A Bold Idea, Well Overdue
With very few installments over the years before Double Dash, Mario Kart is still one of the most recognizable and most anticipated titles to be released each time a new platform is released. The early demos of Double Dash frightened old players by being another Gamecube title to take an old franchise in a very new direction. What came out, however was one of the most exciting multiplayer experiences of the generation.
The standard options are available, ofcourse, Gran Prix, Battle, Time Attack. Many mechanics return, such as collecting items off of the track and competing for the most points out of 4 races. The new mechanic most central to the game, is ofcourse the introduction of co-op mode. Two players ride in one car, with one controlling items and the other controlling steering. The game can also be played with one player controlling both. Concerns that this may complicate the traditionally fun and simple series aren't necessary though, it's just as simple as any other entry.
Items are collected either in traditional single boxes, or in a double box, which provides both characters with an item. Characters are switched with the touch of a button, switching items. New items include Bullet Bill, which turns your cart into the bullet itself, which drives itself along the course, knocking other drivers out of the way for a short time, or the Bob-Omb, a thrown item that knocks over drivers in a large area. Each pair of characters has a unique 'Special' item, for example Mario and Luigi get fireballs.
The character roster is greatly improved, as is the vehicle roster, which was always just the standard car. More characters, cars and modes are unlocked throught GrandPrix play, with 1 or 2 players. The obligatory Mirror Mode returns, and for the first time ever, the All Cup Tour is presented, allowing all the cups to be played in one large GP. Battle Mode returns with the standard balloon-bursting game, as well as Shine Stealer, where players are awarded points for holding onto the Star as long as possible, and expected to knock it off of one another. The final game is an all-out war with Bob-Ombs being the only available item. Usually ends very quickly!
It may not cater to the nostalgic feel of Mario Kart 64 or the original SNES installment, but Double Dash breathed precious new life into the series. The Double-Mode hasn't returned in the installments released since this one, so if you need a fun multiplayer game, and have a Gamecube or Wii, consider Mario Kart: Double Dash.