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Diddy Kong Racing, of the best racer for the N64
By Douglas Shepard (Editor in Chief, RarityGuide.com)
Published on 02/18/2009
Diddy Kong Racing, while stated to be a clone of Mario Kart 64, differs and holds its own ground with its own merits. This is why you should play this instead of Mario Kart.

System: Nintendo 64
Title: Diddy Kong Racing
Publisher: Rare
Circa: 1997
Overall Rating:
83 percent

Diddy Kong Racing Titlescreen 

Everyone in the holidays winds up with games you have to wonder why people would think you’d like a game. Sometimes the games, like in this case, prove to be very worthwhile, or other games, aren’t worth the plastic to make them. The initial perception of the game proved to be quick mistaken. While not Mario Kart, the game shows a good bit of potential. It was not what I expected from a game that boasted the style it did, but then and now I found myself enthralled with the game and one that I’m grateful that I kept through all these years. While this game was recently re-released on the DS, I still feel the original on the N64 is better for its control scheme and character selection (as Conker and Banjo had to be replaced because Rare has since left Nintendo).

Diddy Kong, of Donkey Kong fame, one day receives a letter from his friend Timber the Tiger. Timber tells him about an intergalactic racer, WizPig that has come and taken over his family’s island. The island’s best racer, Drumstick has already attempted to defeat this interloper, but has failed and was transformed into a frog. Timber wrote his other friends and rallied support so he could free his family’s island.

The game is broken up into a great number of races with a few vehicles to choose from. Each area is made up of multiple tracks that you need to beat, meeting different criteria. The initial races are just winning them, then having to collect balloons. Finally, after taking on the different courses, you go up against the boss of the area.

Vehicle Select

While this formula is repeated throughout, there are things that encourage you to keep at the game.
Each of the characters handles very differently. There are many different Rare-exclusive characters in this game, like Banjo and Conker (in his innocent days) as well some characters who are unique to the game itself.

Character Select

In the races itself, there are two features that help a lot in improvement of racing times and routes. The slide is the drift in the game, allowing for better cornering to retain a bit more speed. The other thing aspect of the game in the races would be the boost you can get in the beginning of the race. This trick takes some time to perfect but in the latter portion of the game and for the boss races, to make it more manageable and easier to beat. The computer will use this trick after the initial racing area so it’s easy to see the timing of when one would want to hit the button for the boost.

Race Start

The unique feature of this game that it has over Mario Kart is a unique item system. As you drive around and collect the item balloons, you get a more powerful version by collecting more of the same balloon. The booster last longer as you collect more balloons, with the rockets you get a homing missile then 3 rockets.
After you complete the main game, you’re given access to Adventure 2. This mode flips the courses and relocates the various collectable items. Nothing else really changes over the course of gameplay.

This game supports up to 4 players. This game allows each player to choose different vehicles, select one of the many tracks you’ve beaten. There are also specific battle tracks for you and your friends to use, so you’re not stuck racing all the while when playing this game.

The game has an appeal to an younger audience, so, it’s relatively easy to control. There are still aspects of the game, like the boost at the start and the slide technique that are going to be harder to master. I hadn’t played in years and was able to remember most of my tricks, if not the timing. Everything is easy to reach and use, it’s very hard to do some thing on accident.

The N64 was capable of decent graphics, and its one of the few things this game doesn’t cash in on.

Sound Effects & Music
The sound effects don’t really grate on you thankfully. While each vehicle has its own sound and every character has a voice, it doesn’t get overused and seems to be kept until it’s appropriate. The music does get somewhat old, but it’s not quite enough to get you to go for something else. Maybe for those extended periods, but not really on any other occasion. The music only changes a little on the last lap, picking up tempo, adding nicely to the tension of that part of any track.

Fallen into a more obscure category now, but at least somewhat known in the modern day.

Summary/Author’s Take
While I never asked for this game, I remember getting it and playing for months on end. It was one of the very few games that I was able to play with my siblings (who aren’t really into video games) and all of us could enjoy. They actually won sometimes, which speaks well for the layout and set-up of the game. That anyone could pick it up and enjoy it tells just how accessible the game is in earnest. If you haven’t had much of a chance to play this game, it’d be good to take the time to get it or at least borrow it from a friend.


80 percent

Simple, but not enthralling.


87 percent

Kid friendly, easy and enjoyable.


90 percent

Do so regularly.


87 percent

You won’t crash into the wall, trust me.


79 percent

Sub-par but doesn’t affect the game.

SFX and Music

81 percent



50 percent

Isn’t that only on the DS? No?


83 percent

A quiet racing game that is a nice gem.

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