Some people worship Zelda, some can’t live without Final Fantasy, others just can’t get enough of a certain spiky blue hedgehog. For me, the gaming series that I could happily play for the rest of my life is the Mario Kart legacy. And here we go again. Mario and his chums return for the latest event in the Mario Grand Prix calendar, Mario Kart Double Dash!!, on the Nintendo GameCube.
GAMEPLAY – 5/5
Where the hell do I start with this one? Every single Mario Kart game has been an absolute delight to play, and this latest instalment is no different. From the moment you power up your ‘Cube, you know you’re in for a real treat. Taking Yoshi out with a red shell on the final corner of the final lap, as you soar in to take the win, is as enjoyable as it has always been.
Obviously, this being called “Double Dash”, the biggest gameplay difference from it’s predecessors is that you now have two characters in one kart, one responsible for the driving duties, and the other riding shotgun at the back, taking control of the weaponry on offer. You can switch the characters around at any point in the race with a simple push of the Z-button, and this feature works quite well as each of the characters can both collect items, and so switching them around to use the right item at the right time is essential.
Apart from that, there have been a few minor tweaks, which make this version more playable than the 64 version. Firstly, I found that the green shells appear to be much more accurate to use than before, making far less of a useless item than they perhaps used to be. As I mentioned, each character can pick up an individual item now, too, such as Mario’s fireball attack, which adds to the variety of the game slightly.
Before I move onto the next category, I just want to mention that, with the exception of the tiresome Rainbow Road, every track on MKDD!! is designed superbly, and will never grow old.
GRAPHICS – 4/5
The beautifully coloured, cartoon-style graphics make MKDD!! instantly recognisable as a Mario game. The detail on each of the tracks is superb, and you’ll soon be recognising buildings and the like from the Mario kingdom. The character models are what we’ve come to expect, highly detailed also, and well animated. Whilst MKDD!! was never going to push the graphical boundaries of the GameCube, as, say Metroid Prime did, they managed to impress in their own way.
SOUND – 4/5
As with the Graphics, the best way to describe the sound and music in this game would be “typically Mario”. Each of the sound effects in the game, you’ll of heard a million times before. But you’ll be equally happy to hear them for the next million times, too! A special mention must go to the Nintendo boot-up screen, where you just hear Mario cry “Niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiintendo”!
ADDICTION – 5/5
Now this is what Mario Kart is all about. I don’t know about you lot, but to this very day, I still play Mario Kart 64, some 5 or 6 years after its release. Now I’ve only had MKDD!! for a few days, but already it is evident that this version is no different to *all* of the Mario Kart games. The multiplayer game is, as predicted, superb. Obviously, you’ve got your VS mode, where 4 people (up to 8 now, too, thanks to LAN) can race against each other, but the biggest multiplayer improvement comes in the form of the battle mode. Not only do you have your regular “3-ballon” battle game, but you now get a Shine Get! mode, where you have to chase after the Shine (as featured in Mario Sunshine), and also a mode where you just chuck bombs at each other! Little things, but it all adds to the length of the game.
I’ll obviously update this part of the review as time passes, but I’ll put any money in the world on the fact that I’ll still be playing this game in 6 months, and then in 6 years. Genius.
OVERALL – 4.5/5
Another game of sheer brilliance from Nintendo. I was waiting a long long time for this one, and it really is the reason I held onto my GameCube. And boy am I glad I did. The days of playing Mario Kart 64 multiplayer for hours upon hours a day are back. Only better.
- Awesome track design
- Improved weaponry
- Loads more characters
- Best multiplayer you’ll ever play
- Rainbow Road is STILL there!
- What did they do with the jump button?!