"When the first shots of Double Dash were released to the world, it looked as if it was going to add something fresh and inspiring to an often tired out genre. The premise of having two drivers and the usual Mario Kart craziness was a sure selling point. I tend to dislike most racing games due to their dull drag down to realism. If I’m going to play a racing game, it’s going to have something that allows me to shoot down other racers with over the top weaponry, move through creative courses at ..."
When the first shots of Double Dash were released to the world, it looked as if it was going to add something fresh and inspiring to an often tired out genre. The premise of having two drivers and the usual Mario Kart craziness was a sure selling point. I tend to dislike most racing games due to their dull drag down to realism. If I’m going to play a racing game, it’s going to have something that allows me to shoot down other racers with over the top weaponry, move through creative courses at breakneck speed and have some fun with three other friends. Double Dash has all three, with some minor setbacks.
The game’s selling point is the fact that each kart can hold two drivers. It’s a rather innovative concept but all it does is divide up the usual Mario Kart tasks between two players. The driver is in full control of the kart while the backseat rider can only use the power ups that you collect during races. This “revolutionary” addition doesn’t really do anything aside from create a rather mundane two player co-op mode. Here, one player controls the kart and the less fortunate second player uses the power ups that you collect during the race (which occurs two times per lap max.) Double Dash’s main innovation, its new addition to the genre falls flat on its face. It attempts to add a sense of variation but all it does is produce a similar feel of the last game.
Fans will be happy to notice that a whole new bunch of characters have been added to the roster, along with some obvious character comebacks. Since the theme here is two per kart, every character has a partner that they tend to race with. Old favourites have brought new partners to the roster, Princess Toadstool has Daisy, Bowser brought his son who featured in Mario Sunshine, Birdo from SMB2 makes a welcome appearance as Yoshi’s partner and Wario has brought his less-impressive brother, Waluigi (Nintendo, the joke doesn’t work if you just slap “Wa” in front of it.) We also still have the weight class system that affects the speed and the control of certain characters only it’s lowered down to the types of kart you can use. Koopa Troopa and Para-Troopa only use their shell kart or Baby Mario’s pram while heavier characters like Bowser and Wario can only use bigger karts. DD also has four hidden characters to unlock by completing various challenges, like completing the Star cup on 100cc. The locked characters include some old favourites like Toad and King Boo as well as the minor Mario Sunshine villain, Petey Piranha.
As always, Mario Kart’s courses are rather creative and amusing. They are divided into the four classic styles of cups: mushroom, flower, star and special. One throws you on a highway packed with heavy traffic including a large Wiggler train. Another takes you on a familiar route through Gelato beach, packed with those annoying duck things that flip you up when you drive past. Some more unusual stages include Baby Park, which is a mini track with seven laps and DK Mountain, which has a huge volcano that blasts you to the other end of the track. The Special Cup, available when all three others are won, holds the key to the most intense stages. Behold: the spiky chaotic death trap of Wario Coliseum, the fiery inferno of Bowser’s castle and the magically captivating Rainbow Road. This classic track returns to frustrate you with its lack of barriers and (shamefully) electric thwomps. However, it makes up for it with break neck speed and mercilessly tight corners.
Powers ups can be collected during the race and can be doubled so both characters can carry an item. The basic Mario Kart items like bananas, shells and power stars are available for you to use as well as the newly added character specials. Mario and Luigi can throw out multiple fireballs that sweep across the track, scorching anyone they touch. Bowser can summon an enormous shell that rolls across the track, knocking out anyone in the way. Some specials aren’t just based on normal power ups; some are brand new moves that have never graced your eyes before. The two babies can summon a large Chain Chomp to drag their kart through the track, battering other drivers. Yoshi can lay an egg that bursts lots of goodies all over the track, allowing other drivers to savour some success and Wario completely devastates the track by unleashing one huge bomb blast that takes out a huge chunk of the court.
Mario Kart: Double Dash is a great cheap purchase if your Gamecube has been left alone for a while. It’s a solid racing game that most Mario Kart fans will enjoy, although not to the extent that they enjoyed SMK or MK64. The way it pimps up this “Team up for twice the fun” malarkey is a little ironic, considering just how useless this new scheme is. If it weren’t for the creative and enjoyable courses and the new individual item system, it would’ve been a rather dull flop. Yes, it has all of the three concepts I was looking for originally but it’s failure to back up what its bragged about is a little disappointing and rather humorous.
Community review by goldenvortex (October 18, 2005)
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