movie holding the same name. The game takes huge inspiration from the well know F-zero series, offering ultra-fast racing, and unrealistic tracks.

The player participates in different ultra-fast racing events where every corner and boost count. Sending other participants off-track fill the nitro meter further up, using the full nitro enter the player into zone mode doubling his speed twice the normal for a certain amount of time. Content-wise the game offers 20 playable characters from the movie each with their own vehicles, and 5 different tracks. Altogether, Speed Racer is the closest thing that you can get to DS F-Zero offering fast-paced futuristic racing, with solid gameplay.

Ridge Racer DS


2004 Remake
About
Release Date
December 07, 2004
Initial Release: February 14, 2000
Developer
Nintendo
Publisher
Nintendo
Franchise
Ridge Racer
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Multiplayer, Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
Japan
DS Releases
2004-12-07
2005-05-22
2005-06-03

Ridge Racer DS is a remake of the well-received Ridge Racer 64, although the game is labeled as a remake nothing is changed from the core mechanics of the game, the game is more like a straight port of the n64 version with dual screen add-on.

Just like every Ridge Racer game the game’s core mechanic is drifting, the player competes on real-life inspired course tracks where the goal is to reach the finish line first. Content-wise the game is well presented with over 20 GP races, 32 vehicles, and multiplayer support. Overall, the game is well worth it, offering decent graphics and fun yet challenging gameplay.

Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights


2007
About
Release Date
September 17, 2007
Developer
Juice Games
Publisher
THQ
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2007-09-17
2007-09-25
2007-09-28

Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights is your typical street racing game, you compete in different racing events, collecting the cash to buy new cars and upgrades. The racing circuits are pretty small offering short yet fun races, the tracks take place in different locations around the world including Japan, the United Kingdom, Spain, and many more.

Visually the game looks amazing for a DS game with a sharp image, colorful world, and authentic licensed cars. Overall, Juiced 2 is a nice little hidden gem offering great visuals, solid gameplay, and a beautiful representation.

Burnout Legends


2005
About
Release Date
September 13, 2005
Developer
Criterion Games
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Franchise
Burnout
Genre
Arcade Racing
Concept
Modern
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2005-11-29
2005-12-09

Despite the graphical downgrade compared to the PSP system, Burnout Legends still deserve a seat on this list, just like previous games in the series the main gimmick of the game is the aggressivity, you compete in different racing events where the goal varies from reaching first to crashing and ramming your opponent.

The game rewards your aggressive gameplay with a nitro boost that can be filled with each takedown, you can also fill the nitro meter with dangerous behaviors such as near misses, driving in the wrong line, drifting, and such. Graphically, the game might be a little bit rough around the edges compared to the PSP version, but still, the gameplay makes up for it big time. If you can overlook the graphical downgrade, this game might be quite enjoyable.

GRID™


2008
About
Release Date
May 30, 2008
Developer
Codemasters
Publisher
Codemasters
Franchise
GRID™
Genre
Arcade Racing
Graphics
3D
Perspective
Third-Person
Interaction
Real-Time
Concept
Realistic
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2008-05-30
2008-08-05
2008-08-08
2008-08-15

While Grid was a stunning success on the seventh generation’s console, the DS port didn’t meet the success it deserves. The developers made sure to capture the same feel of the main game while trying to deal with the unique Nintendo DS hardware.

While the overall gameplay is your typical racing sim, the developers put a great focus on two main racing styles street racing, and powerslide racing. Each location in the game gives a different vibe for example the US tracks focus more on street racing, and Japan Tracks are the way to go if you want to drift more. Visually, the game is stunning with detailed car models and acceptable physics. If you’re looking for a more realistic approach GRID port is well worth your time and money.

Need for Speed™ Nitro


2009
About
Release Date
November 03, 2009
Developer
EA Montreal
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Franchise
Need for Speed™
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
Canada
DS Releases
2009-11-03
2009-11-05
2009-11-06

Need For Speed Nitro is an exciting arcade racing game and the fourteenth game in the Need For Speed series. The game was exclusively developed for Nintendo both on the Wii and DS. Need For Speed Nitro is kind of a departure from the classic formula introducing cartoony and colorful graphics with unrealistic physics and fully arcade elements.

