Mario Kart: Double Dash (GameCube) Preview

By 22.06.2003

With this being the 4th instalment in the Mario Kart series can it live up to its predecessors? It has a lot to live up to when compared with past Mario Kart games such as the SNES original Super Mario Kart, the latest, and in many gamers eye's the best, that being Super Circuit that have all had massive sales success and have been amazing games. Then there was the Nintendo 64 version, that being Mario Kart 64, but the question is, after the slight disappointment of Mario Kart 64 can Mario Kart: Double Dash's radical new additions make it the best?

Well to cut to the chase, the most striking addition in Double Dash is obviously the ability to have two characters on the kart. The possibilities of this change the game quite a lot and we think for the better, basically this involves you teaming up with a character of choice and taking to the track for some team racing, pressing Z to switch between the characters in the kart. The character on the back of the kart is can only use weapons, the character at the front, obviously drives, but you do have the ability to pick up weapons with both meaning you can use tactics on which weapon you want to use adding yet more fresh air to the game. While one player can control the driver, the other can control the weapons. If in the standard one player mode you would have to flick between characters in order to race. This may sound confusing but this is Nintendo for you, you just know it will work and you know it will work well, Nintendo just wouldn't ruin a massive franchise such as this which could potentially boost the Gamecube that extra edge it has been looking for to finally break away from the XBOX and the horrible third place position that the Gamecube that is in now for good.

Screenshot for Mario Kart: Double Dash on GameCube

The one player department has always been extremely fun even if after completing all the championships on all difficulties but it does get repetitive sometimes which is why Nintendo are taking note on this factor and are promising numerous improvements such as additional modes and gameplay tweaks, mainly the switching between characters. So what can you expect to be on offer in the latest edition of the world's best racer? Well along with the standard 3 championships, whole new multiplayer modes that will now showcase the switch player option and the traditional battle modes we can expect or maybe hope for much better AI and more weapons, we don't want more of the same like Mario Kart 64 that offered nothing but a super graphical update of the SNES Mario Kart.

A few other improvements to the game have been added such as the addition of new characters such as Peach's sister, Daisy previously seen in Mario Golf and the Mario Party series. Also along with Daisy we can give a warm welcome return to Koopa Troopa, the fastest, although the hardest to control character of the SNES classic. Not to forget his partner in crime Koopa Paratroopa. Also, something else in the game that the Nintendo 64 version missed out on is the ability to collect special gold coins. These were a good part of the game as they improved the karts manoeuvrability, speed, acceleration and much more. This balances out the Karts abilities and makes the races easier to win, this is an element of the SNES and GBA Mario Kart games that we think everybody would love to see return. Collecting the coins gives the kart all the speed of Toad and the manoeuvrability of Wario making for an unstoppable racer.

Screenshot for Mario Kart: Double Dash on GameCube

So as you can tell by the words so far, you ask, why are we looking forward so much to Mario Kart on the Gamecube? Well the series has always offered some of the best gameplay seen in any racer. Each character has unique abilities such as Bowser's unmatchable grip to the track to Koopa's sheer speed on the straights. Although we advise using Mario if you're a beginner as he has the most balanced ability range making for an easy to control, fairly fast racer. The imaginative weapons that have always had a major part in this game working its way up the ladder to the dizzy heights of the 90% plus. The weapons range from lightning that turns all your opponents tiny, tiny enough to drive over to the classic Donkey Kong bananas that will get caught in the Kart wheels and cause the kart to spin everywhere. All this makes for frantic playing, after a few games of this on multiplayer the pad will literally be slipping out your hand, and now with the ability for LAN (local area network) play you won't have any excuse for missing out on the multiplayer delights. As for the tracks themselves, well they are a vast improvement over their Nintendo 64 predecessors, not only in the graphical style but also in the actual look of the tracks. They are much more varied and are shorter than some of the Nintendo 64 tracks which were a bit long and gave the game a bit of a disadvantage. They are crammed full with unique features that make each track feel like a totally different track to the last providing for a more varied game.

Expect the 4-player frenzy to be even more fun than in the past Mario Kart games with the new changing between characters and weapons along with the whole load of other new features Nintendo are promising to add more depth to the gameplay. As for past modes coming back well, I would bet very heavily on the brilliant Battle Mode making a return to Double Dash for more exhilarating, balloon popping mayhem! How the switching between characters will affect this is totally up to Nintendo. The gameplay in all the previous Mario Kart games is what made them so highly acclaimed, it's definitely what got them to where they are now. The controls are very simple, Mario Kart has always been a game which has been easy to pick up and play but with the inclusion of the switching between characters this could be changed quite a lot for the game. We hope the basic control system concept will remain the same though. If you want a relax from the high speed crashes of Burnout and its sequel get this, if you don't want a relax from it get Mario Kart anyway, it will hold its own as one of the best racers on any of the 3 current consoles, if not the best, maybe with the exception of F-Zero GX.

Screenshot for Mario Kart: Double Dash on GameCube

As we mentioned earlier, the graphics are a vast improvement over all of the Mario Kart games and put up against almost any racer. The visuals are simply amazing, they are like nothing else, the level of detail on the tracks is in its own league and the actual karts look very impressive indeed. They aren't just normal karts as seen in the previous Mario kart games but are personalised to each character. Each one is totally different, as you could imagine, Donkey Kong's kart is basically just a barrel on wheels, Mario's is a cool looking red buggy like kart and Koopa's kart is made up of Koopa shells. The detail is to a very high standard, each kart perfectly individual and unique. The graphics in general are all perfectly smoothed off and polished. They are very nice, some of the best yet seen on the Gamecube. Expect this game to be something special indeed.

Screenshot for Mario Kart: Double Dash on GameCube

Final Thoughts

This title promises to be one of the Gamecube's biggest hits of this year along with the likes of XIII, 1080' Avalanche, Mario 128 and Pikmin 2. The classic gameplay elements along with the radical new switch character options should give a fresh game for everybody that offers a lot more modes to keep you playing by yourself than the 1 player did in the Nintendo 64. Seeing how this game develops further will be very interesting as Nintendo start to give off more and more details on what is set to be one of the best games of the year.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (16 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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