There’s an old Japanese saying that translates roughly to: “Mario Kart Double Dash!!’ is the eighth wonder of the world.” I can’t attribute that prophetic claim to anyone specifically, but I’m assuming it was some revered Shogun. The phrase’s meaning is beyond dispute however; “Double Dash!!” will forever rule the “Mario Kart” roost.
For starters, the name alone puts it leaps and bounds above the other games in the series. While I will always admire the “64” moniker Nintendo slapped on their games, “Double Dash!!” is both alliterative and exciting. Indeed, more games could benefit from attaching a couple exclamation points on the end. “The Last of Us” was decent, but imagine how much more emotionally affecting it could be with a title like “The Last of Us!!”
Name merit may seem like a trivial category, but the naming convention of this series is so erratic that something so utterly innocent and beautiful like “Double Dash!!” immediately stands out.
One of the major appeals of “Double Dash!!” is it’s a Gamecube title. Nintendo’s forgotten boxy friend may have sold pitiful amounts, but that financial failure created a golden opportunity for retro hipster status on campuses across the country. Nintendo 64s have always been the go-to for classic college duels, but the lengthy gap between the Gamecube’s demise and the launch of a new console means it’s finally trendy to hear that familiar diddy as you spin the cube while the system starts up.
While anyone still toting a beefy original Xbox certainly deserves some credit, it’s time for the Gamecube to rise back into national prominence. I guarantee within two years, every dorm room in the continental United States will have that familiar purple lunchbox. The Gamecube is in the midst of its second peak on the popularity continuum. Break out your Wavebirds and embrace Project Dolphin. We’re all witnesses.
Back to singing the praises of “Double Dash!!” though. The most obvious aspect of its superiority lies in the dual-driver system. I have no clue why Nintendo hasn’t brought this back, because there is no gameplay convention quite as intricate or nuanced as strategically tapping Z. Based on your position in the race, you’re constantly managing which character to have on back since some won’t get their special in first place; vice versa for last place.
Additionally, the drifting mechanic is second to none. While I’ve never Tokyo-drifted in real life, “Double Dash!!” seems to have the most realistic interpretation of this phenomenon in the history of media. Also, it actually takes skill to reach the blue sparks and acquire a boost around corners as opposed to the lame, idiotic, timing-based system of “Mario Kart Wii.” You can immediately tell who hasn’t played the game before based on how loud they shake the control stick while trying to acquire those beautiful blue flames emblematic of freedom, patriotism and idyllic landscapes.
It also ferrets out pretenders and contenders from the moment you hit the character selection screen. Small carts are the only valid option in multiplayer. It’s okay to ridicule your buddies mercilessly when they choose King Boo and Petey Piranha—they’ve just done the video game equivalent of voting for the Whig Party in 2016. As an aside, I’m totally onboard for a Whig Party comeback. GO BIG AND VOTE WHIG 2016!
Finally, there’s one singular aspect of “Double Dash!!” that makes it the purest distillation of fun known to man. Two words: Baby Park. A ruthless track built solely to test raw driving skill, its two right turns and seven laps will lead to some of the most heart-pounding moments of your existence.
Just when you think you will finish first, that blue shell catches up to you while everyone passes your pitiful, stunned cart. There’s the exhilaration of whipping around corners, only to see an entire side covered in giant ‘nanners because your idiot cousin chose Diddy Kong whose asinine ape chant taunt continues to haunt your dreams. You can watch as the uninformed newcomer launches their chain chomp only to have the swooping overhead train break their connection immediately. Baby Park is my personal Italian villa.
It may sound like hyperbole, but I think it’s fair to say “Mario Kart: Double Dash!!” is the finest racing—nay, finest game—ever produced. Is there a more ideal way to simulate a racing experience than rubber band AI? Some haters may say “Mario Kart 64” is the superior version. Disregard their opinions immediately and spend some time doing solo time trials on Baby Park. You’ll understand soon enough.
Do you think Super Nintendo is better? Let Adam know at firstname.lastname@example.org.