Mario Kart: Double Dash!!
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is a racing game developed and published by Nintendo for the GameCube and the fourth main installment of the Mario Kart series. It was released in November 2003 worldwide, being released in Japan first. The game, while retaining many aspects of previous Mario Kart games, such as selecting a Mario franchise character as the player's driver and the familiar item-based weaponry that the series employs, introduces a feature that is unique to this entry in the Mario Kart series: the two-person karts, hence the title of the game. Two characters handle a single kart, where one character steers and the other deals with items, and they can switch positions at any time if necessary. The game is the only game in the franchise where two players can play cooperatively in one kart, with each player handling a single character, though the option to play in separate 2-person karts for each player is still available. In addition, the game introduces Special Items, items that are exclusive to a pair of characters, which is another feature unique to this game. The game is one of the few games to take advantage of LAN Mode via the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter, which allows up to sixteen players to participate in a single race.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is the first Mario Kart game in the series to employ 3D graphics for characters and items, as opposed to Mario Kart 64 using pre-rendered sprites to display these objects. The game also introduces a larger variety of karts to select from depending on the character combo's weight class rather than the standard go-kart being the sole vehicle all racers use, and this variety of vehicles has been retained in all Mario Kart games since.
As with every new Mario Kart game, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! shows several new features, granting a new style of playing for the users. Apart from that, there are two characters per kart; the number of playable characters was increased to join the race. As implied in various Mario series games, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! contains many elements to unlock as well. By beating the cups available in every engine level, the player unveils other hidden levels, karts, and other playable characters in the game. Furthermore, there is a very dynamic selection of karts: Every kart has specific stats that distinguishes from the others, as well as capturing their respective character's style; for instance, Mario's kart, the Red Fire. In the first three games, there was only one kart that the players could use, which was what Mario Kart 7 would eventually call the Pipe Frame.
Items are the main element presented in every Mario Kart game, and Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is no exception. These are obtainable via Item Boxes, where characters can receive any standard Item or a Special Item. The latter is an item that a specific pair of characters can receive, while all others cannot. Additionally, power-ups dropped on the course will instantly effect the kart that would pick on it as a Banana, a Koopa Shell or a Mushroom or Star. The effects of certain items have changed considerably as well.
Another notable change featured in the game is the point system given to the racers after a competition in Grand Prix mode. Starting from Mario Kart: Double Dash!! onward, this new system is used for the newer Mario Kart installments that were developed after this one. Also, players cannot retry a failed race in Grand Prix mode, as opposed to the first three games. Users have to continue racing until finishing a cup to see the overall results. The following chart shows the difference of the point spreads from previous games to Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
This is also the first Mario Kart game to feature live-rendered 3D models for the characters and items, whereas in previous Mario Kart games, the characters and items are pre-rendered sprites.
However, more than the new point system, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! also added important features that would become mainstays of the future Mario Kart titles. For example, before the start of every race, a short overview of the track, lasting a few seconds, shows all of the big features of the track, such as obstacles, scenery, and the finish line. Also, the countdown to the start of the race lasts for one second longer; in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, the countdown is "3, 2, 1, START," while in the first three games, it is represented by two red lights followed by a green light.
Because of the team mechanic, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! includes 20 playable characters, with nine returning characters and 11 newcomers, the second most introduced in any Mario Kart game. The game also introduces Toadette to the Mario franchise. This is the only Mario Kart game to feature more playable characters than it does race courses. Characters are divided into three classes depending on their weight: Light, Medium, and Heavy. There are eight default teams and two unlockable teams, a total of ten teams and twenty individual characters which can be combined in any way, giving 190 possible character combinations. Pressing and together before selecting any character will choose a random pair of characters and a random kart to play as. In multiplayer mode, it'll randomize everyone's character and kart.
* - indicates a new character to the Mario Kart series.
In addition to the playable drivers, numerous other Mario series characters play supporting roles in the game as well. Lakitu reprises his role as the referee, meaning that he signals the start of each and every race and battle with his starting lights, alerts players when they complete a lap around the course, tells the drivers when they're going in the wrong direction, waves the checkered flag to finish the race at the finish line, and returns drivers to the track if they land themselves in a dangerous predicament (i.e. falling off the course). Other characters who make cameos include Shy Guys, Piranha Plants, Cataquacks, and Dinosaurs. Toadsworth drives the winners of a cup around Peach Beach in the Parade Kart. Piantas and Nokis from Super Mario Sunshine cheer the racers on in some courses and join them during the Award Ceremony.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! has various controls for racing and menus. Each button on the controller represents a different ability while the player is racing or battling.
Mario Kart: Double Dash!! contains sixteen new racing courses added, along with six new battle courses. Each racecourse contains its own difficulty and gimmicks. Up to four players can play in all the modes, excluding Time Trial mode, where only one is permitted. In addition, the users can play independently or in cooperative mode, a unique style of gameplay only featured in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
In Grand Prix Mode, the player needs to win the cups against computer-controlled opponents. The difficulty level against CPU racers changes in each of the four engine classes, which are the following:
There are mainly four cups in Grand Prix mode, each one with four stages to race. These cups bear their difficulty levels as well as the race courses within. The most basic is Mushroom Cup with simple courses and few gimmicks. Special Cup, on the other hand, contains long and gimmicky race courses. All the race courses have three laps, except Baby Park, which has seven because of its short length, and Wario Colosseum, which has two due to its great length.
Special Cup is an unlockable cup. It is unlocked when players beat 100cc Star Cup.
A fifth cup, the All-Cup Tour is the conglomeration of all the cups in the game. It is unlocked after players beat the Special Cup in 150cc. The 16 tracks are played through one after another in random order, with the exceptions of Luigi Circuit always appearing first and Rainbow Road always appearing last. This cup does not appear in other racing modes.
In GP Mode, two players can join a race, as themselves or in Co-op play. Players can play Grand Prix mode with two players in different karts or in co-op mode for two to four players.
In Time Trial, a single player races courses over a set number of laps to record the fastest completion time. Before racing, adding the player's name entry will register their records available. When a race starts, the characters will have two mushrooms in hand for speed boost. The best time elapsed in a lap and a race on a specific track will be saved after completing the race. Once a race is completed on a course, the user is able to compete against either their Ghost from the current Ghost data or the Staff Ghost within the stage. Otherwise, if a race is failed, the Ghost data will not be saved. The Ghost data recording can be disabled in the Options screen menu. Each Ghost save is worth five blocks on the GameCube Memory Card.
In Japan, players were able to submit special codes in Time Trial mode as part of a contest. The content never existed outside of Japan, but the results of the code can still be accessed in all versions of the game.
Battle Mode is a traditional mode that has presented throughout all Mario Kart games. Two to four players can compete against themselves using a variety of items (including all the special items) on the new battle arenas found in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!.
In Battle mode it is possible to play in three sub-modes:
Names in other languages
Versus (for two to four players) allows racers to select their characters and karts, and compete among themselves on the tracks. It's also possible to play in versus mode through a LAN connection where more than four players can join a competition. Additionally, there are some versus options found in the Option menu to change the mode's gameplay:
Supporting the main feature in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! upon two-racers-one-kart, Cooperative Play (also said Co-op Play) lets two players control their respective character in a kart, one being the driver and the other as the item thrower. While playing in Co-op mode, the players' characters can perform special moves that a single player cannot make. The rear character can perform a Slide Attack to steal an item from their rivals while messing up the rival's vehicle's controls. Both players can even double the power of the Rocket Start by pressing the button at the same time. This special boost is the Double Dash.
The following table below excludes Time Trial as it is a single player exclusive mode.
Twenty-one karts are available in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, notable for having different designs and appearances. There is one kart for each character, plus the Parade Kart. Every kart has three ratings, rated by the number of stars. The maximum amount is five.
Just as the characters are classified according to their weights, karts are split into three groups in size with some general characteristics:
Each combination of characters will also determine the class of kart that will be used for the race. The table to the top right means the resulting vehicle according to the size of the characters.
An exception to this rule is the Parade Kart, which all the characters, regardless of weight, can drive. It is unlocked by completing All-Cup Tour in Mirror Mode.
These are the kart stats that are displayed in-game.
