Released around the Christmas of 1997, Diddy Kong Racing (N64) left its main competitor Mario Kart in the dust. Many may disagree, but I’m here to explain why Diddy Kong Racing is my favourite N64 Kart racer.
Another Rare Sight to Behold
Developer Rare had their head screwed on when developing this game. They used this title to introduce many of their new platform characters. These included Banjo from Banjo-Kazooie and Conker from Conkers Bad Fur Day as well as the lesser-known Pocket Tales. Other characters were the usual array of colourful cute critters that buffed out the roster with varying stats and personalities. My personal favourite was TipTup, a turtle who just seemed to have the competitive edge over others.
Diddy Kong Racing Full of Adventure!
Once you select your character, you can choose between a standard race or the one of a kind adventure mode. Adventure mode gracefully incorporates a storyline into a racing game. This is something that hasn’t really been done successfully since. In adventure mode, an evil alien pig, namely WizPig is trying to take over the world! He intends to do so by conquering every race track on Timber Island.
Before you can stop WizPig there are 5 worlds to race through, each with their own boss. Tricky the Triceratops, Bubbler the Octopus, Bluey the Walrus and Smokey the Dragon. The boss levels were a great addition to the game! You have to use different strategies to beat each one.
Diddy Kong Racing – Land, Sea & Air
Unlike Mario Kart, you are not tied down to the one vehicle. You can select from a hovercraft, kart or plane through many of the levels. The level designs were perfectly thought out. Each is a colourful, vibrant world that is well balanced no matter which vehicle you’re using. If you want that extra bit of fun, opt for the plane. Fly over the other racers and shoot down from above.
In another comparison to Mario Kart, the weapon pickups were again better throughout. These balloon pickups had not only a standard weapon but an element of strategy to them. If you pick up more than one of the same colour before using it, you get an even better attack or shield. Pick up one red balloon, you get a missile. Pick up another, you get a homing missile. 3 gets you 10 missiles! I always found that holding out for the top weapon tier was usually the best option.
The music accompanies the level design nicely and the two together really brings you into the world of Diddy Kong Racing. I love the way that Boulder Canyon and the level selection world would change music at specific parts. It keeps the same tempo and tune but changes instruments to enhance the mood. This was a sound technique that Rare used in many of its games including Banjo Kazooie.
A Rewarding Racer
Like any good game, Diddy Kong Racing has unlockables to provide longevity in its gameplay. There are 2 characters to unlock including Drumstick the rooster (who was turned into a frog by WizPig), and T.T. the time attack clock. I never actually unlocked T.T. who, I hear has the best stats out of any other character. I can safely say that Drumstick isn’t all that though.
Other gameplay elements such as Adventure mode 2 are unlocked after completing the game for the first time. This adds even more fun for the DKR fans. Adventure Mode 2 has a harder difficulty and the levels themselves are mirrored to confuse you.
A Verdict on Diddy Kong Racing
You already know how I feel about Diddy Kong Racing. Overall, I lost many months playing this game both on the single adventure mode and the 4 player mode with my friends. If you don’t own this game but love the Mario Kart series, I would highly recommend it to you. It may look childlike on the surface but it holds great elements that for me surpass the other great karting games on the system.