Mario Kart had seen releases on the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, and now it was time for Nintendo to release the newest edition to the kart racing series on the GameCube. Released in 2003, Mario Kart: Double Dash began the modern version of the racing series that we know today with the customization and tracks that we’ve grown to know. I’ve been critical of the first three releases of Mario Kart, would Double Dash be the first in the series to break away? We team up in this Mario Kart Double Dash review!
Mario Kart Double Dash Gameplay:
As I’ve done with the other Mario Kart games, I’ll take a look at the racers you can select. The character descriptions come from the manual and each racer is classified into a weight class that describes their racing style. The light class accelerates quickly and can turn well but is easily knocked around by other racers. Medium racers are good at everything but masters of none. Heavy racers accelerate slow but have the best top-end speed and can knock around others.
Mario – You know him, you love him – the one and only Mario! He’s returned to the Grand Prix with fireballs in hand. MEDIUM
Luigi – He’s lean, he’s not so mean, and his Fireballs are green! Everybody’s favorite brother is here, too! MEDIUM
When Mario or Luigi is in the back seat they can throw a special fireball.
Donkey Kong – Straight from the jungle, DK uses his simian strength to scare rivals. HEAVY
Diddy Kong – His charm is in his amazing tail. Donkey Kong convinced him to race in the Grand Prix.
Both DK and Diddy can throw a giant banana.
Princess Peach – Normally the epitome of grace, once she’s on the raceway, Princess Peach really tears it up. MEDIUM (she has always been a lightweight until now)
Princess Daisy – This is Princess Daisy’s first foray onto the speedways. She’s so cute she’s become something of an idol. MEDIUM
Peach and Daisy can use hearts to surround their karts. If any item hits the hearts it becomes theirs to use.
Bowser – Mario’s archnemesis. Will racing with his son make him behave better? HEAVY
Bowser Jr. – An energetic troublemaker who’s ready to drive out of his father’s shadow. LIGHT
The Bowsers can throw a giant spiked turtle shell.
Koopa – Usually a faithful underling of Bowser, it shows even the big boss no mercy during a race. LIGHT
Paratroopa – Paratroopa takes care of its wings even in the heat of the race. LIGHT
Koopa and Paratroopa can have triple the green or red shells.
Baby Mario – Mario but a baby…LIGHT
Baby Luigi – Luigi but a baby…LIGHT
These babies can unleash the Chain Chomp.
Yoshi – Taking a break from carrying Mario, Yoshi’s ready to burn up the courses. MEDIUM
Birdo – Birdo’s decked out in her favorite bow and ready to race! MEDIUM
Yoshi and Birdo can roll eggs at opponents and if they break they hatch three more items.
Wario – Wario’s ready to cruise in his purple pride and joy. Its top speed is over 280 MPH! But for the Mario Kart Grand Prix, its engine has been tuned down. HEAVY
Waluigi – Ever fond of sneaky, underhand attacks, he’s in his element when he’s armed with a bomb. MEDIUM
These two can throw bombs.
It was fun to mix and match racers together during my Mario Kart Double Dash review and there’s some strategy that goes into it with their weight classes. Like all the other Mario Karts, you’ll race through numerous courses hoping to place and score points for the overall standings. The tracks were my favorite by a long shot compared to the older Mario Kart games that I’ve reviewed before. It finally felt like a fully-capable 3D environment filled with obstacles and hazards. I know Mario Kart 64 is 3D but it had that awful rubberband effect that had the computer racer a second behind no matter how many weapons you tossed their way. Mario Kart Double Dash doesn’t suffer from that and that’s a huge victory for the game.
If you are tired of racing, you can select “battle mode”. This option brings back the balloon battles but also offers two other modes where you need to steal a star from each other and another where you chuck bombs. All three modes were super fun to play during my Mario Kart Double Dash review and I enjoyed doing those as much as the actual racing.
The presentation to Mario Kart Double Dash is better than before with detailed celebrations of the racers and the trophy being presented in front of a crowd of dancing humanoid things. Mario Kart Double Dash is the first in the series to offer customization to your karts where you can unlock new karts after winning cups. It adds a ton of replay value and it’s a feature that is heavily invested in the later games.
I remember first playing Mario Kart Double Dash in seventh grade at a birthday party. It was fun and if I recall correctly my first time actually playing a Mario Kart game as I had missed out on Mario Kart 64. I sucked at first but once I got the hang of it I was able to keep up with the rest of the kids at the party.
For my Mario Kart Double Dash review, I had my wife play through all the races with me. She’s pretty good at Mario Kart Double Dash but only because she has all the courses memorized and it’s her game! She beat me in most races and she took home the cup in all the Grand Prix, but I beat her on Rainbow Road and everyone knows that if you beat Rainbow Road, you are crowned the champion of the entire game. Sorry wife, better luck next time!
We also enjoyed the battle arenas during my Mario Kart Double Dash review and played through all of the versions that Double Dash had to offer. The final score was pretty close but we definitely unleashed some pretty bad cussing at each other, oops!
Mario Kart Double Dash Review Score:
Mario Kart Double Dash is the first Mario Kart game that I can say I enjoyed thoroughly. If you want to jump into the series, I suggest starting with this game. There’s tons of fun to be had on all courses and the environments really open up. Double Dash is what I was hoping Mario Kart 64 to be.
Mario Kart: Double Dash scores an 8.6 out of 10.
What would you write in your Mario Kart Double Dash review? Do you remember when Mario Kart: Double Dash first came out? What pair of racers do you select? What is your favorite course? How did you like the new racers? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments!