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Mario Kart: Double Dash!! The best Mario Kart, isn’t it? Let’s find out

Mario Kart: Double Dash!!  The best Mario Kart, isn't it?  Let's find out

Image: Nintendo Life/Zion Grassl

We don’t always pretend to be right here at Nintendo Life, but we’ll certainly fight as hard to defend our wrong opinions as we do the right ones. Today, thanks to the recent re-release of old Mario Kart tracks in the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Booster Course Passwe think back to Mario Karts of yore…and that means discussing our feelings about Mario Kart: Double Dash!!the surprisingly strategic dual-driver kart racer who flipped the Mario Kart formula long before Mario Kart 8The gravity thing. Spoiler alert: We love it. Most.

Is this a good or a bad opinion? We will never tell.

We will, however, give you our detailed thoughts on Why we love Double Dash so much, almost 20 years after its initial release. It might not have the sharpest graphics, or the widest range of playable characters, or a huge selection of courses (but why would you need anything other than Baby Park, really?), but it remains a pretty brilliant entry in the Mario Kart series that hasn’t been afraid to shake things up.

So rev your engines, because it’s time to wave the big flag that gets the races started. Hey here we go!

Kate Gray, Writer (Baby Mario/Baby Luigi)

Mario Kart: Double Dash!! This is perhaps the only time a Mario Kart game has had an added layer of strategy, with the addition of dual drivers. There’s a lot of strategy in the games already, of course – between races, shortcuts, and items (and when to use them!), the games are essentially a competitive three-round puzzle.

Double Dash pilots can be changed at any time, and they can also contain items, which means you can essentially bank an item for later. There’s also the added strategic option of choosing two pilots from the same “team” – Baby Mario and Baby Luigi, for example – to unlock an additional optional item unique to each team. Baby Marios, for example, have access to a Chain Chomp, which can propel you into the lead while also bite all your enemies.

Which brings me to the other reason I love Double Dash (other than Baby Park, the GOAT track): More than any other Mario Kart game, it’s easy to pick up the win after being unceremoniously sent to the back of the pack with a well-timed banana-lightning combo. Several of the items, especially the unique team items, are designed to cause you to advance from multiple locations, or at least seriously hurt the chances of other pilots. Or both.

This dynamic elastic means that 1st place never feels locked in, as it sometimes does in Mario Kart 8 – anyone, at any time, can suddenly find themselves in front of the others, only to then drop back down to 8th thanks to a regrettable delay. – lathe accident. It’s tense until the end of each race, which I can’t really say on MK8, where I’ll often be 1st for almost 3 laps without too much difficulty. Is it bragging? You bet it is. (*Toad voice*) I’m the best.

Ollie Reynolds, Writer (Bowser/Bowser Jr)

Almost 20 years after its release, Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is probably the biggest shake-up the franchise has ever seen. Mario Kart Wii introduced motion controls and put the surprisingly intuitive Wii Wheel in the limelight, but as someone who’s ever worked in video game retail, you can bet I’ve seen some pretty dirty Wii Wheels in my time – so that I could do without it.

Meanwhile, Mario Kart 8 has its fun anti-gravity features, but honestly, beyond the speed boosts you might get from hitting other players, it hasn’t. really add something unique to the overall gameplay. Double Dash, however, introduced an incredibly unique element of strategy with its two-person karts, allowing you a level of control over item usage that hasn’t been matched since.

On a more personal note, however, Double Dash contains some of my favorite elements from the entire series. The combination of Bowser and Bowser Jr gives you a impressive spiked green shell which, if you are behind the rest of the runners, will take out several of them at once if you are accurate enough. Not only that, but the game includes one of my all-time favorite tracks with Waluigi Stadium, a course full of obstacles and ramps that I’ve replayed more times than I care to admit (Nintendo, you need to bring this one to the Booster Course Pass!).

Double Dash had its fair share of naysayers upon its release; its somewhat clunky drift mechanism took a bit of getting used to and some of the courses seem a bit simplistic by today’s standards, but for me it was the first Mario Kart I’ve played. have correctly entered and will remain a firm favorite. Am I blinded by nostalgia? May be. But I’m also right.

Gavin Lane, editor (DK/non-DK)

When it comes to the “best” Mario Kart, I’m of the opinion that it’s invariably the one you’ve played the most with three pals and maybe a few frozen drinks. In this scenario, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them, and for me, that was Double Dash in college.

I loved MK64 (my first Mario Kart), but the mix of amazing new courses and full 3D characters in Double Dash really blew me away. DK Mountain and Baby Park stick in my mind as classic bits: the first one remembered for the barrel run, the cute horsetooth volcano, and that perilous shortcut before the final bridge (not to mention the amazing viral video that this piece produced — see below); the latter for his frenzied mania for heavy objects.

Just changing characters and objects was a joy that really made this entry deeper than the others. Tapping ‘Z’ to switch pilots and watching them jump between seats really made MK64’s 2D sprite upgrade tangible. Sneak around a corner, drop a trailing banana peel to outsmart someone on your tail, switch characters, activate your saved Starman and get out of the drift, plow through a carefully set trap and into a poor soul that was about to cross the line — what a feeling! It enhanced the strategy in an incredibly satisfying way that I’ve never experienced in any of the other entries.

Double Dash could still be unfair (again, see below), but it gave you a chance to outwit your opponents if you were crafty thanks to its namesake gimmick.

Alana Hagues, Writer (Toad/Toadette)


I spent a ridiculous amount of hours on Double Dash as a kid. Truly, the GameCube as a whole is the console where I formed many of my most formative gaming memories, and I deeply cherish that era. And really, my love for Double Dash has just blossomed over the years.

Double Dash looks like the latest Mario Kart to have a truly distinctive gimmick. Of course, anti-gravity is fun and allows for creative course design, and things like mirror mode, customizable vehicles, and paragliders have all been seen in every game since their inclusion. So why oh why won’t Nintendo bring back two racers!? You could do your standard runs versus runs with a friend or three, but why not team up with one of your buddies and have them sit on their backs and throw things for you? When someone is controlling the back character, they can also slide onto another kart if they are close enough and steal their item. Brutal!

I always chose Toad and Toadette, who made their debut in this game! The Mushroom Head Duo was a pretty loud pair, which always annoyed my friends, especially whenever I got their flagship item, the Golden Dash Mushroom. This golden mushroom gives you infinite speed boosts for a set period of time, so those sneaky blue shells that pushed me four places in the ranks were like nothing.

I still have my original copy of Double Dash and a GameCube on launch day, so I started it after playing with the Booster Course Pass – and damn it, I’m tough! My old save file from 2008 (how’s that 14 years ago?) Every mode fully completed, with King Boo and Petey Piranha to boot, and despite being twice as old I could only manage Only one first place in 150cc in the 12 courses I replayed. Phew. Luckily it wasn’t a LAN party, but I didn’t like being booed by NPCs for a few hours. What’s this Mario Kart Wii‘s bikes made 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, Associate Editor (uh, see below)

Double dash
Image: Nintendo

I was asked to contribute to this because I’m weird and didn’t have a GameCube. No really, and I still don’t, I’ve missed this whole generation of consoles (PS2 and OG Xbox too) and pretty much exclusively played on a squeaky PC at the time. It was like that.

For me, then, Double Dash!! has always sounded weird, having only played it briefly at some meetings many years ago. I had to ask others to explain the whole point of having two characters in the kart; it looks cool from a single player perspective, to be fair, with strategic options adding to the racing thrill. In Co-op, on the other hand? As a younger brother, I feel like I’d be in the back all the time, which doesn’t appeal to me.

My experience with the series has been with its Nintendo 64, Wii, 3DS, Wii U, and then Switch entries, into which I’ve poured hundreds (in fact thousands) of hours. In these games, Mario Kart is not just a joyful moment, it’s a brutal “only the fittest survive” struggle. Play a bit of MK8 Deluxe online these days and it’s a humbling and murderous experience that nonetheless keeps me coming back. Part of what I love is the simple formula at play – it’s just you, your vehicle of choice, and all the items the RNG Mario Kart gods give you. It’s basic and classic, with anti-gravity and all that jazz that makes the tracks more exciting. The core gameplay loop and how items are used has remained unchanged for me over the decades.

I’m sure Double Dash!! is great, but there might be a reason why Nintendo only took this approach once and didn’t come back. Sometimes perfectly tuned simplicity is best.

We don’t all agree on whether Double Dash or not!! It was a great spin on an established series, but there’s at least one thing we can all agree on: Mario Kart rules. Whether or not we’re all aligned with whoever rules more is not important, as long as we can continue to play together!

But now is the time for you to voice your opinion, and we expect it to be spice in the comments too – so let us know your thoughts on whether or not Double Dash should be!! was a triumph or a misstep in the poll below!

Here are also some lighter Mario Kart reads for you: