Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (GCN): Does It Hold Up?
Mario Kart has always been about competitive fun with friends. There's nothing like racing against your buddies, bombarding each other with Koopa shells, and shouting obscenities at one another. The formula for Nintendo's beloved series was altered drastically in 2003 with the arrival of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! for the GameCube. While the competitive aspect that the series is known for remained intact, a new cooperative layer was added on top of all the crazy, joyous mayhem. As a result, the game was different from its series brethren but offered something so unique that it's still a complete blast to play.
By pairing two players together, Double Dash allows for cool team-ups between the game's mix of characters. This is especially important to consider given the fact that available characters have different special power-ups. Don't worry: The usual round of Koopa shells, banana peels, and fake item boxes is still available and deadly as ever, but you can also equip devastating Bob-ombs, giant Bowser shells, Chain Chomps, and Yoshi (or Birdo) eggs.
One player commandeers the kart while another handles the weapons. This adds a deliciously entertaining dynamic to the game that's unlike anything else in the series. The two can also switch off, so one player doesn't need to strictly drive while the other is relegated to shell-hurler status. It's actually quite impressive to think about how creative this idea was at the time for a kart racer, and since no one's really done it again (not even Nintendo), Double Dash is quite a beautiful anomaly in cooperative and competitive racing.
Obviously, the game's design makes it ideal for multiplayer. I mean, Mario Kart has always been about the multiplayer, but Double Dash is almost specifically suited for those individuals who have other folks to play with. Sure, you can play through the game's Grand Prix and Time Trial modes by yourself, but the real fun is in teaming up with a buddy and blazing through the competition. The fact that you have to verbally let each other know when you want to switch between driving and weapon management adds yet another cooperative element to the game.
Double Dash is one of the very few GameCube titles that supports LAN play. Lo and behold, this feature still works, granted you have a Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter and multiple GameCubes and TV sets. As previously mentioned, Mario Kart is better when played with multiple people, and the more players join in, the crazier the game gets. LAN play allows for up to 16 players to pair up and take each other on in competitive local races, making for a Mario Kart experience that's totally unique.
Graphics on the GameCube may not be as impressive as something like the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 (obviously), but Double Dash still looks pretty good. After all, this is a cartoony kart racer — you have to be daft to expect photorealism in a game like this. As it is, the colorful visuals of this racer get the job done and offer up a vibrant, candy-coated charm typical of the series. As for the sound, it's what you'd expect, which means characters repeat themselves a whole lot.
The verdict: Mario Kart: Double Dash!! holds up and gives you truly stellar co-op kart racing
Mario Kart is awesome because it's the type of game you have to play with others to fully enjoy, and it's accessible enough for anyone to just get into. It's also pretty hilarious on account of the crazy weapons-based kart racing chicanery that goes on between the ridiculous characters. Double Dash is particularly rad because it lets two players team up on a single kart and take on other teams. The result is the most unique installment in the series ever, one that's always fun to play and always better if you bring a few friends along.
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