Mario Kart. Local. Eight of us. It seemed like a dream was coming true. For years, I had battled my brother in Super Mario Kart. For years, I had fought franticly with three friends on Double Deck in Mario Kart 64. And now the GameCube was here and it brought us Mario Kart: DoubleDash!! with two exclamation marks, because in Double Dash everything is doubled. Even the German version of the box promised somewhat clumsily: “Double cast – Double fun!” – However, inconsistently with only one exclamation mark. Twice as many characters per kart (2), twice as many items (a lot), twice as many exclamation points as grammatically permissible (2) – and twice as many local teammates (eight!!!!!!!!).
How does that work with four controller ports? The magic word is: peripherals. I am an accessory grump. No 64DD, no microphones, keyboards and cameras (with printer). I don’t want it and it is usually way too expensive for the two and a half uses. But in this case, temptation beat skepticism. Some fan magazine had revealed it to me: With this particular device, you could connect two GameCubes locally and then play Mario Kart with eight people. Twice as much fun!
The news made the rounds in the schoolyard, and a second GameCube and eight controllers were quickly procured. Seven enthusiastic gamers and Moritz arranged to meet for a big battle at my parents’ house. Moritz always came in last, and the prospect of always making eighth instead of just fourth place was not very uplifting.
I had gone to the local electronic store. Between pointless steering wheels and cheap controllers with useless tubrobuttons, I found what I was looking for. I had memorized the packaging. Two TVs, two GameCubes, eight controllers, drinks and snacks were waiting for me at home. The fun would soon commence. The enthusiastic friends arrived, Moritz arrived, and we got ready for the ultimate battle.
Although both consoles were connected via adapter, the game did not boot. We checked the cable. We made serveral reboots. Moritz had used up the last bit of patience and we played through the possibilities increasingly hectic. Should we revisit the store to exchange the unusable device? But then my tech-savvy friend had an idea – why go through that trouble when you can unscrew the expensive adapter, disconnect the cables and reattach them the other way around? After all, it’s the most plausible thing that the cables were attached faulty at the factory in Japan. That must be it. Since he knew so much about how broadband adapters work, he trusted himself to diagnose and operate. Three factors made me agree:
- I was not old and self-confident enough to recognize obvious guff from supposed experts.
- I was blind with greed for a proper battle of eight.
- I was very worried that Moritz would leave.
He screwed, cut, reconnected, screwed.
We started over.
It did not work.
Then I discovered what had really happened.
This is the package of the broadband adapter:
This is the package of the modem adapter:
Well played, Nintendo.
The Modem Adapter is one of those devices that feeds my attitude towards console accessories. A very expensive device that is only there to play the GameCube port of the Dreamcast game Phantasy Star Online, well…. online. To this day, I can’t believe the store assumed anyone would stray to them to buy this device.
There we sat. With a destroyed adapter for Phantasy Star Online, 60 euros burned, a wasted afternoon, two switched-off TVs, seven disappointed boys and a quite satisfied Moritz. For once, he hadn’t come in last.
That was in 2003, when Mario Kart Double Dash!! was released for the GameCube. I don’t know what happened to the remains of the modem adapter. Looking back, it would have been best if we had all pooled for a broadband adapter and repeated the event. Maybe we would have had many afternoons of great fun with it. We didn’t. All that remains is frustration.
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