Dash Dash

Double Dash is a lot more like Super Mario Kart for the SNES than Mario Kart 64, with some very noticable exceptions. So let’s get down to business.

Double Dash is the first Mario Kart game (that I know of) that allows for two characters to pilot the same vehicle. The player in the driver’s seat (obviously) steers the kart and works the gas and brakes, the person on the back is responsible for using the items and attacking the other racers. You can switch up the drivers at any time during the race, and since each one can hold an item, it makes for an interesting strategy.

There is no shortage of special items in Double Dash, either. In addition to the standard Green Shells, Red Shells, Mushrooms, Spiked Shells, and Lightning, each character has a special item that they can randomly get after running into the question blocks. These items are such things as the Mario Brothers’ fireballs to the Kongs’ Giant Angry Banana Peel ™ to the Bowsers’ ENORMOUS Spiked Shell, among others.

There are obvious teams in this game. On the character select screen, they are even laid out so that the team mates are on top of each other. Thankfully, though, you don’t have to pick the preformed teams if you don’t want to. You want to team up a heavy driver with a light copilot? Go right ahead. You want to be able to use Yoshi’s Giant Eggs and Daisy’s shield should you get some special items? Not a problem. Doing some quick math, there are over… a bunch of combinations of drivers that you can pick from. The weight of the drivers that you select will also determine the karts you have to choose from, further adding to the customization.

The characters themselves are definitely unique. There are similarities between teammates, but they all have some little quirk that distinguishes them from each other. Mostly it’s their voices. Everyone in the game has a few phrases that they say throughout the race. They all are appropriate to the character, and nothing sounds out of place. I do wish there were a little more variety to some of them, though. For instance, when you have Daisy in your team and you switch them up so that Daisy is on the back she says, “Hi, I’m Daisy!” Every time. Whenever she takes her victory lap, “Hi, I’m Daisy!” This is only a minor problem, really, and then only for the characters that use actual words when you play as them. I’m sure Koopa Troopa is yelling, “Koopa is the greatest EVAR!” when he wins, but he’s doing it in some Koopa language that sounds to me like grunts, clicks, and whistles.

The courses in the game are distinct and varied. No two courses are quite the same. You will be racing on such locations as Sherbet Island, a volcano, an island shaped like Yoshi, a cruise ship, a highway (with traffic, of course), etc.

The game itself plays very well. If you are controlling the kart by yourself, you are responsible for using the items to knock other players around and keeping your kart on the road. If you have two players per kart, one person controls the driving and the other one controls the tossing of the items. With two players, you can also perform some enigmatic move called the ‘Double Dash.’ I assume it’s a maneuver to gain speed around a curve (like the Mini-Dash) but one that requires two people to pull off. That move and item usage force a kind of cooperative gameplay that, for Mario Kart, is interesting at the very least.

All the standard Mario Kart modes are here. There’s the Grand Prix mode, the Vs. Race, and Battle mode. Grand Prix mode and Vs. mode are pretty standard. If you’ve played those modes on any other Mario Kart game, then you know what to expect, so I’m not going to go into any detail here. The Battle mode is what is probably the most different from the other Mario Kart games in that there are three battle modes instead if the old ‘break three baloons’ mode (not that the ‘break three baloons’ mode is bad by any stretch). The new modes are, essentially, Grab the Shine and Run, and Bob-ombs of Fury (they are probably called something better than that, but I can’t remember what they actually are). In Steal the Shine and run you grab the single Shine and have to hold onto it until time counts down to zero. If you get hit, you drop the Shine. Interesting game. The other one, which I found a little more fun was Bob-ombs of Fury. In that mode, all the weapons are Bob-ombs. If you hit another player you get one of their points, if they don’t have any points, then you just get a point. First team to three points wins. Very interesting and fast paced mode.

There are apparently several unlockables in the game. The only ones that I’ve seen so far are some new karts and a new Battle Mode arena (A Mario Kart game with 5{or more} Battle Mode maps? Insanity!)

We didn’t get the chance to fiddle with the LAN featurs of this game since between everyone that was playing the game we had one copy of the game and zero broadband adapters. Although I can imagine the chatter in the room once you get four people per GameCube (two per kart) all trying to coordinate each other’s actions without giving too much away to your opponents. This game might turn into almost as big a party game as Mario Party 5.

“Is there anything wrong with this game?” I hear you asking me. There are only two things that I didn’t like about it: It would have been nice if there were more voice samples for the characters that speak English, and there is no longer a jump button. The L and R buttons still execute the Power Slide, but the karts don’t hop any more. I liked being able to hop over a Red Shell at the last second and send it careening into the barricade, but I can’t do that any more (I’m not so sure I could still pull that off on the SNES version).

Overall, I like this game. It’s worth a rental at the very least. The problems that I mentioned are minor, and if you haven’t played the other Mario Kart games, not being able to hop won’t even bother you.