* is unlockable
The stars shown on the vehicle selection screen are less precise than the actual values used by the game; Speed and Weight each have 9 distinct values rather than 5, and the differences in Acceleration are mainly due to two values, generating 9 possible combinations that don't necessarily line up with the menu stats: the first value affects mainly the first phase of acceleration while starting from a standstill, the second affects acceleration when the speed is higher than around 50% of the maximum speed. When drifting, acceleration depends on values that are the same for all karts. Drifting itself can begin when the speed of the kart is at least 15 km/h (26 units). When the speed is lower than that, trying to drift results in the kart having an acceleration value proportional to the first acceleration value but considerably smaller than that. It is also important to note that the values determine acceleration in terms of increase of relative speed, the fraction of current speed to top speed, over time.
Skm/h = Sunits / 1.75
Speed is actually capped at 175 units (100 km/h, 70 mph).
This game follows Mario Kart 64 in including the possibility to race against Staff Ghosts, ghosts created by Nintendo staff as the main ghosts of the course. They can be unlocked by achieving a certain time on the respective course. Below is a table showing all Staff Ghosts and their respective times.
Traditional items from Super Mario Kart through Mario Kart: Super Circuit appear in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! with a bunch of new power-ups to change a race drastically, such as stealing the opponent's place or item by using a Mushroom or reducing the racers to small size with the rare Lightning. The rear character obtains a determinate item by running into an Item Box. However, Double Item Boxes give items to both the rear character and driver. The variety of items depends on the kart's place. Leader racers tend to receive basic items such as Bananas or Green Shells, while those going under fourth place can receive rare items like a Star or a Spiny Shell.
Items are classified in two forms:
Drifting and mini turbo
Drifting prevents racers from losing speed in turns or from going off the course. By keeping pressed the controller's button (or button), and tilting the stick to sides, racers make the kart turn around. While drifting, racers can gain a momentary speed boost by tilting the control stick to the sides, opposite to a corner's direction. The kart then produce sparks on its wheels. Doing this two times more, racers make the sparks become orange, then blue, and then releasing a mini turbo right after the racer lets go of the (or ) button.
This tactic can be used to perform the snaking (continuous power sliding) and elude homing hazards such as Red Shells.
A Rocket Start is a speed boost given to a kart when a race starts out. To perform, racers just have to press the button to accelerate right when Lakitu's lights turn green or by tapping the button repeatedly while Lakitu counts down.
The Double Dash is similar to the Rocket Start. Although it is more powerful, it can only be performed in Co-op play. Both team members can press the button at the same time when Lakitu's light turns green. Upon being done perfectly, the kart bolts farther, leaving out a blue flame as a result. This technique is named after the game's subtitle.
Item stealing is snatching a power-up directly from the rival's hands in a kart. There are three ways to steal an item as long as the player's rear character holds no items. Items can be stolen when the rear racer uses a mushroom or a star to hit an opposing kart and snatch the item that one of the rivals have. In Co-op Mode, the player's rear character can use the Slide Attack to knock other rivals and take their items away. However, if the rear character knocks a rival kart with two players holding an item, the character can get the rival rear character's item, while the rival driver drops the other item onto the track.
Using the Nintendo GameCube Broadband Adapter (sold separately) attached to the game system, in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! it is possible to play via Local Area Network (LAN), using up to eight Nintendo GameCube systems connected to a hub device, or also using two consoles connected together through a cross-cable, where more than four players can join a race locally. This means that up to sixteen users can play at the same time with their friends using two or more GameCube systems with the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! game discs on.
After connecting the systems to the hub, the players should turn the systems' power button to begin. The LAN Mode option appears on screen to confirm the selection. Once LAN Mode is selected and confirmed on all participating game systems and the connections have been established, the Select Mode displays. Players may proceed by pressing controller's button, the LAN Mode title screen displays to enter to play.
In the LAN Mode title screen there are three options:
Unlike the local multiplayer, the players' characters are chosen at random, each time a race begins.
Toad and Toadette can be selected, providing they have been unlocked on one of the memory cards. Petey Piranha and King Boo however are never picked, even if they have been unlocked on one of the memory cards.
