I love playing video games, though I’m not really in step with that culture anymore. That’s because at my core I’m a Nintendo man. While my college classmates were playing Halo long into the night, I was obsessed with Super Smash Bros. Melee, and especially with Mario Kart Double Dash.
Double Dash is still one of my favorite Mario Kart titles ever, partially because of my fond memories, but also because I loved all-cup challenge. That was a gauntlet through all 16 courses, usually taking 30-40 minutes. It’s just about the perfect single-player mode for those of us who preferred racing to battle mode. I find myself wishing that Mario Kart Wii had the same thing, because I actually like the courses and racing a little more on that version, and I’ve had a lot of good times with the online mode.
The other big draw for Double-Dash was the co-op mode, which some people thought was kind of a gimmick. In hindsight it was a true Nintendo kind of move, allowing very casual players to take part in the experience. I could never pay my sister to race against me in Mario Kart, but she loved to take the role the second racer and launch attacks from the back of the kart. I actually found myself unable to beat the All-Cup Challenge in Mirror Mode until a friend of mine finally teamed up and helped me.
Most of my Gamecube games have been traded away, though I held on to a few controllers and favorite titles to play now and then on our Wii. Double Dash was one of those games, but I hadn’t played it for a couple of years until the other night. I dusted it off and did the All-Cup Challenge once again. I was pretty rusty too, which makes sense since my fingers were more used to playing the Wii version.
This morning I found myself having to stay home from work with our two boys, since our daycare provider was sick. It occurred to me that The Big One, who turns four in March, might enjoy taking control of the racer in back. We picked a couple of drivers and ran the Star Cup. For those who haven’t played, this is a pretty easy job. Just about every button on the gunner’s controller fires, and all you need to do is time it properly and maybe aim now and then. My son actually did alright. Well, I mean he didn’t actively detract from the team and he made a couple of great shots. I had to tell him if I wanted him to hold on to something for a bit, and I didn’t bother trying to teach him how to do the power slide with two people. But we both had a lot of fun, and he’s really excited to play again.
So Double Dash continues to be a game that keeps on giving. Some people feel that video games create anti-social troglodytes, and given the discourse in some online games that’s not hard to argue against. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the age of online games a lot of people have forgotten the joy of playing a video game sitting next to someone, and I got to experience just a little bit of that with my son this morning. No guns, no violence, no adult themes. Just the pure joy of nailing Donkey Kong with a red shell up his tailpipe.