Thankfully, Double Dash!! has got everything right--indeed this is probably the best first-party sequel so far for the GameCube: the graphics are excellent, the power-ups are more insane than ever and most importantly the handling of the karts is excellent, with the powerslide of the SNES original all-important once more.
The big new gimmick for Double Dash!! is the fact that there are customised karts for you to drive, all of which can seat two characters. This ensures a surprising amount of tactical depth as you can switch the characters around mid-race in order to access each one's unique special weapons. As ever with Nintendo games, the gameplay is perfectly balanced so that the use of power-ups never overshadows the need to be a skilful driver. Indeed, the improved AI of the computer players is immediately noticeable as they move around the tracks in a highly intelligent manner, moving out of your way and blocking you off when necessary.
Of course the real draw with any Mario Kart game is the multi-player mode and this is as insanely enjoyable as ever in either race or battle mode. Indeed it's better than ever as you can now have up to 16 people playing at one time if you link up your GameCubes using broadband adapters. --David Jenkins
Mario Kart's multi-player options are better than ever, too. Four players can compete in split-screen mode with one 'Cube and one copy of the game, or you can link two GameCubes together (two Broadband Adapters and an Ethernet cable are required) and use two TVs for an eight-player game. If you're truly hard-core you can link eight consoles (each with a Broadband Adapter) and eight TVs and each play on your own screen.
Having now spent the remaining hours of the weekend playing it, I can definitely say it is worth the wait. What's it like? Well, it's like Mario Kart of course! And that is exactly what we all wanted, isn't it?
The improvements are subtle yet worthwhile - improved graphics etc. The handling of the karts is superb, and playing around with the character/kart combos gives endless possibilities. There is nothing else in life quite as satisfying as power-sliding around a 180 degree hairpin, preferably knocking off a quick red shell in the process.
Make no doubt, I've loved every minute of this game so far, and I haven't even got onto multi-player yet! However, I do have a couple of concerns. First, I'm worried about how long the single-player appeal will last. I'd managed to win gold on all but 150cc star cup after only a couple of hours playing (of course, I've spent many an hour on previous versions of the game, so I'm pretty good.) That said, I haven't finished yet and I'm sure I have more to unlock. Only time will tell on that one. My other moan is about the use of the Z button to swap characters. To me, that button is the only fault of the cube, and it's use during high speed shenanigans can be tricky (I constantly keep firing power-ups when trying to switch drivers and vice-versa.) I'm sure I'll get used to it, though.
But forget those worries, this is still brilliant and a must-have, whether you're new to Mario or a karting die-hard.
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