Feature: Why we need Mario Kart: Double Dash!! 2
We've got Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - what's next for the series on Nintendo Switch?
9 January 2018 – by Jack Dawson Taylor
Here's a fun fact: Nintendo Switch is the only system to get a port of an existing Mario Kart game (Virtual Console reissues notwithstanding). It's a decision that makes perfect sense given the low sales of Wii U - and of Mario Kart 8 as a result - and a few extra additions here and there have made for a hugely popular multiplayer racer in the Switch's first year. However, every console since the Super Nintendo - and every handheld since the Game Boy Advance - has had a new, original Mario Kart title, so surely the Switch needs to follow suit at some point. Let our voices be heard: it's time for Mario Kart: Double Dash!! 2 to join the starting grid.
This might seem like something of a crackpot idea, but it does follow in the footsteps of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, which was a fairly safe bet for Nintendo. Of course, there'll have been plenty of effort put into its development - we'd expect nothing less - but the vast majority of the content was already in place. This means that Nintendo Switch already has a highly entertaining and long-lasting Mario Kart experience under its belt, and that, in turn, means that Nintendo can do things a little differently for the console's original Mario Kart entry. You could argue that retreading old ground in the form of sequel to Mario Kart: Double Dash!! is also playing it safe to a degree, but there are multiple reasons why Switch is the most perfect system for such an experience.
Double the drivers, double the items
The most unique aspect of Mario Kart: Double Dash is its two-driver approach, as each kart has space for one driver in the front and one in the back, the latter of whom can pick up item boxes while the other drives. It also introduced the double item boxes which made their return in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and it's possible to switch drivers around, thereby changing the item you're able to use next. For one thing, having just brought back double item boxes, the natural next step would be to provide some way of switching between your two items, and Double Dash's method - having two drivers, each holding one item - is a great way of doing that.
Take it another step further, and bring back Double Dash's character-unique items, some of which (such as fireballs and Bob-ombs) have made their way into the standard item set. We still miss the Yoshi or Birdo Egg, an item much like a Red Shell but that spits out three items when it breaks, and the item-absorbing Hearts that Peach and Daisy can obtain. With plenty of characters joining the series since 2003, it'd be a great opportunity to bring back some characters and add a few more wacky items - Petey Piranha could come back with a giant Piranha Plant, or the Honey Queen could have some sort of honey pot item to slow racers down if they drive over it.
Two players, two controllers, no problem
One of the Switch's biggest benefits is the inclusion of two controllers with every system thanks to the ingenious design of the Joy-Con, and this can really play into Nintendo's hands when it comes to co-op play. When playing two-player on Double Dash, you can either control one kart each, or one driver each on the same kart; while we thought the latter method was slightly lacking in our review of the game, a return for the idea could prove spectacular, as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe introduced an auto-accelerate option, which would benefit players who aren't as confident switching between item management and driving.
In addition, Nintendo Switch supports up to eight Joy-Con at once, so with four-player split-screen, you could potentially have eight players controlling eight racers - we've no idea if it would work in practice, but heck, we'd love it if it did. It'd make for a lot of fun in battle modes as well - and again, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe has sown the seeds for a potential return here, as all three of Double Dash's battle modes are present in Deluxe.
How many tracks?!
Ever since Mario Kart DS, each new entry in the series has had 32 tracks, with 16 new tracks and 16 from previous games. Mario Kart 8 and Deluxe both feature 48 tracks thanks to the addition of a further 16 through add-on content, and we think 48 is a good number to stick with for a potential Double Dash sequel; however, given some of the great revamps the Double Dash tracks have had since Mario Kart 64, we think it'd be great to bring in all 16 Double Dash tracks alongside around 20 new tracks and around 12 other returning tracks.
Similarly, the battle mode could benefit from a larger number of courses to be chosen from, as we'd love to see returning Double Dash courses such as Pipe Plaza and Luigi's Mansion alongside the likes of Double Deck, Skyscraper, Delfino Pier, and more. Many of the new battle courses introduced in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are fantastic, and we'd be gutted if Battle Stadium and Dragon Palace in particular didn't make a return.
New modes and features galore
Something else we'd love to see return is the Mission Mode from Mario Kart DS, which tasked players with completing various different goals or beating bosses. There hasn't been anything else like it in the series since, although Mario Kart Wii featured an online Tournament Mode with some similarities; a brand new mode along these lines would bring fantastic benefits to the single-player campaign of a game that already thrives in the multiplayer environment. It could potentially even be used to unlock special characters or karts, by defeating certain bosses or winning races against more difficult enemies; while there's certainly plenty to unlock in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the random nature of unlocking kart parts isn't quite as exciting as collecting items for winning grands prix or beating staff ghosts.
While plenty of Nintendo Switch fans don't expect another Mario Kart title on the system, we're in the camp that thinks the system is still in need of an original entry for the series, despite the fact that Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an utterly fantastic game. As we mentioned at the top, because of the fact that Nintendo no longer needs to worry about providing a top-notch Mario Kart game for the Switch, it can afford to take more risks with a potential new entry, and we've love to see a Mario Kart with more of the spirit that made it so wacky and fun in the first place.