Review by You Apple

"3 2 1... Go!"

We all knew it wouldn't be too long before Mario Kart was introduced to this generation of console gaming, and here it arrives in the shining form of Mario Kart: Double Dash!! But what can we expect from a game that has already had three previous incarnations? More of the same or something completely different?

Gameplay [9/10]: This is the MK we (probably) remember, pretty much. For those of you who are 5 years old/blind/stupid/badgers, Mario Kart is a simple 8-car racer where you play as various well known (and not as well known) Mario characters, whizzing round Mario themed tracks, chucking Mario themed weapons (the Nok Nok shell being the most popular, somewhat pradictably. But where's the DK hammer eh!?). This time round, however, the key change is that two characters ride on a carefully crafted kart, be it a barrel-based car with Donkey Kong's initials branded on the front or a trundling pram for Baby Mario and his brother. A pointless idea? Not on your nelly, sunshine. While one character drives, the other clings to the back of the kart and lobs banana peels and whatnot at the other players. You can then switch the characters so the chap who was once the weapon carrier can ''hold back'' a weapon for reserve while he drives, and the once-driver can now be on the look put for new things to fire. On top of this, you can run a co-op mode that allows two humans to be on the same kart, switching positions when they see fit. Of course, it doesn't have to be happy families, as you can instead dual against your mates in seperate karts or face to face in a battle arena through the medium that is multi-player. We'll come to that later though, eh.
The bredth of the new Mario Kart game is subtly larger than Mario Kart 64. While it has the same amount of tracks in the main game, there are far more options for said tracks and plenty of new things to unlock, like various karts, characters, and battle arenas, which adds a hankering to play single player just that little bit more; something that was lacking a bit in the previous games. A problem, however, is the fact that many of the tracks seem very similar to those in Mario 64, in appearance and layout. When I saw a demo of the game in a shop, I actually thought they had just re-made MK64 with better graphics. There are tracks that resemble Luigi's Circuit, Toad's Turnpike, and others... there is a Rainbow Road, but that is tradition, and nobody likes to break tradition. Except maybe crazy people, and Madonna. Same thing.
The multi-player feature is the key attraction to the game. The racing is good, but the battle gaming is fun-er (it's a word, dammit). Fairly OK-ish maps are made up for by the introduction of two new battle modes, one being like Capture the Flag (but with a shine-sprite) and the other being what can only be described as a full-blown-bob-omb-hurling-aaaaaaaaaaargh-a-thon (IT'S A WORD DAMMIT!).
This is (I think) the first Gamecube game to allow LAN gaming, which means you can connect up as many as eight 'cubes to play with up to (wait for it) SIXTEEN people. Don't get too excited though, it's gonna cost you. You'll need the eight 'cubes first, and 16 controllers. Perhaps not so hard (or is it) if you have 7 other mates with the hardware. You'll also need 8 copies of the game. And 8 television sets. Don't scurry off yet. You still need some sort of HUB thingie (sorry to get all technical on you there) and a plethora of wires and broadband adapters. And thats it. So basically, wait for organised sessions with pre-booked halls and everything.
OK, hold on, I'm being negative. Thats the gear you need for a full blown Mario Kart gametastic gameathon. You can make do with 2 cubes, 2 TV's and 2 copies of the game with all the controllers and wires and still have 8 players, which is what really matters. I mean, 2 players on one TV is enough to entertain for hours. But enough technical details! Is the bloody thing FUN?
The short answer is yes. But. It's all about how much you can take. Whether you play alone or with friends, the very fine line between storming in at 1st place and getting twunted by a bob-omb at the end of the last race of the Special cup at 150CC's, putting you from 1st to 4th overall (I've been there) can put you either in a grinning frenzy of self-praising or a controller-shaped hole through your window. However, when you calm down, you can appreciate the original tracks, amusing characters (Hi, I'm Daisy) and Mario refrences. And such and such.

Controls [6/10]: The controls are easy to pick up on; they are simple, and remain true to most racing games (A to accelerate, B to brake. That's why they were named ''A'' and ''B''. No wait, thats a load of balls), and few buttons even need to be used. However, that doesn't mean that they are fantastic. While it's easy enough to steer, accelerating can become a cumbersome task as your thumb slowly crumbles into bone-dust due to the constant clamping of the A button. Then you also have to dislocate your fingers to reach the much-scowled at Z button every time you wish to switch your karters. Then there's the turbo slide. There's just something about it I don't like. It doesn't really seem to help that much, it drains your speed, and there's no little jump-ette for you to perform, which is arsey. Still though, it's probably the best way of doing it.

Story [erm.]: Well, what can you expect from a racing game like this? That's right, nowt. Nothing. Sweet F.A. However, this is made up for my the refrences to Mario throughout the game. The awards ceremony takes place in Delfino Plaza, for example. It's like an add-on to Mario Sunshine in a way. Piantas and Nokis cheer from the sideline while those weird spherical bird things from that beach level in SMS try to sproing you into the air. Grr.

Graphics [10/10]: The graphics in this game are breathtaking. The sheer breathtakingness of it removes further amounts of breath, making you some sort of airtight, skin-based husk. Kinda. What I'm saying is, the graphics work well. They go smoothly even as you boom through the air at 200mph out of a giant DK barrel, and the backgrounds make what is potentially an wiggly line of road into something so much more. The pain of falling of the Rainbow Road is softened somewhat by the huge, fully 3-d lit-up city down below.

Sound [5/10]: Sound, on the other hand, can be a bit of a chore. Each character has a limited number of phrases (most of which are oooaoaoaoooaoaoa) which do get irritating when you're breaking a sweat in persuit of Daisy (irritating woman) and Birdo (irritating), while steaming past the Koopa Troopers (irritating irritating). Thankfully there are sound options, so that's that. As for the music, well it's OK. It doesn't annoy, it fits nicely into the background, like it should. Much better than an empty void of non-music like there was in Battle mode on the N64.

Replay Value [10/10]: Single Player is reasonable in size. Not huge- yes, there are unlockables for it, but (without spoiling things too much), it's mostly a mish-mash of stuff you've already done, making it a bit cheap. But who buys a racing game just for single player? Answer: A crazy sweaty man who runs through town wearing only a scruffy tie, all covered in baked beans and some sort of white li... erm. What I'm saying is, multiplayer multiplayer multiplayer. The choices are so great, you don't get that feeling of repetativeness that you get with single player.


OK then. My final word here is, if you own a cube, and if you own some friends, then you need to own this game. Even if you aren't a racer fan. I personally can't stand racing games, with MK:DD as an exception, what with it's Nintendoeyness (IT'S... A... WORD!!!), it's bizarre tracks, it's clever weapon system and it's party-game feel.
Also, say you get home from the pub with some mates one night and fancy one of those good old drunken gaming sessions, you don't want to fanny about with combos and such in Smash Brothers (which is still a great game, don't hit me), you want to mash the on button and get stuck into some good old moving-foreward-in-a-funny-looking-car. Or you could play shove ha'penny...... HAHAHAHAHA! Shove Ha'penny! Hahahaha! Ha! Ohhhh, dear.

8/10: Great, but not in all areas sadly.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/16/03

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