We don’t claim to be always right here at Nintendo Life, but we will certainly fight just as hard to defend our terrible opinions as we do for the good ones. Today, thanks to the recent re-release of old Mario Kart tracks in the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Pass, we’re reminiscing about old Mario Karts… and that means discussing our feelings about Mario Kart: Double Dash! !, the surprisingly strategic dual driver kart racer who turned the formula of Mario Kart on its head well before Mario Kart 8’s gravity gimmick. Spoiler alert: we love it. Usually.
Is that a good opinion or a bad one? We’ll never tell.
However, we will share our detailed thoughts on it with you why we love Double Dash so much, almost 20 years after it was first released. It might not have the sharpest graphics, or the widest range of playable characters, or a massive selection of courses (but why would you really need anything other than Baby Park?), but it’s still a pretty brilliant entry into the Mario Kart series, who wasn’t afraid to shake things up.
So get your engines running because it’s time to wave the big flag that gets the races going. hey, we’re going!
Kate Gray, Staff Writer (Baby Mario/Baby Luigi)
Mario Kart: Double Sprint!! is perhaps the only time a Mario Kart game has had an additional layer of strategy with dual drivers. Of course, there’s already a lot of strategy in the games – between the races, the shortcuts, and the items (and when to use them!), the games are essentially a three-round competitive puzzle.
Double Dash’s drivers can be switched at any time and can also hold items, meaning you can essentially save an item for later. There’s also the additional strategic option of choosing two drivers from the same “team” – Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, for example – to unlock an additional optional item unique to each team. Babies Mario, for example, have access to a Chain Chomp that can catapult you to the top in the process Even chompin’ on all your enemies.
Which brings me to the other reason I love Double Dash (aside from Baby Park, the GOAT track): More so than any other Mario Kart game, it’s easy to reclaim victory after unceremoniously hitting a well-timed banana Blitz combo. Some of the items, especially the unique team items, are designed to get you up several spots or at the very least severely hurt the other drivers’ chances. Or both.
This dynamic rubber-banding means that 1st place never feels caged like it sometimes does in Mario Kart 8 – anyone can suddenly end up ahead of the others at any time, only to fall back to 8th place thanks to an unfortunate delay – round mishap. It’s tense until the end of each race, which I can’t really say about MK8 where I’m often 1st for almost 3 laps without much of a challenge. Is that a boast? You can bet it is. (*toad voice*) I’m the best.
Ollie Reynolds, staff writer (Bowser/Bowser Jr.)
Almost 20 years after its release, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is still probably the biggest shock the franchise has ever seen. Mario Kart Wii introduced motion controls and threw the spotlight on the surprisingly intuitive Wii wheel, but as someone who’s once worked in video game retail, you can bet I’ve seen some pretty good stuff scruffy Wii Wheels in my day – so I could do without it.
Meanwhile, Mario Kart 8 has its fun anti-grav features, but honestly, beyond the speed boosts you could get from slamming into other players, it didn’t do that Yes, really Add something unique to the overall gameplay. However, Double Dash introduced an incredibly unique element of strategy with its two-person karts, giving you a level of control over item usage that hasn’t been equaled since.
However, on a more personal level, Double Dash includes some of my favorite elements from across the series. The combination of Bowser and Bowser Jr earns you fantastic Spiky green shell that if you lag behind the other racers will wipe out several at once if you’re accurate enough. Not only that, but the game includes one of my all-time favorite tracks, Waluigi Stadium, a course full of obstacles and ramps that I’ve played more times than I care to admit (Nintendo, you need to bring this to the Booster Course Pass!).
Double Dash had its fair share of naysayers upon release; The somewhat awkward drifting mechanics took a little getting used to and some of the tracks feel a bit simplistic by today’s standards, but for me it was the first Mario Kart I’ve played correct entered and will remain a firm favourite. Am I blinded by nostalgia? Maybe. But I’m also right.
Gavin Lane, Editor (DK/non-DK)
When it comes to the “best” Mario Kart, I think it’s invariably the one you’ve played the most with three friends and maybe some frosty drinks. It’s hard to go wrong with any of them in this scenario, and for me it was Double Dash at University.
I adored MK64 (my first Mario Kart), but what really struck me was the mix of incredible new courses and full 3D characters in Double Dash. DK Mountain and Baby Park both stick in my mind as classic tracks: the former reminded me of the race to the barrel, the cute buck-toothed volcano and the dangerous shortcut before the last bridge (not to mention the incredible viral video this track produced – see below); The latter because of his insane article-heavy mania.