While of course, the DS port is graphically hugely inferior to its console counterpart, developers made sure to focus more on gameplay offering a very fun arcade experience. The career mode is huge offering multiple awards. Owned cars are fully customizable including colors, parts, and upgrades. On the whole, I personally still favor the console port over this one, still, this port is well worth it if you enjoy some small portion of gaming on the go.

Need for Speed™ Underground 2


2004
About
Release Date
November 09, 2004
Developer
EA Black Box
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Franchise
Need for Speed™
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
Canada
DS Releases
2005-05-10
2005-05-27

Need for Speed Underground 2 is another popular demake on this list, while the game might lack some elements from the original work, the sacrifice was at the right spot since the Nintendo DS is a portable device. Unlike the main game, there is no story mode here, instead, the developers offer a full-blown arcade mode called Go Underground.

in Go Underground, you can participate in different competitions collecting money and fame, the more you win the more you will unlock. The player can purchase new vehicles, fully customize owned ones, and buy different parts. Since the Ds is known for its dual-screen feature the game does a decent job of using this feature. While the upper screen shows the race the lower screen offers an in-depth look at the map and the Nitro ability.

Need for Speed™ ProStreet


2007
About
Release Date
October 30, 2007
Developer
EA Black Box
Publisher
Electronic Arts
Franchise
Need for Speed™
Genre
Arcade Racing
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
Canada
DS Releases
2007-10-30
2007-11-23

Players should feel right at home playing Need for Speed ProStreet, the game offers a wide range of vehicles to choose from with an amazing customization system that lets you choose from endless options.

Instead of your typical street racing circuits the game offers official asphalt-based tracks offering simulation races tracks with a friendly arcade handling system. The game also incorporates a rewind system to undo crashes helping newcomers to get a hold of the challenging competition. While the visuals aren’t on par with the console’s version, developers made sure to take advantage of the Nintendo Ds unique feature offering a personalized feel and look.

Race Driver Create & Race


2007
About
Release Date
September 28, 2007
Developer
Firebrand Games
Publisher
Codemasters
Genre
Arcade Racing
Graphics
3D
Perspective
Third-Person
Interaction
Real-Time
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2007-09-28
2007-10-02
2007-10-18

Race Driver Create and Race was Codemaster’s attempt to bring a full-blown arcade sim racer to the tiny Nintendo Ds, and they pretty much succeed. The game offers a well-balanced sim racer with a decent array of licensed cars including multiple classes, unique handling for each class, and an in-depth track editor where you can create your own tracks using the Dual Screen feature.

The main game mode is the World Tour mode, the player can participate in a series of racing events where the goal is to reach the finish line first. Succeeding in these events rewards the player with credits that can be used to unlock several game aspects and newly licensed vehicles. While the game looks like a full sim racer the control is still a little bit tweaked to be arcade-like, this helps a lot with the simple DS controls and the overall visuals. Overall, this is a solid title with decent elements, okay visuals, and a fun race-and-create system.

Moto Racer DS


2008
About
Release Date
November 28, 2008
Developer
Artefacts Studio
Publisher
SouthPeak Games
Genre
Arcade Racing
Graphics
3D
Perspective
Third-Person
Interaction
Real-Time
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
France
DS Releases
2008-11-28
2010-07-03

Moto Racer DS is an amazing motorbike racing game, the game doesn’t only offer a solid racing experience, but it adds so much to the plate with different game styles. The game is based on the popular Moto Racer series, which first appeared on the original PlayStation in 1997. Players can choose from a variety of motorbikes and race against other players on a variety of different tracks.

The game offers four different modes to enjoy, Moto GP where you compete in a series of racing events with realistic tracks and challenging AI. Traffic mode where you drive on streets avoiding the busy traffic, and Freestyle mode where the goal is to perform as many tricks as possible during your run. Overall, the game is a strong title for arcade lovers, offering a wide array of game modes and decent visuals for the time.