The karts that are picked is the one that belongs to the driver. If their respected kart has not been unlocked on one of the memory cards, then they use their respective partner's kart (e.g. Luigi uses Mario's kart). The exception is that if a small character is paired with a large character then the large kart is used instead. This means the Piranha Pipes, Boo Pipes and Parade Kart can not be used in LAN mode.
In this way, two to eight Nintendo GameCube systems are connected to an over-the-counter 10BASE-T hub. The LAN cables used to connect every game system to the hub must be compatible, otherwise, the connection won't be carried out. Every Nintendo GameCube system has to have attached their Nintendo Broadband Adapter, and the Mario Kart: Double Dash!! game disc in hand, one per system. At last, the number of GameCube controllers used depends on the number of players present.
Unlike LAN connection, where it uses a hub to connect GameCube systems to it, the Cross-cable connection requires of only two GameCube game systems connected between themselves, through a 10BASE-T hub-compatible cross-cable. The rest of the required equipment is similar: A Mario Kart: Double Dash!! game disc per system, the Nintendo Broadband Adapter attached to the game system, and the number of GameCube controllers regarding how many players participate.
Differences in split-screen races
There are several differences that players can notice in split-screen mode, most likely to preserve the frame rate. In Dolphin's Netplay online mode, the single screen features are featured in split-screen races. In future Mario Kart games, however, split-screen mode no longer omits track features.
Dry Dry Desert
Dino Dino Jungle
Preorders for Mario Kart: Double Dash!! also gave customers a bonus disc containing playable demos, game trailers, and content that can be transferred to Fire Emblem on the Game Boy Advance. The disc came in a special two-disc game box, and the cover for the game had the line "Includes BONUS DISC with playable demos!" written across the bottom right.
Content for the bonus disc includes:
Pre-release and unused content
The models of the characters are from Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Mario and Luigi are seen in this trailer of a very early build of the game, driving separately, each in a simple, blue kart.
Donkey Kong Jr. was also seen in an early build of the character selection screen, but was scrapped in the end.
Spencer McIlvaine of Nintendo Life gave the game 9 stars out of 10, praising the game as being a worthy successor to the Mario Kart franchise, despite that it has less innovation than the other games. He concluded with "Nevertheless, the game has lost some of the edge that it had in its first two outings and shows fewer innovative ideas here. This time around the game was mostly about better graphics and less buggy programming with a few gimmicks thrown in like having two drivers instead of one. As a result, Double Dash is not the most recommended Mario Kart game in the franchise. But compared to other games in general it’s still one heck of a ride." Tom Bramwell of Eurogamer gave the game a score of 9 out of 10. He praised the game for adding more content, especially the online LAN mode. He wrote, "In my opinion, it's not a better game than the original Super Mario Kart, but it is the closest anyone's ever come, and one of the finest pieces of electronic entertainment ever developed." He also stated that rating Mario Kart Double Dash!! was the hardest thing he did because he always wanted to write about it.
On the contrast, Edge Magazine UK gave the game a 5 out of 10, criticizing the game of "not being a racing game any more". Fran Mirabella III of IGN gave the game a score of 7.9 out of 10. He criticized that Mario Kart Double Dash!! felt very similar to Mario Kart 64 and although it gets the job done that it felt that it had wasted potential. He praised the multiplayer for being superb.
Mario Kart: Double Dash is the 2nd best-selling game for the Nintendo GameCube, right behind Super Smash Bros Melee, with approximately 7 million copies sold, including 3.8 million copies in the United States, and over 802,000 units in Japan, as of December 31, 2009.
Permanent upside-down car
This glitch only works with the Parade Kart. The player should go to a place where they can get smashed by the course obstacle, such as the Thwomps in Bowser's Castle or the blue dinosaur in Dino Dino Jungle (Bowser's Castle is preferred because the Thwomps are stationary). This glitch best works for two players, as timing is needed. One player should drive underneath a Thwomp, while the other should receive an explosive power-up, either a Spiny Shell or a Bob-omb. When received, the player should fire the item at the correct moment, blasting the kart into the air and getting smashed under the floating Thwomp. After falling down, if done correctly, the player will remain such, which is upside down. Note that the player is invincible in this position and the player can only revert to normal position if Lightning strikes them and a Thwomp afterward.
References to other games
References in later games
Names in other languages