Mario Kart: Double Dash

January 25, 2004

[floatleft][/floatleft]If there was one game that I was anticipating the arrival of on the Gamecube (almost as much as I would like to see a new REAL Donkey Kong and no Donkey Konga doesn’t count) it was Mario Kart. I have been a fan of Mario Kart, since well, it first came out all those years ago. I am still trying to put my finger on why I am such a huge fan of the Mario Kart series, I am not one for racing games typically. The only thing I can think of is those classic Nintendo characters and the outlandish race tracks they have to navigate. And hearing Luigi say “I’m-a Luigi! Numba one!” as he finishes in first place. I am a sucker for the guy in green, what can I say?

It is always amazing to me to see a game that has been around for a while go through what I like to call upgrades. You know, Super Mario Bros. to Mario 64 then to Mario Sunshine. It is the basic concept that stays the same, but improvements are made in story, game play, and obviously graphics as it moves from system to system. This has held true more so for Mario Kart than any other game, the concept has stayed nearly identical, drive in circles, get fastest time, hit people with random Nintendo paraphernalia. Mario Kart: Double Dash has a few additions to the same old driving in circles. There are now more characters, which I was happy to see (especially the addition of the baby class) and no matter if you are playing alone or with some other people, you have two people present in each kart. You have the option to switch between driver and passenger, which becomes quite fun when playing multiplayer as a team. At first, I was afraid that just riding in the back of a kart would prove to be no fun at all, but call me sadistic; I liked hurling things at the people around me. Another advancement in the gaming world can be applied to Double Dash is the system linking of the Cube. I have yet to hook my Cube up with another to try a little 8 player madness, but I would imagine that it would be fun; chaotic, but fun… especially in battle mode, mmmm… battle mode. There is another area that improvements were made upon. Instead of your standard Balloon Battle, which, don’t get me wrong, is tons of fun; you now have two other battle modes to play with. Lets just say the first involves stealing a Shine and the other involves blowing people up with bombs. You’ll have to try it out to see the new addictiveness of these battle games.

[floatright][/floatright]Graphically, Double Dash is your typical Nintendo Gamecube game. Nothing all that spectacular, but of course they are on par with what they should be. As far as the tracks you drive, they have plenty of the classics plus some new ones that prove to be quite the challenge, or some not so challenging, like the Baby Course, prove to be a fast new favorite due to its extremely chaotic nature. Again, nothing so out of the ordinary for Nintendo, it isn’t like they went out on a limb to create these elaborate new places to drive in, but again, it is no disappointment. Besides, who really plays Mario Kart for the stunning places it takes you? What is really the important factor in a Mario Kart game is the handling of the kart. That is one area where I think Nintendo improved greatly. The game gets its name from the double dash start that is like the old style boost that comes from hitting the gas at the perfect time, but this time, you have the option of doing this while playing with another person, making it all the more challenging as you both have to hit the gas at the perfect time. How is this an improvement you may be asking yourself. It makes a huge difference in your time to get the big old boost at the get go. Also, the karts have the ability to create their own boost by skidding. It is quite an art form to make those red, then blue sparks form. Overall handling of each kart for each division (heavy weight, light weight, etc) is even more apparent in Double Dash. Bowser’s car is definitely different to drive than Luigi’s and each individual kart (another addition in the game) handles a little differently. You are now able to choose a kart that suits your driving style exactly. The ratings of each kart are shown to you as you siphon through the choices of driver and kart. And speaking of drivers, each character has a special “move” that causes great damage to the people driving around you. For example, Bowser throws a huge spiky shell that wipes out most everything around it. The new additions and improvements to existing features really make Double Dash stand out from its predecessors.

Nintendo did an excellent job reviving an old favorite of many gamers. Even if you have never played a Mario Kart game before, you should give Double Dash a try. It is a fun, mildly challenging game, that people of all ages and gaming experience will enjoy. I am not saying it is easy, because it definitely had its moments of frustration. Mario Kart: Double Dash is a nice addition to the Cube family and worth a go around, a go-kart around. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Score: 5/5

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