Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is the latest sequel to the best kart racing series on any console. This time Mario and company have made some serious changes to the tried and true racing format. Gone are the days of racing solo; in are the days of choosing two of your favorite characters, for a tandem that just canï¿½t be beat. The roster has also been substantially increased, and you may also choose your very own favorite kart. Of course the best part of the Mario Kart series has always been multi-player and this time, with the help of a few televisions, and broadband adapters you can play up to 8 players simultaneously. Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is a great multi-player game and is a must have for fans of the series as well as casual gamers.
The first thing youï¿½ll notice when you pop Mario Kart: Double Dash!! (MKDD) into your GameCube is that the graphics are lush, beautifully detailed and very colorful. Scenery goes whizzing by as you race and the environments are huge. Youï¿½ll probably find yourself crashing more than once as you look at various objects moving in the background. The animation is smooth and each character has their own trademark look. Better still are all the details that went into making this game. When you are struck by certain objects one of your characters will hang on for dear life by his fingertips as the other character starts to drive off frantically. Itï¿½s those details that make a gamer feel like theyï¿½re playing a game that is complete and fully thought through from beginning to end.
Fans of the first two Mario Kartï¿½s will notice that a lot of the original sound effects have returned slightly modified for the GameCubeï¿½s audio capabilities. All the voices are here and in typical fashion sound great. Music is appropriate for every course, as the beach races have an island feel to them, and the jungle races are heavy on drums and so on and so forth. All in all there really isnï¿½t much to the sound of MKDD, as you probably wouldnï¿½t be able to hear it over all the trash talking between you and three of your friends anyway, but what there is is solid and since races are over relatively fast the music never gets too grating.
In a game with more twists and turns than a bag of pretzels, control is key, and the controls in Mario Kart Double Dash!! are tighter than a drum. Executing power slides and the turbo boosts that result from them are a breeze for veterans of the series as well as newcomers. Of course the biggest change to this title is the addition of another character to race with. This adds an element of strategy to the game that was previously missing.
Also, this time out you can choose a kart depending on the size of your characters. Who you choose and what you choose to drive have a big impact on how you race. For example, if you choose two of the smaller characters in the smallest kart you will often find yourself being pushed about by the larger karts. The individual characters donï¿½t make a difference as far as strength or size is concerned, but they do differ in the types of items they pick up. Certain characters have their own special item pickups that they can then use on the rest of the pack, so carefully choosing characters is a must. Switching between your two racers is also part of the new strategy, as you head for the home stretch trailing the leader you want to ensure that you pick up an item that is beneficial to your success as opposed to something that just wonï¿½t help at all.
Lastly, you can now steal your opponentsï¿½ items by sliding into them, bumping into them while using a mushroom, or running them down when using a star. Jockeying for items while racing is one of the biggest differences (aside from the addition of another character to your kart) because you will probably no longer have the chance of hanging on to that special item for practically the entire race only to use it at the very end. This is the main reason MKDD succeeds where others fail, itï¿½s not just a racing game where you can go crazy with items and just end up winning, strategy is key to victory and careful planning with every item use is crucial. Plus, take some of the most beloved characters, mix in some furious multiplayer mayhem and youï¿½ve got a recipe for success.
Mario Kart has always been a multiplayer game, but Double Dash has added Local Area Network (LAN) support for those fortunate few with broadband adapters, multiple GameCubeï¿½s and television sets. So, now you can have a full tournament with every single one of your friends, that is, if you have those aforementioned items. Now, some people have managed to get this game online enabled via some software trickery, so you can play opponents online using your broadband adapter, but itï¿½s still not what it could have been if Nintendo were to take a better stance towards online gaming. This is one of those cases where this game has to be online and has to be broadband due to its speed, but to alienate those willing to go all out just to get their race on is just plain bad. Aside from the straightforward race, three other multiplayer modes are here including: Balloon Battle, Shine Thief, and Bob-Omb Blast. Theyï¿½re all here for your multiplayer enjoyment.
Fans of the series will no doubt love this newest edition of Mario Kart; non-fans however, will find in essence, the same game. Non-fans couldnï¿½t be further from the truth, though, this isnï¿½t your Nintendo 64ï¿½s Mario Kart. This is a new thinking manï¿½s Mario Kart, hanging out in last place for two-thirds of the race and counting on some cheap items to use on your opponents alone isnï¿½t going to cut it anymore. This new infusion of strategy is definitely the best thing going for this game. The worst thing, then, would have to be the fact that there is no online play. A beefed up new roster of characters, with special unique items is also a plus. As are, the hefty amount of unlockable characters, karts and race courses. Unfortunately, the bulk of the game can probably be finished by a good gamer in a weekend of play. That said, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is a must have for anyone interested in a great multiplayer game for their GameCube.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is about as good as kart racing gets on any console, and fans of the Mario Kart series will not be disappointed when they pick up this game. Anyone looking for a good game to play with friends or family should definitely pick up this game, as it is an instant classic. If youï¿½re in need of a game to relieve you of that extra cash that has been building in your wallet, look no further than Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
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