Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Mario Kart Retrospective: Mario Kart Double Dash!!

So this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I'm never shy of saying unpopular things. I don't like Mario Kart: Double Dash!! that much. In fact, I'd say that it's probably my least favorite game in the series, Super Circuit not withstanding. I know that's not the most popular opinion, but I have my reasoning! Trust me I do!

The Gamecube era was the generation where Nintendo made the most changes to their franchises. Mario got a super soaker, Link became cell shaded, Kirby starting ride a racer, and Metroid became a first person shooter. Most of Nintendo's franchises had a major change to their formula in one way or another, and honestly, I can admire when Nintendo, or any company for that matter, takes a risk in theirs series instead of playing it safe. Double Dash!! took risks, but none of them really paid off.

Coins were taken out, and instead we get a double kart racer. Two people ride in a kart at a time with one person driving around and the other person using power ups. I'd be fine with that, but the big problem is the changes it makes to multiplayer, which is the foundation of the series. Instead of it being like Mario Kart 64 where you can have four player split screen, it instead comes down to four players competing against each other in two karts. Two people in one kart, one using power ups, the other driving, against another team with the same set up. No more four players fending for themselves, its now two people working together to beat the other group. That just doesn't sit right for me for this series. It takes away half of the fun that previous entries had.

Now I know that the players can swap each others position so the driver can become the power up user and vice versa, but that means that one player is actually doing all of the racing while the other is just sitting around doing nothing, waiting to switch or get a power up. It's a mechanic that doesn't work at all. What makes the game a bit more interesting, albeit it more flawed, is the fact that each character now has a specific power up that only they can use. So MArio and Luigi can use fireballs, Baby Mario and Baby Luigi have a chain chomp, and Toadette and Toad have the Golden Mushroom. That's fine having specific power ups, but they're so imbalanced that it's ever more frustrating to win. Some powerups are far more useful than others, while the rest border on being pointless additions. It doesn't help that only two characters have that particular power up, so once someone chooses them, you better get the other one fast! Or if you're racing against a CPU with that character, you better watch out!

And don't even get me started on the courses. I know a lot of people really love the courses in Double Dash!!, but I just think that they're more bland and not particularly that good. That's an over reliance on moving stage hazards in this game, which takes the control away from the game. It's one thing to have power ups, but when the stage is actively fighting against you, sending cars, tables, and speed boosts at you around barrierless corners, then that's where I draw the line. It only takes one misstep to completely ruin the race, which was the case in other games. Yeah if you messed up it was hard to get back, but it was possible. Here, you'd be lucky just to get third place if you fell off the course or spun out on the course ONCE.

If it comes off that I don't like this game... then yeah, I really don't like this game. I think that the difficulty is all over the place, the power up system is imbalanced, and the general design of having two players to a kart robs the game of half of the fun. Side note, I don't like the soundtrack either. I just felt like that needed to be said at least because of, you know, reasons. I just don't like this game that much, and when I played it, I was thankful that I had played the next game in the series, Mario Kart DS, first to show me that the series can recover from missteps. Not the biggest fan of this game, but if you like it, more power to you.

Previous entries
Super Mario Kart
Mario Kart 64
Mario Kart: Super Circuit

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