Mario Kart DS contains 17 different items, all hidden in item boxes scattered around a track. After driving through an item box a player will get an item selected by the game.
The selection process is not completely random. The item a racer will get depends on the position the racer is in. The racer is in first place will always get a defensive item, such as a banana or a green shell. Racers in a lower positions are more likely to get offensive items which help the racer take a higher position in the race.
There are two main types of item available: Weapons and Power-ups. Weapons include shells, bananas and lightning bolts, and power-ups include speed boosts and invincibility.
Some weapons can be dragged behind the kart to offer protection against weapons from behind. This is done by holding and the pressing and holding . Releasing will drop the item. When dragging an item, the racer's item slot becomes empty and can therefore be filled with another item. Dragging items is not possible in Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection mode.
The most common item in Mario Kart DS, the banana can be thrown forwards or dropped behind. When used, bananas sit on the track creating an obstacle. When a character runs into it, the banana makes them spin out and momentarily stop. Bananas can also be dragged behind the kart for protection.
When used, Blooper goes to every opponent ahead of you and sprays ink in their faces. This makes racers slow down slightly and weave all over the track because they can't see. When used against a multiplayer opponent or Wi-Fi opponent ink covers part of their view, obscuring their vision, but they are not forced to slow down. It is possible to steer around and avoid obstacles by using the map when you have ink over view. The ink can be wiped off by using a mushroom or hitting a boost pad.
Similar to the Banana, except the Bob-Omb explodes violently. The Bob-Omb can be thrown forwards or dropped backwards and will stop wherever it lands. The Bob-Omb explodes within a few seconds of being thrown, making it a very dangerous weapon. Anyone within the blast radius is stopped and loses whatever item they have. Like the banana, the Bob-Omb can be dragged behind. The only issue is if it gets hit by a shell, it explodes.
When used, Boo will steal the best item on the field from another opponent and give the stolen weapon to the racer who used him. If there are two or more of the same best item, Boo will come after the closest racer to the racer who used him. In addition, Boo makes you invisible and invincible, allowing you to pass through other racers, their items, and any course obstacles like Goombas.
It is notable that when playing Battle mode in Multiplayer, if one of the human players loses, they will turn into a ghost. After every few seconds, they will get an Item Box to help their teammates. However, if all of the human players lose, the battle will end.
A new addition to the Mario Kart series, the Bullet Bill will encase the racer's kart and then both boost and auto-drive the kart for a few seconds until it disappears. It will also knock over any other racers who collide with it. Use caution with the Bullet Bill on tracks where you can fall off. When he drops you off you will be going straight and may shoot off the track if you are not prepared. You can steer the Bullet Bill slightly with and . The Bullet Bill also provides invincibility. Bullet Bills are uncommon unless you are in or near last place.
Fake Item Box
One of the most basic weapons in Mario Kart, the Fake Item Box impersonates an item box when it is thrown. When hit, the fake item box makes the racer tumble and then stop. Three things distinguish these fakes from real item boxes: Fake Boxes don't spin; the question mark isn't there, and they show up as a different color on the map. This item can be dragged but doesn't offers protection against shells.
A rare version of the Mushroom in which you are given an infinite number of boosts within a small length of time instead of just getting one boost. Being off-road does not affect mushrooms much, so mushrooms are very useful to use, or create short-cuts over grass, sand, chocolate, etc.
When fired, the Green Shell will travel in a straight path until it either breaks or hits a racer, which will make them tumble over and then temporarily stop. It can also be fired backwards, but goes much slower this way. The Green Shell can bounce off walls three times. This item can be dragged behind and offers very good protection against shells.
A rare item during races, the Lightning Bolt hits all racers (except whoever threw it) with a bolt of lightning, which shrinks them all, slows them down, and makes them drop their items. Lightning Bolts can be avoided by hitting another item (such as a Bob-Omb or Shell) at the exact same time the lightning strikes, or having a Boo/Starman in effect. The effect of the lighting bolt depends on your position in the race. The effect is shorter for those who are closer to last place and longer for those closer to first place.
Provides a small boost for the racer who uses it. Being off-road does not affect mushrooms much, so mushrooms can be used to make short-cuts over grass.
Similar to the Green Shell but with one major difference - the Red Shell will lock on to a racer and then follow it. Instead of using its classic, straight approach to its target, it now uses a kind of curved approach which makes it more difficult to avoid by dropping an item to intersect it. Red Shells will break if they hit a wall or another item like a Banana, Green Shell, or wall. This item can also be dragged or fired backwards, but when it gets fired backwards it won't home in on anyone.
The most powerful shell in the game. When a racer uses the Spiny Shell, it flies away, seeking out the lead kart and then hits them, creating an explosion which will cause the them and anyone else caught in the blast to be sent flying into the air and lose any items they are carrying. Any other racers who get involved in it later will spin-out. If you are in first place, the only ways to avoid getting hit by the Spiny Shell are to drop a Bob-Omb right before getting hit, using a Boo, using a Star, or using the Spiny Shell dodge technique. Obtaining a Bob-Omb, Boo, or Star is harder when in first place. It is not usable in Battle Mode.
The rarest item in the game, the star provides the racer with temporary invincibility as well as increased speed and handling. Also, if a racer using the star comes into contact with any other racer, that racer will crash in the same way as when they are hit by a Bob-Omb or Bullet Bill. Use caution when driving on tracks with edges because the extra speed from the star makes steering feel different, and that could result in falling off the track. although, you have a better chance of obtaining it if you are in or near last place. the same goes in balloon battle and shine runners.
Same as the Banana, but instead you are given three. This item can be dragged behind the kart but unlike other draggable items you only have to press the item button instead of holding it down for to keep dragging it. Dragging Triple Bananas offers excellent protection against an incoming shell from behind. Note that this item is not obtainable during a Wi-Fi match.
Triple Green Shells
Same as the Green Shell, but you are given three Green Shells instead of one. Can also be used as a shield because the shells rotate around the kart until they are fired. This item is also not obtainable in Wi-Fi matches.
Just like a Mushroom, only there's three instead of one for more turbo boosts. They're good for getting through the pack.
Triple Red Shells
The same as the Red Shell, but you are given three. Just like the Triple Green Shells, you can also use this weapon as a shield because the shells rotate around your kart until they are fired. Once again, this item is not obtainable in Wi-Fi matches.