Diddy Kong Racing DS (Nintendo DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 19.04.2007 8

Review for Diddy Kong Racing DS on Nintendo DS

During the heyday of cartridge-based gaming there were two grey plastic shells that desperately sought devotion from racing fans: Nintendo's mascot driven, update-to-a-classic, Mario Kart 64 competing alongside the less accepted Rare effort, Diddy Kong Racing. Even today there are two distinct camps on what was the game to own, and the battle reignites as the British developer brings Nintendo's simian friends to the DS in a remake. Do Diddy and friends stand the test of time?

It's been several years since then and things have certainly changed. Creator Rare now dabbles in projects with Microsoft but is still going strong on the portable front with Nintendo. After a successful string of GBA hits, the team have ventured into DS waters with a very ambitious remake of the 1997 racer. A quick port and tacked on touch controls could have made a buck or two, but unlike many developers past and present, Rare have gone beyond the call of duty to bring some great extras to the table.

A handful of titles have snuck into the genre over the years, from Crash Bandicoot to Mickey Mouse but Mario and friends breeze on by with a solid concept that has yet to have been dethroned. Rare took a different approach: varied vehicles and a fairly expansive adventure mode. Instead of just chugging away on land in a kart, players can take to the skies in a plane or navigate the seas in a bouncy hovercraft – many of the levels having alternative routes that can advantageous when using alternate vehicles. The three mediums offer a lot of variety between one another, with each handling significantly differently – through the turns, speeds and levels of friction, and fortunately there aren’t major problems with any. Using the D-pad as opposed to a more natural joystick may feel awkward initially for both experienced and new players, like manoeuvring through a narrow winding tunnel, or dodging bombs excreted by an enormous squid can be a daunting task for weak thumbs. A bizarre but interesting twist forces players into using touch or blowing skill to boost at the start, by either rotating a plane’s propeller, revving up a car’s tyres or blowing wildly to get your hovercraft to start. Initially the idea seems daunting, and after a long haul repeating a challenge or two can become very tedious but can eventually grow on you.

Screenshot for Diddy Kong Racing DS on Nintendo DS

With a game like Mario Kart, a combination of luck and skill comes into play – a player in last position can fairly easily pick up the ranks. With Diddy Kong, it’s a completely different game. The original had even the most dedicated fan seething at the computer player’s inability to be stopped in their tracks to easily. Even by pelting a cocky badger with missile after missile, the bastard still seems to have the upper hand. In the remake, things have picked up slightly; the difficulty level is far more balanced, and weaponry tends to be a lot fairer. Weaponry, held in cute starry balloons, work on a build-up system where players can decide to hold off their attack to up their level. A slight shuffle has occurred, for example grabbing a single red balloon snags a missile, another adding four more and the final giving you homing ability. There’s no major weapon that can bring a player back from the back of the pack, so races can feel very drawn out at times and so realise heavily on a combination of shortcuts, driving skill and a bit of luck to go your way.

Graphically and presentation wise, Rare haven’t gone all the way in comparison to other studios who have had more experience with the platform, but still provides a vast set of colours and visuals that are unique and distinctive to the studio’s art style: from the character designs and modeling to the choice of fonts and menu items. The DS version has had a boost in performance however, with the world looking far more vibrant with an extra dash of colour and some effects that hadn’t been seen previously, from added lighting and shadows to some smoke and water particles. Sound plays a healthy role, adding some catchy jingles to strengthen the mood – from the marching bongo beats of a heated volcano to the Christmas jingle of a town covered in snow, the game’s music selection compliments the action nicely.

For those that blaze through the single player effort and suffer from billy-no-mates syndrome, whole wealth of tasty extras is available and specific for the DS version. Taj's magical hut houses brand new tracks, custom decals for your vehicle, a fancy track editor and even the ability to record your own voice taunts. Profanities from an adorable yellow mouse have never been so fun! Editing one's tracks is fairly limited, but allows players to draw simple configurations on the touch screen and creates world specific courses to race around. Instead of bananas, levels are now scattered with coins to collect for these delectable treats.

Screenshot for Diddy Kong Racing DS on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Essentially the move to the portable world has done a whole lot of good for the game, and is a good starting point for Rare on the platform. The game has been recorded, levels and difficulty altered and even plays host to a wealth of extras and additions. Whilst the game still has a way to go to catch up to Mario Kart, in which, after a year on the market still excels in many ways, Rare's first effort on the DS is a smooth one. It doesn't come without its fair share of niggles and drawbacks, but is definitely one to consider if you are fans of cutesy critters and racing.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (9 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


great review, i've seen a couple of bad reviews on this but this one sure gets rid of my dounbts, excellent, i loved the N64 version (it was the first i played on N64) and this certainly looks awesome. however, i'm going through MP:H so it'll keep me busy for a while...

Awesome review, I'll definitely consider buying this once the money man starts putting some money into my bank account. I'm a bit wary of the easiness, though.

It's good, but the quality and overall feel of the game doesn't live up to Mario Kart DS.

Still, I would recommend anyone to buy it, as it's still a great game.

My nephew will probably get it, so basically a free game for me.

Nice review JB.

Mike Gee of iZINE said, "...The Verve, as he [Richard Ashcroft] promised, had become the greatest band in the world. Most of the critics agreed with him. Most paid due homage. The Verve were no longer the question mark or the clich. They were the statement and the definition."

Good, was worried it was getting some negative reviews, but I definitely want this...

So, eventually I should have the money for it. :Smilie

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

I didn't own it on the N64 but it really doesn't appeal to me.

Enoch Powell was right, and you know it.

Andrezao said:
great review, i've seen a couple of bad reviews on this but this one sure gets rid of my dounbts, excellent, i loved the N64 version (it was the first i played on N64) and this certainly looks awesome. however, i'm going through MP:H so it'll keep me busy for a while...

Reminds me of gamer.tv on tensports they hated this game
This review is coming soon on Nu reviews
Permisson by:jesusraz
Thanks dude!

My Life & blog: Random Thoughts, Photos, stuff, videos and links

Here's a little video I made on the game. It's just some fottage from the game, but nothing else.

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
Steven M

There are 1 members online at the moment.