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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Nintendo

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2003

 

 

- That old-time Mario Kart magic

- Great multiplayer game

- Very good tracks

- Simultaneous driver/passenger is a great addition

- Fun!

 

 

- Habit forming

 

 

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Mario Kart: Double-Dash

Score: 9.5 / 10

 

Some games you just don’t want to put down.  There’s something about them that keeps you coming back and Mario Kart: Double-Dash (DD) is one of those games.  It retains everything good about the previous Mario Kart titles while adding a few wrinkles that shows the maturity of the series and deepens the gameplay.

 

mario kart double dash          mario kart double dash

 

The standard Mario Kart features are here: a roster of Mario Universe characters race each other through a variety of Mario Environments, racing modes and three difficulty levels.  There is also a selection of multiplayer battles (besides the racing).  So what has changed?  What makes DD so fun?

 

For starters, the tracks are more refined and less frustrating than some of the N64 levels (like Bowser’s castle).  Donkey Kong’s level is a blast because it’s practically a downhill course – complete with tumbling boulders.  Most of the tracks aren’t particularly interactive, but there are still shortcuts to find and corners to master to keep things interesting.

 

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And in terms of variety, MP4 scores high.  There are games based on timing, luck, reflexes, button mashing, coordination, cooperation, path finding, and aim.  No complaints about the mini-games besides the fact you have to unlock them through the competition or story mode before being able to practice them.  There are more than 50 mini-games (including some hosted by Bowser) with an assortment of boards to conquer, including two run by a couple of Thwomps.

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The most noticeable refinement is the driver/passenger arrangement.  In DD you not only choose your driver but also your passenger (they can be changed on the fly).  On the most basic level this allows you to more effectively store power-ups.  It also opens the possibility of playing two-players simultaneously on the same kart, which ups the teamwork factor (and strategy) considerably.  As you play like this, you have to coordinate your movements during ever-important powerslides or just being able to pull along side an opponent and clobber them.

 

If you played any of the previous MK games you’ll have little problem getting used to the controls as they’ve remained largely unchanged.  Just as an example, my 4 ½ year-old son took about 15 minutes to get a handle on things and start to finish in the top 3 of the 50CC races. (DD is by no means an easy game – in the 150CC setting, you really have to be on top of your game or you’ll be nowhere near the podium.)  The controls are quick and solid – another MK hallmark.

 

mario kart double dash          mario kart double dash

 

Nintendo’s trademarked big bright graphics and up-tempo soundtrack are accounted for.  The animation is top-notch as is the detail of the characters.  The physics powering DD are very good for such a cartoony game – spin-outs, crashes, they all look great (especially when your passenger is hanging onto the bumper for dear life).

 

Above and beyond all that DD is fun!  Mario Kart: Double-Dash doesn’t stray far from what gamers have come to love about the series -- if it aint' broke, don't fix it -- but the added refinements make it a must-play title, particularly with friends.

 

- Omni

(February 15, 2004)

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