The Nintendo Gamecube lacked a large library of titles, but had quite a few gems nonetheless. One of the more bankable genres on the system came in the form of sports. No, I don’t mean your Madden titles, your All Star Baseball games, or your traditional sports simulations. I mean the over the top, arcade sports games starting Mario and the gang. Although the Mario Kart racing series was conceived during the 16 bit era, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! on the Nintendo Gamecube refined and defined how all kart games should be.
The biggest addition to the franchise came in the form of a two manned kart. Depending on your combination of racers (lightweights, middle and fattys) you’ll have different karts to choose from. Not only that, but you can “tag” out and swap positions with your partner, which will allow you to pick up a second power up dedicated to that character. So you can possibly get two three packs of mushrooms and catch up to whomever is ahead of you. There’s a bit more depth with this new mechanic, and its an excellent addition to the series, which unfortunately was removed for the Nintendo Wii installment.
Most everything else is what you’ve come to love from the Mario Kart series – excellent controls, creative power ups and exciting stages. The characters and stages all look colorful, very detailed and well thought out. The music is simple, MIDI quality, but fits in well enough, and the sound effects blended great voice bytes with some clear, familiar crashes and thuds. No matter what kart you are driving, the handling felt spot on, with the button layout perfectly set, turbo boosting a cinch and absolutely no time where you feel like you’re not in control of your vehicle. Multiplayer is an absolute blast as always, with the same amount of chaos as previous multiplayer Mario Kart bouts.
Which in a way, leads to one of the two problems I have with Double Dash — despite the innovations with the two manned karts, it’s the same core game. Since the formula is still flawless, its not really a deterrent, but there were no other pushes to advance the series outside the two person karts. The other issue I have is how easy the game is, even on 150cc. It’s much easier than any of the other Mario Kart games I’ve played on 150cc, mirror mode or not. Even after a long absence from the game, I felt like I hadn’t missed a beat. Regardless, Mario Kart Double Dash!! stands as one of the greatest kart games you could ever play. With excellent controls, killer tracks, slightly altered gameplay and tons of replay value, you won’t find a better kart racing title on any system.