Mario Kart Double Dash(MK:DD) is a solid addition to the kart racing series. It moves forward by miles in terms of some features while others stay quite the same and new additions give it a fresh and new style.
The gameplay has evolved the most from past entries in the series. With a wealth of Modes to be had here. Including the all to familiar Grand Prix with cc modes which are broken up into three difficulties which feature three different speeds. 50cc, 100cc, and 150cc. While 50cc is the walk-in-the-park of the three 100cc and 150cc are quite challenging this time around. The other karts AI is vastly improved over Mario Kart 64.
There is no more catching up by computer controlled karts and this time they have just as much a chance to win than you do, from using items strategically to taking shortcuts each has a distinct personality and it shows. The incredibly fun Battle Mode is back with new arenas and new types of games. There are four arenas to battle in from the start up of the game with more unlockable throught the course of the game. While still fun some of the battle mode arenas are small are some very plain forcing the participants to use different strategies depending on the arena that they are playing in.
Time Trial is also back and with them also came the course ghosts which are harder than ever this time around. Beating them will take tens if not hundreds of tries and while the reward is not determined yet if any upon beating the ghosts the accomplishment on it's own is rewarding enough.
The Grand Prix features the Mushroom, Flower, and Star cups from previoud Mario Karts with new and exciting tracks. Each cups tracks get progressively harder with more twists and turns as well as more track hazards. More cups can be unlocked later through progression of the game and they still get much harder and increasingly more difficult to win at depending on the cc mode.
Where the game really shines bright is the added feature of two characters per kart, one to drive and one to manage items. There is also the ability to switch who is driving and who is tossing items in the race by pressing the Z button. On occasion you can find a double item box in which both characters get an item. A single item can also be stored by a character while he or she is driving for use once they get the back. Special items also make a first appearence in a Mario Kart. Each character having a special item that he or she can only get. Mario the fireball, Bowser the giant koopa shell, Baby Mario the chain-chomp, Wario the Bomb-omb and so on. So getting say Mario and Bowser teamed up together you will have access to both character special items. Which brings me to the point of characters and karts. They all have different attributes so mixing up the characters for what suites you best is a great addition. Mario and Luigi for instance are medium and the most balanced of all the racers while Bowser is a heavy weight with poor acceleration but high top speed and Yoshi the opposite of Bowser. Its really a great addition and one that can be of great strategy.
The graphics in the game are very sharp and crisp running at a constant 60fps with no drop no matter how much action is on the screen. While game has all this graphical greatness it hardly takes advantage of the Gamecubes power. This game could look a lot better. But with the way it looks and feels the way it is I have no grippes about it.
The sound is probably the most disapointing aspect of the game. The music is for the most part pretty bad. The sound effects are typical and that of past Mario Kart games and the voice overs are great and funny but get a little repetetive after awhile. None of the sound is terrible enough to make you want to mute your TV but could be better.
I recommend this game to anyone looking for a party game. With 1-16 players the replay is tremendous. With Co-op and multiplayer GP modes to battle mode and time trial the game has a lot to do. The single player aspect is also nice with many unlockables which is a first in the series. From unlockable tracks, karts, characters, modes, and more I would have to say this is the best Mario Kart yet and is a step in the right direction. This is more than a rental, be sure to purchase it and you will find yourself playing it into the whee hours of the night.