Guest review by: Geoff Osman
Nintendo was intending on making a new Mario Kart game soon after the success of Mario Kart 64, but wanted new hardware to be able to bring it a new feeling of life. Nintendo’s GameCube was the hardware they were waiting for, so they decided to give Mario Kart a new look along with some new twists. Some of these new twists are great assets to the game, while others just drop it significantly.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! for the Nintendo GameCube is the latest installment to the quirky little Nintendo racing genre. There are some things that set this game apart from its predecessors, and I’ll focus on the good first.
The new Mario Kart now puts two characters on one kart. Each character has a specific weight, light/medium/heavy, and you can mix and match any pairings. This allows for great flexibility. Lightweights have a high acceleration, but heavyweights are more stable on the course. Having different weights on different parts of the kart can also change things up; for instance, if you have a lightweight driving with a heavyweight in the back, be ready to be swerving a lot because your weight is in the back of the kart. Each character has their own special ability as well. Bowser and Bowser Jr. have giant spiked Bowser shells that slam everything in its wake while Baby Mario and Baby Luigi have an enormous Chomp Chomp that drags them across the track, eating everything in its path. You can combine characters for unique combinations of specials that help with strategy in racing.
The racing is really easy to learn, just like the old games, and its a lot of fun. There are still four different cups (Mushroom/Flower/Star/Special) and three different difficulties (50/100/150). The AI as you get into the 150 difficulty takes a huge leap up and is rather challenging, and I like that. The old jump was replaced with a newer and, in my opinion, improved slide technique. Just as in the old 64 game you can charge this slide up to give you a boost. In fact, I’ve become all about those blue sparks that you make at full charge. This is a great party game for the masses to play, and it even supports LAN hookup where 16 people can play — 2 per kart. This alone makes it a must have for those partiers with a ‘Cube. Co-op is a new and great feature that takes tons of teamwork. This is a feature that needs to be kept because it adds a whole new element to the game and may just be its greatest asset.
Now for the bad news. The graphics make this game look like a bunch of wax figurines….. I’m not into that. Plus some of the voices are plain annoying. Sure it was fun to hear Baby Mario go “Weeeee!” as his Chomp Chomp passed you going “Chomp Chomp Chomp”, but it gets old… fast. And also if I hear Daisy say “Hi I’m Daisy!” as she passes me one last time I will flip out! Remember how awesome battle was in Mario Kart 64? That sure was a lot of fun, wasn’t it? Well it’s here in Double Dash…. and it sucks!!! The adrenaline rush you got in battle on the 64 version just isn’t here in the new one, even with its three different types of battle modes. There are four standard battle tracks, and all of them feel like they were made half-assed. There is a cookie level where you drive around on a cookie, which is obviously a rip-off of Big Dounut. You can’t even fall in the middle. The new Block City is, guess what, one freakin’ floor. There aren’t any arenas to go up or down on and it’s just so bland. I could go on but let me tell you flat out: the new battle mode is a waste of time and it plain blows. Now for my problem with the karts. Sure, they look cool, but this was a go-kart game… what happened to the go-karts?!?! They thought it would be neat to give every character their own unique car, and it feels more like Mario Soapbox Derby than a Mario Kart game.
All in all, this is one hell of a fun racer, and it is even more fun the more people you have. The racing is an improvement from 64 but the battle is a major step down. Bring back the old go-karts and the same intense, fun battle, and this game will be back into its prime.