Diddy Kong Racing

by Eden
author awarded score: 70/100

Diddy Kong Racing DS Review
Developer: Rare
Publisher: Nintendo
Format: Nintendo DS
Review By: Eden

If the name sounds familiar that’s because this game first appeared on the Nintendo 64 way back in 1997 (yes, a decade ago people, we’re all getting old!). The title was a smash, beating all sales record for the time period and was found atop many a gamers Xmas 1997 lists, including this gamers. Unlike Mario Kart, Diddy Kong Racing offered an adventure style of racing game-play as well as various vehicles. This brought a freshness to the genre and the tight controls made it an instant classic.

What’s changed? Well not too much. What you have here is the standard Diddy Kong Racing experience, for the most part, with the addition of some new tracks and characters and the omission of others. That said we’ll now cover some silly additions in the next section.

DS means touching is good… No! touching is not good! Why on earth add in silly mini games and other controls that utilize the touch screen. Yes the DS has the touch screen feature and a microphone, but just because they’re there doesn’t mean they need to be used. Some of these aspects certainly detract from what could have been a superb gaming experience, sadly these sections just tend to irritate at times and seemingly have no real purpose. They also break up whatever flow you were feeling.

Pretty colours… Yes Diddy Kong Racing DS features some lovely colourful graphics in a cartoon manner, but where are Conker and Banjo! Why Rare left off two of their most famous characters is anyone’s guess. Perhaps Conker was too busy whoring around and getting plastered to show up for work. That said all the characters that did make it do the job and at least you can play a female character if you like, even if she is sickeningly cute (as they all are, but then so are the males one).

There’s that music again… When you first load Diddy Kong DS, those of you that played the N64 version will be instantly taken back to those good ole cartridge lovin days as the familiar Diddy Kong theme jingles along. There are some new tunes, but they all follow the familiar happy jiggy feel of the originals. The sound effects are all well done, nothing really to complain or boast about too much. You can tweak the sound effects and in game music in your options should one or the other become overbearing. The hard-of-hearing or deaf gamer will have no problems playing Diddy Kong Racing and will be equally as irritated at certain minigames as their hearing counterparts.

Female gamers? Whoever heard of such a thing… As just mentioned, the female gamer can fun herself by choosing one of the female characters in the game. These include the sickening cute yellow mouse Pipsy, the rather freaky looking Dixie Kong (essentially Diddy Kong in a pink top) or Tiny Kong, taller and thinner version of the aforementioned Dixie, she has longer hair and is allegedly Dixie’s younger sister. That’s your lot girl gamers. Not that it matters really given the lack of characterisation as such, I chose to play Timber anyway, despite preferring to play female characters usually, that little guy is just so damn cute and he drives like there’s a tiger in his tank (pun me baby one more time).

More people more fun… not necessarily. I took the game online a few times, purely for the review and it worked well enough. Let’s face it though, Diddy Kong Racing has always been about the main solo progressive adventure mode, and the same rule applies here if you’re looking for any depth. This is where you’ll collect everything that needs collected and unlock new course doors. That said if you like multi-player gaming, you can play with up to 5 other people via the wifi service or up to 7 other players over multi-card or download play (though I only tried this with one other person and it worked extremely well).

What’s the skinny? Well it comes down to whether or not you really want to be playing a 10 year old kart racer on your handheld. Sometimes older is better, because it goes back to a basic formula anyone can handle and have fun with. Or it’s old rehashed trash to make a little extra money for the developer and publisher. This title is a little mix of both. For the old skool gamer it’s got bags of fun, cute graphics and races aplenty, as well as some cool vehicles (kart, plane, or a hovercraft). For the new gamer that expects more, this is formulaic karting with a dodgy touch screen mini game interface attached for no good reason other than it’s there. For that reason it’s actually pretty difficult to score, because there are those of you who will love this classic title in your pocket and those, like myself who thought it was an above average romp, only really ruined by the addition of silly touch screen / microphone mini games. Whilst thinking a 6 might do it, it just doesn’t seem enough given the hours of joy this title has brought me over the last month or so since importing it. For that reason it’s getting a healthy 7 out of 10 from me, worth a purchase if you love karting titles.