Platforms: Nintendo 64/ Nintendo DS
Reviewed on: Nintendo 64
Diddy Kong Racing, oh how the nostalgia is strong with this game. As I’ve stated before I never had a Nintendo 64 growing up, instead one of my best friends at the time did. I often went round her house after school and we’d spend pretty much the rest of the day playing on it. In particular this was one game we always played.
Mario Kart 64 was probably peoples go to racing game at the time but Diddy Kong Racing always stood out more to me. First of all it’s a racing game with a story, you actually have a reason to be racing on all these wacky courses and that in itself made it all the more memorable. Yeah it was a racing game but there was so much more to it than just standard racing.
The story is a pretty crazy one. Essentially Timber the Tigers island is taken over by the evil pig-wizard suitably named Wizpig (That’s a sentence I never thought I’d have to say). Timber gathers his friends up as they tackle various races and try to reclaim the island from Wizpig. Okay so it is nothing special story wise but growing up this was more than enough to keep me hooked. Already this racing game has more depth then most did at this time. Story is progressed by beating all the races in an area which unlocks the areas boss (and they are no pushover). Beating the boss a first time unlocks a new challenge which when completed grants you the chance to race a harder version of the boss. Successfully completing the rematch wins you an amulet piece used to race Wizpig.
It only gets better from there. Rare really know how to take a game and give it a whole host of new twists. Diddy Kong Racing lets you race in three different vehicles. Cars, Planes and Hovercrafts. In the story mode at least, each track has a pre-selected vehicle but you use each one multiple times, they all control different so it always kept things fresh and made each race more challenging and entertaining to play. Cars race like you would expect, they can drift around the track and get a boost upon completing a successful drift. Planes do what you would expect, they can fly. You have the option to do a loop in the plane to get a boost, it is the equivalent of the cars drift really but worse. Finally the hovercraft (the worst of them all) performs best on the water, it steers really awkwardly and feels “floaty” so to speak. Regardless they all bring something new to the game and each course was clearly designed with them all in mind.
Speaking of courses, the tracks are fantastic. They start of pretty simple but as the game progresses they get more crazy incorporating loops and all kind of set pieces. Each area features four courses all with a distinct theme (Dinosaurs, snow, oceans, village and future). Tracks within the same area all feel different whilst keeping the overall theme in tact. Rare really are great at level design no matter what type of game it and it really does show. You know what else Rare are good at? Music. David Wise composed the music for this game and all the music accompanies the tracks perfectly. If you listen to any song you can instantly tell what area of the game it would belong in.
Overall I have little complaints on the technical side of things however I do have a few grips of my own with the game in general. For the vast majority of the game the difficulty curve balances out nicely, races start easy then get progressively harder. Fair Enough. The bosses are expected to be harder but some of them in particular just throw the difficulty spike out the window and do what they want, like seriously they were hard (Do not get me started on Wizpig). Some of the bosses are just aggressive in their attacks, some begin the race before the countdown had finished and others are just ridiculously fast. No wonder I couldn’t beat this game as a kid, even replaying it today I struggle with this. Ramp the difficulty up to much and you are going to turn players away from the game. Honestly that is pretty much my main complaint with the game.
If you never got the chance to play this game growing up then you missed out on a great racing game. Diddy Kong Racing is somewhat hard to find these days, you could probably find the DS version with relative ease but I cant say how that game plays compared to the original. Should the chance ever happen and you manage to find this game then I would certainly suggest getting it because simply put it is fantastic.