Mario Kart Series Retrospective – Part 1


Mario Kart: Double Dash (GCN, 2003)

Mario Kart: Double Dash was a huge hit on the Gamecube when it debuted in 2003. It was the first and only game in the series to feature 2 characters in a single kart. It was also the first game to feature kart specific stats and unlockable characters, karts, and levels. I won’t get into the kart specific stats too much, but it’s really changed the strategy of the way Mario Kart games are played. It’s not just a character selection that you have to worry about, it’s the kart as well. 

The co-op feature of the game allowed for different perks like a starting boost when both players press the same button at the start of a race. Players also have the ability to snatch power-ups right out of other players’ hands.

Mario Kart: Double Dash

Game Modes

The team-based nature of Double Dash allowed for some special thing that hadn’t been seen before. Players could now enter the Mario Kart Grand Prix cooperatively with one player using items and the other driving. The allowed for up to 4 players in GP mode for the first time, even if it was just in 2 karts. The other option was to play competitively which only allowed for 2 players in GP mode.

Battle Mode was little different in this game with the original Balloon Blast mode being complemented by two other modes. Shine Thief involves capturing a Shine Sprite and maintaining possession of it for a set time period. Bob-omb Blast involves attacking other players while avoiding attacks on yourself.

In a series first, the Nintendo Broadband Adapter allowed the ability to have LAN matches with up to 8 consoles. It was a big achievement at the time and has been a big part of the game’s longevity over the years.

  • Mario Kart GP (1-4 Players) (50cc, 100cc, 150cc, Mirror)
  • Vs. (2-4 Players)
  • Time Trial (1 Player)
  • Battle (2-4 Players)


Mario Kart: Double Dash
Unlocked Teams
Mario (Medium) and Luigi (Medium)
Peach (Medium) and Daisy (Medium)
Yoshi (Medium) and Birdo (Medium)
Baby Mario (Light) and Baby Luigi (Light)
Koopa Troopa (Light) and Paratroopa (Light)
Donkey Kong (Heavy) and Diddy Kong (Light)
Wario (Heavy) and Waluigi (Medium)
Bowser (Heavy) and Bowser Jr. (Light)


Unlockable Teams 
Toad (Light) and Toadette (Light) 
King Boo (Heavy) and Petey Piranha (Heavy) 



There are 21 different karts in Double Dash and each of them represents a character (besides the Parade Kart). The Parade Kart is the only one that can be used by any of the characters.

Red FireMarioMedium
Green FireLuigiMedium
Heart CoachPeachMedium
Bloom CoachDaisyMedium
Turbo YoshiYoshiMedium
Turbo BirdoBirdoMedium
Goo-Goo BuggyBaby MarioLight
Rattle BuggyBaby LuigiLight
Toad KartToadLight
Toadette KartToadetteLight
Koopa DasherKoopa TroopaLight
Para WingKoopa ParatroopaLight
DK JumboDonkey KongHeavy
Barrel TrainDiddy KongLight
Koopa KingBowserHeavy
Bullet BlasterBowser Jr.Light
Wario CarWarioHeavy
Waluigi RacerWaluigiMedium
Piranha PipesPetey PiranhaHeavy
Boo PipesKing BooHeavy
Parade KartAllAll (Light, Medium and Heavy)


Mario Kart: Double Dash
Credit: The Gaming Geek

The All-Cup Tour is unlocked after beating the Special Cup on 150cc. It is comprised of all the tracks in the game back to back. 

Luigi CircuitMushroom BridgeSherbet LandWario Colosseum 
Peach BeachMario CircuitMushroom CityDino Dino Jungle 
Baby ParkDaisy CruiserYoshi CircuitBowser’s Castle 
Dry Dry DesertWaluigi StadiumDK MountainRainbow Road 


Battle Courses

  1. Cookie Land
  2. Block City
  3. Nintendo Gamecube
  4. Pipe Plaza
  5. Luigi’s Mansion (unlockable)
  6. Tilt-A-Kart (unlockable)
Mario Kart: Double Dash


There were a lot of special items in this game to go along with the team dynamic. Most of these items were never seen again in a Mario Kart game.

Normal Items 
Green Shell
Red Shell
Spiny Shell
Triple Mushroom
Banana Peel
Fake Item Box
Special ItemOwner
FireballMario & Luigi
Heart (New)Princess Peach & Princess Daisy
Yoshi Egg & Birdo EggYoshi & Birdo
Bowser’s Shell (New)Bowser & Bowser Jr.
Triple Green Shells & Triple Red ShellsKoopa Troopa & Paratroopa
Bob-omb (New)Wario & Waluigi
Giant Banana (New)Donkey Kong & Diddy Kong
Chain Chomp (New)Baby Mario & Baby Luigi
Golden MushroomToad & Toadette


While Mario Kart: Double Dash is an iconic multiplayer game in many respects, it is a departure from the roots of the series. Nintendo went back to one player per kart in every game after that and I can’t help but think they could have done more with this feature if it had been an option in later games. Sill, Double Dash is one of my favourites because of how different it was.

Keep an eye out for part 2 of our Mario Kart series retrospective in the coming days!