Monday, July 18, 2016

Mario Kart: Double Dash (Gamecube, 2003)

Time to step into the realm of the Gamecube, as Mario and friends get into the business of tag-teaming karts. Since this game coincides with Super Mario Sunshine, I expect it to share a lot of the same assets. Does this also mean the game will consist only of redundant Delfino Island levels? Tune in and find out.



Wow, that is a LOT of characters. The first thing that stands out about this game: KOOPA-TROOPA RETURNS. And this time, he brought a friend. Behold Paratroopa, the winged menace.

The second thing that stands out: The karts. You now have a selection of karts to use, and half of them look like baby strollers/carriages/cribs with wheels. Between this and how so many of the characters make baby noises (and two of them ARE babies), I gotta wonder if this was made by the same design team as Metroid Other M. By God, they'll make games that are about babies whether you like it or not!

 This game introduces something new to the cup repertoire. Lightning Cup is sadly no more, yet there's a mode where you can go through all of the other cups in a row. That's pretty cool.

Ya know, I'm just glad they don't call them A Cup, B Cup, C Cup, and D Cup. Maybe table that idea until we get a Conker racing game.

As with all of these, I take on the Mushroom Cup first. Baby Park? UUUGH.

Luigi Circuit is first up, again. "Fuck you, Mario Circuit! Fuck you!" said Luigi when reached for comment. "It's MY TIME!"

The ? blocks are back, as usual, as are the same powerups. The thing is, now you have two characters to a kart, and each can hold their own powerup. You can switch between them on the fly; not sure if this has much effect beyond which powerup is actively selectable.

For the most part, the main powerups I seem to be getting are bananas and green shells. My two least-favorite powerups. I'd say I get one of those two about 80% of the time, if not more. Played this game for a good two hours and never once got a power star or lightning bolt.

Editor's Note: I think that the powerups you get are better the lower your ranking is in the current race. If you're consistently in first, you'll consistently get the worst powerups.

Peach Beach is basically Isle Delfino's hub zone from Mario Sunshine. At the very least, it has pretty tropical colors. 

Isle Delfino here is bringing back horrible memories of hovering around with FLUDD. I wasn't that fond of Mario Sunshine, but I got through it.

The water in this game is SO Gamecube. It looks just like the water from Wind Waker. They must have had specific "water coding" at Nintendo that they used for all their games around this time. It's all good though, looks super-nice. 

Baby Park is the lamest track in the game. I'm not even going to talk about it... so there, Baby Park.

YES! A NON-ISLAND LEVEL! I'm a big fan of desert levels, as our heroes load a red shell for deployment. Go on, just try passing me. Make my day.

Hey, I bet this is the desert level from the background scenery of Super Circuit. It has the same giant Yoshi sphinx.

 The Gold is won fairly handily, with none of the races ever even being in doubt. The 50cc difficulty gets easier and easier with every game. At this point I'm going to need to turn it up to 100cc just to get the same difficulty I got out of 50cc in the original game.

Next up. Waluigi Stadium, huh? Not only is Waluigi roughly the most uninventive character in Nintendo history, but he's such a BASTION of uninventiveness that his level is just Wario Stadium revamped.

Look at the amount of lameness on this screen. I'll get back to Waluigi in a second, but look at Bowser Jr. This freakish little bastard is no Koopaling. Seriously. I'd take ANY Koopaling (except maybe Lemmy) over this guy. He's especially offensive because he outright -replaced- the Koopalings in the Mario series for a while.

As for Waluigi, it's clear he's supposed to be the evil counterpart of Luigi, much the way Wario is the evil counterpart of Mario. The thing is, Wario is a witty name because it flips the M over to denote an evil mirror universe version of Mario.

Waluigi, on the other hand, isn't even funny, and doesn't make sense. I know you can't flip an L over and have it be another letter, but just adding "Wa" to the beginning of names is stupid. Should we have Wabowser too? How about Wakoopa? Or Wadonkey Kong? Don't stop there! Who needs Boshi...Wayoshi could also be a villain! Imagination might completely die in the process, but we can just replace it with Bowser Jr.

