Download Play is a feature on Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS handheld consoles that allows users to access multimedia content such as games, videos and e-books over a wireless connection. No game card or cartridge is required to receive such content.
DS Download Play obtains data from a host and stores it in a portion of the guest system's RAM. As the original system only features 4 MB of RAM without an expansion cartridge, games and videos have a limited size. For example, Mario Kart DS only offers a few characters and tracks, while the Metroid Prime Hunters video is merely a 30-second commercial loop.
All systems from the Nintendo DS family (also including Lite, DSi and DSi XL variants) and the Nintendo 3DS family support DS Download Play. All consoles offer DS Download Play in the system menu.
Single-Card Download Play allows one system to host a game, such as Mario Kart DS, while other systems can join in as guests without a copy of the game. It is the successor to the Single-Pak multiplayer feature from the Game Boy Advance (GBA), available in games such as Mario Kart: Super Circuit. In both cases, guests download a simplified version of the game from the host, which is stored in the system's RAM (further limited to 256 KB with the GBA) and intended for multiplayer use only.
The DS Download Station allowed retailers such as GameStop and Best Buy to offer game demos, videos and e-books to customers with a compatible handheld. The series consisted of 19 volumes in North America from spring 2006 to summer 2011, with each volume including up to 11 game demos. With the exception of volume 3, volumes also included video, and beginning with volume 16, e-books with recipes or Alice's Adventures in Wonderland were also available.
The Nintendo 3DS family (also including XL, 2DS and New variants) supports both 3DS and original DS Download Play. The 3DS mode allows the new 3DS features, such as increased processor power and RAM (128 MB in original models and 192 MB in New models), to be used with downloaded titles. This results in minimal differences between standard and downloaded versions of games such as Mario Kart 7.
In Mario Kart
Mario Kart DS
Mario Kart DS offers a multiplayer function for both Single-Card and Multi-Card play. With the Single-Card Download Play function with the retail game, only eight tracks are available, all from the Mushroom and Shell cups. Guests must play as Shy Guy and drive in the Standard SG, while the host can choose from any other character.
Mario Kart 7
Mario Kart 7 merges Single-Card and Multi-Card multiplayer into one mode. This removes track limitations and allows access to all 32 tracks, with Single-Card guests downloading each track as it is played. Single-Card guests can only play as Shy Guy.