Colin McRae: DiRT 2


2009
About
Release Date
September 08, 2009
Developer
Codemasters
Publisher
Codemasters
Franchise
Colin McRae Rally / DiRT
Genre
Arcade Racing
Concept
Modern
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2009-09-08
2009-09-11
2009-09-17

While porting the original Dirt 2 was an impossible task, developers had to build a unique version from scratch for the Nintendo DS. Despite the huge graphical downgrade, the game can be enjoyed as a standalone title avoiding comparison and focusing on what the Nintendo DS can do.

The gameplay is pretty simple, the player jumps on competitions around the world driving on different tracks and controlling a decent array of vehicles. While the customization is minimal, the huge array of vehicles and tracks makes up for it pretty well. Overall, this demake is well worth it if you are willing to look at it as a standalone title and not a port of an already amazing game.

Ducati Moto


2008
About
Release Date
July 07, 2008
Developer
4J Studios
Publisher
Bethesda Softworks
Genre
Simulation Racing
Graphics
3D
Perspective
Third-Person
Interaction
Real-Time
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2008-07-07
2008-08-22

Ducati Moto is another fun Motorcycle racing video game on the DS. The game is based on the popular Ducati motorcycle racing series and features a variety of bikes, tracks, and game modes. Players can race in a variety of locations from around the world, including the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Players can also customize their bikes and rider with a wide selection of parts and clothing.

The game features a career mode in which players complete a series of races in order to advance and unlock new content. Players can also take part in single races, time trials, and races against AI opponents. On the whole, the game is a lot of fun with decent content and solid visuals for the time.

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli


2008
About
Release Date
July 04, 2008
Developer
Eutechnyx
Publisher
System 3
Genre
Simulation Racing
Graphics
3D
Perspective
Third-Person
Interaction
Real-Time
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2008-07-04
2008-08-28

Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli is a hardcore racing simulation video game, while the DS port is visually downgraded the game kept its console counterpart feel with challenging physics and a full-blown career mode. The game features a realistic physics engine and detailed tracks, as well as an array of driving assists to help you get the most out of your car.

The main focus of the game is participating in different racing events, the goal of each part is to outsmart the enemy AI and reach the finish line first, the challenge is there since the handling is pretty much realistic. Taking turns and braking play a huge role in achieving victory. In addition to the racing aspect of the game, the career mode lets you purchase, upgrade and customize cars.

MX vs. ATV Untamed


2007
About
Release Date
December 17, 2007
Developer
Rainbow Studios
Publisher
THQ
Franchise
MX vs. ATV
Genre
Arcade Racing
Graphics
3D
Perspective
Third-Person
Interaction
Real-Time
Players
Multiplayer, Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United States
DS Releases
2007-12-17
2008-03-07
2008-03-18

MX vs. ATV Untamed is your typical arcade ATV racing game. The game offers a respectable array of modes to keep you busy with different bikes to choose from and some decent customization options. The main ATV races put the player in a competition against computer AI, the goal is to reach the finish line first while performing different stuns and tricks alongside the track. On the whole, this is a solid port that tries to keep things as simple as it could.

Micro Machines V4


2006
About
Release Date
June 27, 2006
Developer
Supersonic Software
Publisher
Codemasters
Genre
Arcade Racing
Graphics
3D
Perspective
Top-Down
Interaction
Real-Time
Players
Single Player
Monetization
Buy to Play
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
DS Releases
2006-12-01
2007-02-06
2007-02-09

Micro Machines V4 is a fun micro toy racing game, the player control a miniature version of several vehicles on different unique tracks. The goal of each race is to reach the finish line as fast as possible, this can be done by outsmarting the enemy AI or even taking a shortcut.

The main catch of the game is the well-designed tracks, instead of your typical asphalt tracks the player race around a kitchen, a yard, a living room, and such. In addition to the typical racing elements, the player can also collect various powerups and attacks to use against the enemies similar to classic kart racing games. While the Nintendo DS is graphically inferior the overall feel and the solid gameplay make up for it especially if you are looking for a pickup-and-play game on the go.

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Freecs

A casual gamer who loves everything Nintendo, and swears by arcade racers, platformers, and hack 'n slash games.

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