In any case, for the Flower Cup I go with The Ladies. Here's Toadstool/Peach and Daisy (whose future evil versions will be named Wapeach and Wadaisy). They have a pimpin' car, and Daisy is a feisty redhead.

...wait a second, I thought these two were just different names for the same character? You mean they were different people all this time?

 The first stage is basically a highway. It's something you'd see in a regular racing game, and doesn't feel much like Mario Kart.

 Whoa! We're going through an underpass! You never see imaginative locales like this in real life! ...but seriously, there's a definite lack of imagination in this game compared to the earlier installments, if you look closely.

 Daisy blows kisses at the camera while shaking her ass. Oh man, the fanfiction that this probably created...

Our heroines pull up on Team Bowser to blast them with a shell. This is for all the kidnappings!

At one point, Daisy gets DRAGGED BEHIND THE KART until I come to a nearly full stop. Damn it! GET BACK ON!

Running into giant 3D goombas actually makes me wish I were playing a regular 3D mario game. Might be time to pop in Mario Galaxy again.

The castle from Mario 64 shows up here, but it looks...different. While the one you see in Mario Kart 64 is a spot-on reproduction, this one is just an odd facsimile. It's like seeing CGI Jabba the Hutt in the Star Wars re-releases. Oh God, CGI. You want to talk about the death of imagination, compare the CGI The Thing in the 2011 movie to the animatronic/practical effect The Thing in the 1982 John Carpenter movie. Yeah, CGI is crucial for some things, but there are other things that are much better when created with practical effects.

Here's Daisy's pleasure cruise, where she does bad Daisy things as we discover that Daisy is a 0.1 Percenter.

Our heroines careen down stairwells! I like that the clouds are so happy, and that the game has such vibrant colors. That said, thusfar the levels haven't been anywhere near as distinguishable as in previous games, and for the most part they all just seem to be island-themed. Just like everything in Mario Sunshine.

 Waluigi (sigh) Stadium is different from the constant islanding, at least, with giant pirahna plants that emerge from pipes.

The celebratory end-of-cup scenes in this game are straight out of Mario Sunshine, with those weirdass Isle Delfino people.

Clinton/Warren 2016 returns to celebrate their winning of the gold. Wait a minute, who's that driving the car?








Star Cup time. This is usually when the difficulty starts to really go up; we'll see if this game is the same way. It's definitely the best cup in this game on paper, with an ice level, a night-time city level, and the fun DK Mountain.

In the previous post I talked about how Donkey Kong in the Kart universe started out as Oldschool DK, but by 1994 everyone thought he was the DKC version of DK so they eventually just went with it. Perception is reality. In any case, Donkey Kong gets top billing for this cup. It's awesome that Diddy is along for the ride too. Diddy rules.

YES, ICE LEVEL. Something sorely missing from Mario Sunshine. This is a good companion to the earlier desert level (also missing from Mario Sunshine) in the variety department.

This might be the level I like most overall in this game. It's quite purdy, and I like the feeling of speeding around on ice. The only real competition it has...

 ...is this next level. It's a cityscape along the lines of what you usually see in racing games that transpire in the real world, and it really stands out in this game.

Yoshi Circuit is, unfortunately, back to the generic Mario Sunshine island theme. However, when it's the one track of the sort in a given cup, it's fine.

Worth noting is that when Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong collect a banana, it isn't just a regular banana. It's a SUPER BANANA, and it's huge. All of a sudden, the CONSTANT bananas that I get from ? boxes while in first place become a big help rather than a liability. This might be the Kongs' greatest strength as characters in this game.

Speaking of the Kongs, the next level is theirs. DK Mountain is yet another rad level, consisting of a huge barrel cannon shot over a large portion of the level. Unfortunately you can't control your trajectory, but it's still a lot of fun.

