9) Mario Kart: Double Dash
Ahh this classic series of games is known to be responsible for loud screaming and fierce rivalries between friends. This superstar racing game features Super Mario and all of his friends and foes in their own karts flinging items from banana peels to turtle shells in order to prove who is the fastest on the track. The catch to this game is not how many characters you can play as in total, rather how many characters you can play as at the same time. In this game, you get 2 characters for the price of 1 kart. The duality of this game exists in the 2 characters that you choose to play as, as they each assume different responsibilities on the kart. Although pressing the Z button will cause your characters to change roles during the race, you initially choose 1 character to drive and 1 character to throw items. The controls remain the same as any other Mario Kart game, despite having to control twice as many characters at a single time.
So here is the grand question: If gameplay remains the same, what the hell is the point of choosing 2 characters instead of 1? And the answer to that question is not very obvious, but is very important;
This Mario Kart game is the first one to feature the idea that certain items are exclusive to only 1 character. This means that in addition to weight, the difference between selecting to play as Mario or selecting to play as Bowser is the difference between throwing fire balls and throwing a koopa shell. Character selection now involves memorizing the capabilities of the items exclusive to each character. But remember, you have 2 characters to pick. This means that you have to incorporate the potential of up to 2 exclusive items into your strategy. It is also important to know that although Mario and Luigi, for example, are 2 different characters, their “special items” are almost exactly the same. The pairing of 2 characters, each with a unique “special item” is crucial to developing the perfect racing duo. My favorite combo? Mario and Paratrooper.
Next we discuss the soundtrack and level design. I mean, it’s a Mario game…this is their specialty. Just like any other game that features the famed plumber, Mario Kart: Double Dash has incorporated only the brightest of colors and memorable musical scores in order to create the perfect family-friendly racing environment. There are 16 different tracks in total and in order to unlock every character and kart, you have to pretty much complete each track once on all 4 difficulties. That creates a game where you have to compete in 64 races total in order to experience it completely, not to mention the dreaded yet perfect solution to killing time with awkward cousins, ALL CUP. 1 circuit. Every track. 40 minutes. Damn. Despite the occasional feeling of déjà vu, the levels really never get old and the fun is prolonged depending on the amount of friends you have to play with.
Everyone has their favorite level, and of course Rainbow Road is reserved strictly for the ultimate Mario Kartists, but all-in-all, Double Dash keeps the bright and cheerful look of Mario alive through the clever color arrangements, memorable track designs, catchy and not annoying musical scores, and the placement of faces on EVERY single bit of scenery.