Diddy Kong Racing DS is an OK racer with plenty to do, but the ridiculous number of tasks you have to do to enjoy all of it may irritate those who just want to race.
- Staggering number of activities
- fun and addictive touch-screen collection stages
- neat customization features
- Online multiplayer is fun and works well, despite some minor flaws.
- Some of the touch-screen controls are stupid
- unlocking content gets tedious
- No multiplayer chat makes it difficult to set up races
- Driving around the island looking for things to do gets old .
Many of Rare's fans were deeply saddened when Microsoft purchased the company in 2002, thinking that no more Rare games would ever find their way onto a Nintendo system again. While Rare hasn't been making any games for Nintendo's home consoles, it has released a handful of games for the Game Boy Advance, and now, the Nintendo DS, as well. Diddy Kong Racing was released to mixed reviews on the Nintendo 64 in 1997. Almost 10 years later, the game is back, having gotten a touch-up similar to what Nintendo did with Super Mario 64 DS. The core game is mostly unchanged, but there are new race modes, new characters, touch-screen controls, and even online multiplayer. If you didn't like the original game, there's nothing here that's going to change your mind, and it's certainly no threat to the Mario Kart series, but it is a solid racing game that, good or bad, has enough content to keep you busy for a very long time.
There are eight characters playable from the outset: Diddy Kong, Pipsy, TipTup, Dixie Kong, Timber, Tiny Kong, Bumper, and Krunch; Banjo and Conker, who were in the original, are nowhere to be found. Unlike most racing games, Diddy Kong Racing has a story to explain why you're racing. It seems that a giant evil pig named Wizpig has taken control of an island that is inhabited by cute little talking animals. Because living on an island ruled by an evil giant pig stinks, the animals send a letter to Diddy Kong, who quickly rounds up his friends so that they can race each other and then race and defeat Wizpig. Nobody tells Diddy his plan doesn't make any sense, so they head off to save the day. Once you're on the island, a flamboyant purple elephant-genie named Taj guides you through the basics and sends you on your racing quest. Now you know why most racing games don't have a story. The premise is completely absurd and doesn't make a lick of sense, but outside of the opening cutscene, there's thankfully very little story exposition.
Rather than letting you choose a series of races from a menu, Diddy Kong's races are located in themed hubs (snow, dinosaur, beach, volcano...), which are spread across the island. The island is large, but it's mostly devoid of things to do, and it gets tedious driving from one hub to the next. Upon entering a hub, you'll see large doors with a numbered balloon on them. This number indicates how many balloons you need to have acquired before you can enter that specific race. Balloons are earned mostly by winning races, but there are a few loose balloons around the island, and you can also earn some by winning Taj's challenges. If you don't have enough balloons to enter a race or you're stuck on one particular race, you can drive to another hub where there's usually something else you can do. There's no prize for second place, so you'll have to win to earn a balloon.
Upon entering a door, you're taken to a race where you'll have to pilot a kart, hovercraft, or plane to victory. Each vehicle has its own distinct handling, and for the most part, they handle well, though the kart and plane are much more fun than the hovercraft. One of the lamest new features is the prerace boost. You'll need to blow into the microphone if you're driving the hovercraft to get a little extra speed. To boost your kart, you rapidly move the stylus or your finger downward, as if you're spinning a tire. You move your finger or stylus in a circular motion to simulate spinning a propeller when you're piloting the plane. It's a pain to transition from holding the stylus to driving, and it doesn't work all that well anyway, so the feature adds absolutely nothing to the game. Once the race starts, you'll find that Diddy Kong plays like most other kart racers. You can drive over pads to get a boost, as well as fire missiles and drop mines and oil slicks. Rather than rewarding the last-place driver with the best weapons, anyone can get the good power-ups by collecting multiple power-up balloons of the same color or by collecting upgrade tokens. The races are generally close, and they're rarely frustrating, thanks to the limited use of catch-up artificial intelligence. Every once in awhile, a race will be difficult, but it usually doesn't take more than a few tries to beat it.
Once you've cleared each of the races in the hub, you can take on a boss, like a dragon or an octopus, in a head-to-head race. Your reward for beating the boss is to do each course again. But this time, you'll be riding on a self-guided magic carpet, and all you need to do is pop dozens of balloons that are placed along the course by tapping the screen with your stylus. You can also collect coins by dragging them into your wallet in the corner of the screen. These challenges are quite simple, but they're fun and very addicting, especially if you're trying to pop every single balloon. Hopefully you enjoy the balloon challenges, because the game gets tedious after that.
After popping balloons, you'll have to take on that area's boss again. This time it'll be a little harder, but still not overly difficult. Once you've won, you have to race all of that hub's races again, but this time you'll do it back-to-back in a tournament format. Your reward for winning? You race the boss again. It would be bad enough if you were to just race, but on the third go-around, you view the action from above and race with your stylus. You have to spin a small wheel in the corner to get some speed and then draw a path for your driver to follow. This doesn't sound so bad at first, but when your kart slows down, the tire appears again and you have to spin it some more. While you're doing this, you can't drive your kart, so you'll end up driving off the course or ramming obstacles while you're spinning the tire. To make matters worse, your kart doesn't seem to follow your path very well. Suffice it to say, the whole process is a complete and utter mess and totally not fun.
- Player Reviews: 122
- Game Universe:
- Donkey Kong Jr. (ERDR, ARC, INTV, NES, 2600, 7800, CVIS, FDS, A800, BBC),
- Donkey Kong Country (GBC, SNES, GBA),
- Donkey Kong 3 (ERDR, ARC, NES),
- Donkey Kong (GB, NES, INTV, C64, ARC, 2600, 7800, CVIS, ERDR, FDS, A800, APL2, PC, TI, VC20),
- Donkey Kong Jr. Math (NES),
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble (SNES),
- Donkey Kong Racing (GC),
- Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D (3DS),
- Donkey Kong Country Returns (WII),
- Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem (DS)
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
8 Players Online