A while ago, videos surfaced online of a Mario Kart VR experience playable over in Japan. As exciting as it was to see, it’s still not available in any form over here in Australia (or anywhere else in the world for that matter). In excellent news, Dash Dash World fills the VR kart-racing void in a fantastically fun way. While it certainly borrows elements from other kart racers that have helped to define the genre, the experience of racing against your friends online in your VR headset is currently unrivalled, and makes the game one of the most compelling multiplayer romps you can pick up.
Kart racing is a natural fit for the platform, and Dash Dash World does a great job of making it as accessible and straight-forward as possible. There’s modes to get comfortable and get used to the experience, especially if this is one of your first forays into VR, which is helpful. Offline, there’s a story mode that teaches you the ropes while also giving you a variety of challenges, whether it’s using power-ups, drifting, or just placing well in the race.
As far as kart racing goes, it includes the staples you’d expect, and they all feel slick. You can drift around tight corners, which can give you an important edge against other racers. Boosting panels are littered around the track. You can draft by using your opponents slipstream so that you can slingshot through them. You can jump over a ramp and steer your glider to a perfect landing. Then, there’s all of the weapons. There is a good mix of hazards that you can throw onto the track to slip up other racers, and other nuisances like a chomper that stops them from using items of their own. Drinking an energy drink gives you a power-up, and then you have your own additional boost button that gets charged throughout each race.
Where you’ll spend the most time (and where I definitely saw hours fly by like they were minutes) was within the games online multiplayer modes. Competitive modes and tournaments are available, and it is easy to jump into a race with strangers, as well as friends. I found the community that I came across to be pretty friendly across the board – kart racing clearly doesn’t generate the same kinds of people as say, Call of Duty.
The benefit of a kart racer for less-energetic people like me is that the entire game is played sitting down, and there is a lot of satisfaction that comes from Dash Dash World being in the first person perspective. As your race fills with opponents at the starting line, it’s a genuine kick looking to each side and seeing other racers ready to go. Once racing, you can use the control stick to steer, which I personally found preferable to the recent addition where you can use both hands on the steering wheel for those looking for more immersion. I personally found it easier to use items and keep track of what I was doing without having to worry about that extra layer of control.
“…there’s a bucket-load of content that you can get stuck into.”
There’s a frantic and pleasing balance between racing fast, quickly using available items and trying to disrupt those around you. VR allows for some fun moments, like literally grabbing an item and throwing it at a racer nearby, hitting them with a frying pan or grabbing onto a gun before literally aiming and shooting at them. You can even use an item in each hand if you’re game, but that’s far too coordinated for me. Much like other kart racers, there is an element of luck that comes with each race, but I never felt that competitive frustration I get with games like Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing. It just feels colourful and friendly, and I never had that “this is unfair” feeling the genre often causes.
The large amount of unique tracks, power-ups, characters and constant stream of multiplayer competitors makes for a fairly riveting experience, and unlike other VR games that may have a barrier for entry when it comes to difficulty or motion sickness, Dash Dash World makes total sense for newcomers while still being fun for experienced gamers. There’s a Pro Racing mode that is for more seasoned racers, along with online leaderboards and regular events to get involved with, so if you enjoy what the racing here has to offer, there’s a bucket-load of content that you can get stuck into.
Dash Dash World has its own cartoon-like style that fits the genre well, but it’s the customisation that really makes it pop. You can adjust your car, the wheels, your character and their outfit, even the horn on your car or the emotes you can use. There’s a near mind-boggling amount of combinations and options, which can be purchased if you’re impatient or just earned by playing the game and earning coins. I never felt the need to shell out actual cash, always unlocking more and more options to customise my racer without really trying too hard. It’s a constant flor of endorphin-triggering loot boxes and goodies.
The tracks as well have been created with VR in mind; in one course, a gigantic DJ overlooks the track and shoots laser-beams at you. Another track has a dragon flying through the sky above you. It’s one thing to have these elements as set dressing in any other racing game, but the experience is heightened by the fact that you’re physically looking up at these additions while you drift around corners. It’s colourful, zany and fun, capturing what makes kart racing games so fun to begin with and never taking itself too seriously.
If you’re looking for an addition to your VR library that is just a genuinely good time solo or with friends, Dash Dash World is a solid choice. It takes the concept of kart racing and successfully makes it thrive in a virtual reality headset. With a lot of customisation, heaps to unlock, a large variety of tracks and power-ups along with an impressive suite of game modes whether it’s online or offline, plus ongoing content from the developers, this has quickly become a regular go-to on my Oculus Quest 2 and is an easy recommendation for casual or serious gamers alike.
Dash Dash World is awesome. I haven’t had this much fun with a kart racing game in a very long time.
Dash Dash World is available for Oculus Quest – check it out.