REVIEW: Diddy Kong Racing (1997, N64)

Okay, I know that I was supposed to post a review of Plok today, but I really wasn’t satisfied with the way it was written. Because of that, I’ve unfortunately decided to put it on the back burner for the time being. But trust me when I say that I WILL get around to reviewing it…eventually.

But with that out of the way, it’s time we’ve gone onto the topic of today’s review: the Nintendo 64 racing title, Diddy Kong Racing!

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Released in 1997 and developed by the legendary RareWare, who are most known for Donkey Kong Country, Perfect Dark, and Banjo-Kazooie, the game’s story revolves around the titular simian and his group of furry friends as they challenge the evil Wizpig to a racing tournament throughout an island in exchange for its freedom. Will this game have me going ape over it? Let’s find out, shall we?

THE LOOKS – If there’s something that I can always applaud Rare on, it’s that their games can always be expected to look fantastic. In this game, this is certainly still the case. The graphics are very nicely done, with all of the tracks having very colorful appearances and striking but appealing visuals. But if there is one thing that I dislike about the graphics, it’s the fact that they can be a bit too cutesy at times. I know, I can’t believe that I’m calling a Nintendo game “too cutesy”, but that’s not to say it hinders the game’s visuals completely. For what they are, they’re good enough.

THE SOUND – Another well-known trait of Rare shines through here: their signature catchy as all heck music. The music is just FANTASTIC, all each theme fitting each location perfectly, as well as being very nice to listen to as well. It also helps that the composer, David Wise, has a long history of excellent music. The sound effects on the other hand… eh, they’re okay. Each one fits the characters’ respective actions well, but most of them are just stock Hanna-Barbera sound effects. That, and the character’s voices can get pretty irritating at times, ESPECIALLY Conker, Pipsy, and Drumstick. But with all things considered, the sound is still good.

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I’m a monkey driving up to an elephant version of the Genie from Aladdin in a hovercraft…alrighty then!

THE GAMEPLAY – Now this is where things get interesting…on paper, Diddy Kong Racing aims to be your typical, everyday kart racing game…but with a twist. You see, in this game you aren’t racing in JUST karts, you’ll also be racing in planes and boats as well! Because of this, some tracks are designed specifically for some of these vehicles, which is a major pro on the game’s part, because it can spice up the gameplay quite a bit. The racetracks are also very well-designed, with alternate paths and secrets to be found galore. However, there’s one itty bitty problem that prevents the gameplay from being great: overcomplexity. Now before you get into the comment section and chew me out, just listen. In the game’s main mode, Adventure Mode, you have to collect a certain number of balloons in order to get to the all of the racetracks in each area. Once you’ve gotten through said area, you can go to the other area, BUT you also have to beat the area you just went through AGAIN by collecting all of the coins in each racetrack of said area, and once you’re done with THAT, you get a piece of an amulet that you need in order to face Wizpig. The problem with collecting the coins is that some of them can be very difficult to get, and with some racetracks being rather hard at times, it just makes it very frustrating. The gameplay itself has a lot of positives to it, but that one fatal flaw that I just went over kind of just spoils it.

THE BOTTOM LINE – Although it suffers from overcomplexity and a childish tone, Diddy Kong Racing is still a fun time nonetheless. If you’re a big Rare or Nintendo fan, than you’ll most likely enjoy it. As for everyone else…eh, I guess it’s a matter of taste.

7/10

Also, be sure to post comments and leave feedback!

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