Mad Dash Racing fills the same niche that previous games like Sonic R for the Saturn or Running Wild for the PlayStation were after. The name of the game is foot racing, and Mad Dash is filled with cartoon-style characters that run, jump, and skid their way through large, shortcut-filled tracks. The resulting racer is a good-looking game with good split-screen multiplayer but a relatively dull single-player game.
The story, while pretty much unnecessary, involves a collection of mutant animal racers, including Chops, a gassy hog, Clawdius, a lisping lion, and Faze, an alien creature. This pack of racers has collected on an island at the request of Hex, an evil wizard hoping to use the racers to collect pieces of a red meteor that will, of course, give Hex immeasurable power. Each race ends with one meteor chunk in the adventure mode, and it's up to you to finish first in each race to collect all the chunks, unlocking new racers and tracks along the way. The racers are broken up into three categories: Dashers can unleash a super speed burst at the touch of a button, bashers can break through walls and knock opposing racers out of the way, and gliders can spread their arms at the top of a jump and glide ahead of the pack. Small meteor chunks are laid all over the track, and holding 10 of them lets you execute all three types of special moves, but you lose meteors whenever you wreck or fall off the edge of the world. Certain shortcuts on the tracks can be taken only by using one of the three special moves, so getting and maintaining your 10-meteor count is vital to getting the best track times. Rounding out your abilities is a collection of power-ups. Aside from basic turbo boosts, there are projectile attacks, shields, and the ever-deadly psycho chicken attack.
Aside from merely finishing tracks to proceed, the adventure mode has different challenges for each level. There are cash-collecting challenges, stunt challenges, and time-based challenges. Completing these is another way to open up tracks and racers. Outside of the adventure mode, you can play any unlocked track with up to four players in the versus mode. The racer AI, adjustable to three settings, doesn't make for terribly interesting races, so playing with multiple players is playing the game at its best.
Mad Dash Racing has a nice, cartoonlike look to it without resorting to the overt cel shading that has become all too common in cartoon-emulating games these days. The racers look cool and have quite a lot of personality. The game's tracks are huge and full of shortcuts, and they make good use of varied textures and environments to keep the long tracks from becoming tiresome too quickly. The game's frame rate drops here and there, but not enough to really cause a problem.
The game's sound is a little lacking, as most of the character voices tend to get old fast. The game's soundtrack makes up for this with a few great electronic tracks from artists such as The Crystal Method, Propellerheads, Fat Boy Slim, Moby, and Juno Reactor. The only real soundtrack problem is that tracks don't move from one to the next throughout a race. One song will merely loop throughout the race.
Mad Dash Racing is a competent racing game, but its single-player gets pretty dull, especially once you've unlocked most of what the game has to offer. If you're the sort of person who likes to play kart-racing games with three other people, then Mad Dash will definitely fill that need.