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Mario Kart DS slides onto launch grid

Wheel-spinning, shell-slinging go-kart racer revs up for the green light on DS. Plus: more info on the DS launch line ups

Nintendo has announced that Mario Kart DS, the new version of everyone's favourite go-kart racing game, will be among the titles available for the touchscreen handheld on its December 2 Japanese release date.

It will not be among the launch titles when the system hit stores in the US 10 days earlier on November 22. DS fans in the States will have to wait until January 10 to get their hands on the Mario Kart wheel.

Mario Kart DS brings the total of first-party Japanese launch games up to five, lining up as it does next to Super Mario 64 DS, Pokemon Dash, Band Brothers!, Made in Wario DS and Intuitive Stroke (hmm..). PictoChat and Metroid Prime Hunters: First Hunt, which is actually a demo version of the full game, both come bundled with the system.

Seven third-party titles are promised for the Japanese launch, but only five are confirmed at present - EA's the Urbz, Sega's Feel the Magic, Spike's Tendo Dokuta, Koei's Mahjongg Tournament and Success' Zoo Keeper.

The US launch lineup is slated to offer 10 to 12 games which currently include Super Mario 64 DS, The Urbz, Feel the Magic, THQ's Ping Pals, Ubisoft's Sprung (which used to be called Crush), Rayman DS and Asphalt Urban GT and Namco's Ridge Racer DS.

And Europe? We don't have a clue how the UK or European launch line up will shake out, but since we're looking at a March release for the hardware there's a stack of great games that'll already have been released in the US and Japan including Mario Kart DS Advance Wars DS, Viewtiful Joe, Tiger Woods, Need for Speed Underground and Super Mario Bros. DS.

We might have to wait longer, but we could be looking at a bumper crop of launch games.

You can touch a treasure trove of DS info here, and stay tuned for all the latest DS developments.

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