Switching characters and items easily was a joy Yes, really made this entry deeper than the others. Tapping “Z” to switch drivers and watching them hop between seats made upgrading MK64’s 2D sprites really tangible. Slip into a corner, drop a trailing banana peel to thwart someone on your tail, switch characters, activate your rescued Starman and shoot out of the drift, plow through a carefully laid trap and into a poor soul who was about to cross the line — what a feeling! It improved strategy in an incredibly satisfying way that I haven’t experienced with any of the other entries.
Double Dash might still be unfair (again, see below), but it gave you a chance to outsmart your opponents if you were smart through the eponymous gimmick.
Alana Hagues, Associate (Toad/Toadette)
I spent insane hours playing Double Dash as a kid. Truly, the GameCube by and large is the console on which I’ve collected many of my most formative gaming memories, and I cherish that era very much. And really, my love for Double Dash has just blossomed over the years.
Double Dash feels like the last Mario Kart that has a truly distinctive gimmick. Sure, anti-gravity is fun and allows for creative track design, and things like mirror mode, customizable vehicles, and paragliders have featured in every game since its inception. So why, oh why isn’t Nintendo bringing back having two racers!? You could do your standard versus races with a friend or three, but why not team up with one of your buddies and have them sit on your back and throw items for you? Also, if someone controls the character behind, they can swipe for another kart if they are close enough and steal their item. Brutally!
I always chose Toad and Toadette, who made her debut in this very game! The mushroom-headed duo were quite a loud couple who always annoyed my friends, especially when I got their trademark Golden Dash Mushroom. This gilded mushroom gives you infinite speed boosts for a period of time, so those sneaky blue shells that knocked me down four spots in the ranks felt like nothing.
I still have my original copy of Double Dash and a GameCube from launch day, so I booted it up after beating the Booster Course Pass – and my goodness am I tough! My old save from 2008 (how’s that 14 years ago?) fully completed every single mode, with King Boo and Petey Piranha on top of that, and even though I’m twice my age, I was only able to place first in 150cc in the 12 achieve courses that I have repeated. phew Glad it wasn’t a LAN party, but I didn’t like being yelled at by NPCs for a few hours. That’s what the bikes from Mario Kart Wii did to me.
If you still need convincing that Double Dash is the best Mario Kart game, I mean come on it has DK Mountain, Dino Dino Jungle, Baby Park and the best Bowser Castle in the series?
Tom Whitehead, Deputy Editor (um, see below)
I was asked to contribute because I’m weird and didn’t have a GameCube. No really, and I still don’t, I missed this entire generation of consoles (PS2 and OG Xbox too) and played pretty much exclusively on a creaky PC Back in the day. It was just like that.
So for me double dash!! always looked like an oddity as I only played it briefly at a few gatherings many years ago. I had to ask others to explain the whole point of having two characters in the kart; To be fair, it sounds cool from a single player perspective, with strategic options adding to the racing thrills. But in co-op? As a younger brother, I feel like I’m constantly in the background throwing things, which doesn’t appeal to me.
So, my experience of the series related to the Nintendo 64, Wii, 3DS, Wii U, and Switch entries, which I’ve devoted hundreds (thousands, actually) of hours to. In these games, Mario Kart isn’t just a fun time, it’s a brutal battle where only the strong survive. Play a little MK8 Deluxe online these days and it’s a humbling, grueling experience that still keeps me coming back for more. Part of what I love is the simple formula that’s at play – it’s just you, your preferred vehicle, and any items that the RNG Mario Kart Gods give you. It’s simple and classic, with anti-grav and all that jazz, which really makes the tracks more exciting. The core game loop and item usage has stayed the same for me for decades.
I’m sure Double Dash!! is great, but maybe there’s a reason Nintendo only took this approach once and hasn’t returned. Sometimes perfectly balanced simplicity is better.
We don’t all agree on whether Double Dash!! was a great twist on an established series, but there’s at least one thing we can all agree on: Mario Kart rules. Whether we all agree on which rules apply most doesn’t matter as long as we can keep playing together!
But now is the time to give your opinion, and we expect it to come spicy in the comments too — so let us know what you think about Double Dash!! was a triumph or a misstep in the poll below!
Here’s some more light Mario Kart reading for you, too:
https://www.nintendolife.com/features/mario-kart-double-dash-is-the-best-mario-kart-right-lets-find-out Mario Kart: Double Sprint!! is the best Mario Kart, right? let’s find out