Nintendo has updated Mario Kart DS's European release date and announced European pricing for the Wi-Fi USB Connector it unveiled in Japan this week, which will launch on the same day. Having mentioned this yesterday, we thought we'd go into more detail for you on how it all works.
Mario Kart DS is now set to be with us on November 25th and coincides with the introduction of Nintendo's Wi-Fi Connection worldwide multiplayer service. Players will be able to play Mario Kart DS online against people all around the world - either through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Access Points located in high street stores, through Nintendo Wi-Fi-enabled public Wi-Fi hotspots, or through home computers equipped with the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector, which will retail for £30.
Mario Kart's online play will allow for racing modes only, Nintendo recently confirmed, with Battle mode restricted to wireless LAN play. Those going online will be able to take advantage of a Friend Roster feature that allows players to keep in touch with their mates by swapping Friend Codes and inserting them into the game, which then keeps track of when they come and go. It's also possible to match your skill level to random strangers - something managed through Nintendo's centralised skill-mapping system.
Those who don't care to venture online will be well catered for too. As well as an expansive single-player game, featuring a mixture of old and new tracks and familiar elements like shoulder-button hopping and sliding, projectile power-ups, banana skins and the like, wireless LAN play will allow up to eight people to engage in multiplayer racing with one game card.
It's not explicitly clear from Nintendo's announcement whether one game card will be enough to support Battle mode, so we'll let you know on that one - the GBA Mario Kart, probably the best rule of thumb for this, offered those with just one cartridge limited multiplayer options and opened the full line-up of tracks and modes up to groups with multiple cartridges between them.
Over in the US, the Wi-Fi story's slightly different - Mario Kart DS and Tony Hawk's American Sk8land (dear god) will launch on November 14th with the US Wi-Fi USB Connector, and they will be followed by Animal Crossing: Wild World on December 5th. We're still waiting on confirmation of UK dates for the latter two, so stay tuned for those.
Finally, it's worth adding that Metroid Prime Hunters, the multiplayer first-person shooter derived from the Metroid Prime series, will also support Wi-Fi Connection when it launches in 2006.
Nintendo Europe says further details of Wi-Fi Connection and public hotspots will be made available soon.