Mario Kart: Double Dash Download

I don’t care whether you’re 12 or 42, the day you get Mario Kart: Double Dash!! will feel like Christmas morning–pure, exhilarating glee will envelop your soul, demanding that you keep playing ‘just one more game’ into the wee hours of the morning. It’s that good. On the surface, the Mario Kart formula hasn’t changed much. Anyone who’s played one of the previous incarnations will immediately know what’s up with item boxes, power slides, boost pads, and the like. What really alters the game’s strategy is far more subtle: Selecting your characters and kart really matters. In previous games, you knew that a kart driven by a pipsqueak like Toad would handle differently than one manned by Bowser, but now, the pilot/gunner setup exponentially ups the variety. With light, medium, and heavy characters and karts to mix and match, you’ll have a blast experimenting with the vast possibilities. But I digress…just go ahead and stick, say, Koopa Paratroopa and Baby Luigi in a kickass baby carriage and hit the track. First, you’ll notice the smooth, vibrant visuals. These imaginative courses don’t exactly upstage the detailed worlds of Metroid Prime, but they adhere nicely to the Mario aesthetic. Course design runs the gamut from deceptively simple (the NASCAR-like simplicity of Baby Park) to the wonderfully insane (try racing through Daisy Cruiser, a tilting cruise ship, or rocketing down the no-rails cliffs of DK Mountain)–every track offers intense thrills. Of course, you’ll also slip right into the silky, responsive controls. Everything simply feels flawless, from the tricky-to-time starting boost to the crucial power slides. Gameplay this instinctive, fun, and balanced is tough to find. Speaking of balance, the difficulty level offers newbies and vets alike a sizable challenge. Racing in the pedestrian 50cc mode will help break you in, but once you jump to the faster, tougher 100cc and 150cc classes, prepare for serious competition. Unlike Mario Kart 64 lame A.I. opponents (who blatantly cheated to keep pace), the enemy drivers here earn their competitive nature through deft power slides, smart item usage, and some nasty fisticuffs. Luckily, you’re suitably rewarded for triumphing in the single-player game–unlockable characters, courses, karts, and modes abound. Man, I haven’t even gushed about the spectacular multiplayer action yet.. .so I’ll leave that to my fellow reviewers. I really can’t say enough good things about Double Dash!!–it’s an instant purchase, undoubtedly one of the most fun gaming experiences you’ll have this year, next year, and the year after that….

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