Developers(s) – Nintendo EAD
Publisher(s) – Nintendo
Director(s) – Kiyoshi Mizuki, Yasuyuki Oyagi, Futoshi Shirai & Daiji Imai
Producer(s) – Shigeru Miyamoto, Tadashi Sugiyama, Shinya Takahashi & Takashi Tezuka
The fourth instalment to the most successful spin-off series in video gaming history, Mario Kart: Double Dash provided gamers with a slightly different take on the kart racing genre, by adding the feature of having two characters to each kart allowing for more weapons to be held at any one given time, and also allowing for online play; though in a much limited capacity to what gamers of this day and age are accustomed to. Unfortunately however, I’ve never though as much of this game as many other entries in the franchise. It would be a choice for me between this and Super Circuit as the two main contenders for “the” worst game in the series, for a number of reasons.
Graphics – 5/10
One reason why I believe this game doesn’t match the quality of most other Mario Kart titles is because the visuals are not the best on the GameCube; either from a graphical or conceptual standpoint. The tracks are some of the worst in the series; even including my all-time least favourite track; Baby Park. Aside from that, it also had most probably the worst incarnation of Rainbow Road in the entire series. There are a select few tracks that stand out, but nowhere on the same levels as the track in entries such as Mario Kart 8, Wii or even 7.
Gameplay – 6/10
For the most part, the game plays out pretty much like any other Mario Kart game, and the addition of a second driver does make for an interesting twist in gameplay, since players can be at a disadvantage if the passenger falls off after taking too many hits from items. The problems are that most of the tracks in the game don’t necessarily make for a particularly gruelling challenge, in lieu of the series’ tradition, and hey also added something else, which has been a recurring thing in other Mario Kart games since, that I have never been a fan of; cannons. In some tracks, there are cannons that transport players from one area of the course to the other, and to me, it’s always been a sign of developers literally cutting corners.
Controls – 10/10
The best thing I can say about this game is that despite the introduction of new mechanics, it stays true to the classic Mario Kart formula, and consequently, there are no complications to address. The only problem that can be even vaguely associated with it is that the sound effects of switching drivers can become relentlessly repetitive.
Lifespan – 8/10
Completing each tournament on each class can take up to 5 to 6 hours, but after that, if players have access to the Internet via the GameCube, they can of course indulge in online play, which will add even more to the lifespan; an idea which in all fairness, I am pretty happy to have seen become a stable of the series. There is also a little bit more incentive added in the unlockable characters and unlockable cars; something else that would become a regular feature, much to my delight.
Storyline – N/A (10/10)
The Mario Kart series, has never had a story attached to it, and it never should, I don’t think. At this point especially, I believe that trying to add a story to a Mario Kart game would be a pretty bad move on Nintendo’s part, unless they can do it in such a way that it does nothing to hinder gameplay to any kind of extent. It worked particularly well in Diddy Kong Racing, so if Mario Kart were to ever become an open-world kart game, a story may work.
Originality – 3/10
As I’ve reiterated, Double Dash ultimately plays out like most other games in the series; only being much less enjoyable. It does have the one saving grace of having two characters to every one kart, but the cannons throughout a good few of the tracks in this series started off a trend, which I personally would rather have not seen started, making this game original, but for what are in my opinion, the wrong reasons.
To summarize, however, although Double Dash makes for a bad Mario Kart game, it doesn’t necessarily make for a bad game in general. It’s much more enjoyable than a fair few other sixth generation games released at the time, and it still beats any other generic racing game out there hands down.