Nintendo delivered a one-two combo to its handheld faithful today by launching one of the DS's most anticipated features with one of its most anticipated games. Now, DS owners can compete against others over the Internet in Mario Kart DS using the freshly enabled Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.

Previously, multiplayer competition was limited to the handheld's local Wi-Fi capabilities, meaning that gamers who wanted to duke it out against others needed to be within a specified physical proximity of one another. With the new free-of-charge Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, DS owners can challenge others across the globe using a wireless Internet connection that supports Nintendo's service.

"Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection removes the barriers that have prevented many mainstream players from going online," says Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales & marketing. "We have made the service incredibly simple to use and free at select hotspot locations--but this is just the beginning."

Those select locations Fils-Aime refers to include almost 6,000 McDonald's restaurants across the country. Gamers can also do some online racing from home with their wireless Internet connections, or they can use a hardwired high-speed connection, a PC, and the Nintendo Wi-Fi USB Connector, which is available for purchase online at for $34.99. More information on the service is available at

The release of Mario Kart DS marks the debut of the series on the DS. Racers can speed along more than 30 tracks, including several that will be recognizable from other Mario Kart games. Once again, Nintendo's portly plumber leads the roster of playable characters as they aim for the checkered flag, dropping banana peels and launching Koopa Troopa shells at the competition.

Online support for the game will let up to four players across the globe challenge one another. By exchanging friend codes, players can easily search for buddies online. In local area wireless action, up to eight players can join a multiplayer session using just one copy of the game.