The rest of the stage is pretty awesome too. It's vibrant and nice to look at, and... WATCH OUT FOR THE CLIFF! NO! NOOOOOOOOOO! 

Wheras Super Mario Kart generally had the top few racers competing with each other for second (which diffused their scores a bit and made it easier to hold on to 1st), this game is fairly rigid in terms of which CPU opponents always finish in which spots. As a result, there's very little margin for error; if you do badly on one race, you're tanked, because the 2nd place competitors will pass you.

Bowser's Castle returns! And again, it takes penultimate billing to Rainbow Road. That aside, Wario Colosseum must be Wario's new lair since Waluigi kicked him out of Wario Stadium. I'm sure there's some storyline there pertaining to some Wario game that I haven't played or heard of... I wasn't really a Nintendo guy AT ALL for most of the 00's. I'm only recently catching up with them, sadly.

 For the Special Cup, no regular team will cut it. No, I need to unite the most unlikely team in Mario universe. It's time... for Mario and Bowser to join forces. For one night only, the greatest rivals in Mario-Land will be on the same page, with one singular goal:

To CONQUER THE STREAK To conquer Rainbow Road v4.

 Mario has a special power of his own, fireballs. He'll throw five of them at once that bounce across the track in a horizontal line. Unfortunately, they seem to have a hard time actually hitting anybody. Then again, I'm usually using it against one or two racers ahead of me. If I fell behind substantially, it might be a good crowd-clearing move.

As for Bowser's special, it turns the second-most common power, Green Shells, into massive spiky green shells. Again, this would be great for crowd-clearing if I fell behind a group. As things are, the giant shell actually causes me problems when I'm close to the lead. It bounces around like a regular green shell, and it's easy to have it come back to take ME out instead of foes.

 Bowser Castle itself is quite large, and has some series tropes like spinning fire chains.

The exterior has the same otherworldly forest of brambles that we've seen in the background of stages in earlier games. What is this hell dimension?

Finally, we arrive at Rainbow Road. Seeing how this looks in each game is half the fun of going through these. It has a very clear evolution. This time it's extremely vertical.

Rainbow Road has always been vertigo-inducing, but this takes things to another level. Don't fall off, don't fall off...

...OH GOD THEY FELL OFF

Our heroes recover from several falls to their deaths and eke out a win. Well, a "win". I came in second, but I was still ahead on points enough to take first overall surprisingly.

Mario and Bowser celebrate their victory. I thought Bowser might immediately Seth Rollins it by waffling our hero with a chair, but he doesn't. It's a NEW DAY!

Drink this in. Really, drink this in. It might be the only time we'll ever see them celebrate together outside of Super Mario RPG.

...

.....



Credits roll. We don't see their fates.

Oh yeah, actually we do. A huge party is thrown in front of the Fake Castle, as our heroes celebrate their... fun racing time, I suppose. This is a happy celebration, free of nefarity and evil aside from the ever-present malevolent scourge known as Toad.

Meanwhile, in the depths of the underworld.

Using a combination of human viscera and lost souls... Toad has manufactured a bride.


2 comments:

  1. If you mostly got bad items, does that mean you were mostly in first place?

    Toad is many.

    Well, 1992 Donkey Kong Jr. really was the old school version, that's why he had the tank top, while 1997's Donkey Kong is totally DKC version, like every version after him.

    For some reason, Nintendo thought that Bride of Toad was a good idea!

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  2. You seem to be right this was a creative nadir for Nintendo. Waluigi kinda sums it up, but we've gotten used to him and laugh about how weird and out-there his existence is. The DKs do seem like rad characters, and this game looks too easy--in previous titles you were always taking photos when you were still near the back.

    I do admit the Double Dash idea makes more physical sense for throwing weaponry but when I played it once I was not a big fan. Too much going straight forward, not enough curving to the left or right.

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