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Diddy Kong Racing

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Released: 1997

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: Nintendo 64

Publisher: Rare

Developer: Rare

Submitted by: Mark Kendrick

Diddy Kong Racing to me is the perfect racing game. Now, before getting shot down by fans of ‘new’ racers such as Project Gotham Racing 4, I’m talking about a game that’s utterly addictive to play, with super-responsive handling without the hassle of ‘real world’ controls and physics getting in the way. Plus it’s cute enough that I can even happily play with my wife and it even keeps her attention!

Diddy Kong Racing’s responsiveness just blows away Mario Kart 64 in my opinion. Firstly, its controls are perfectly mapped to the beautifully ergonomic N64 pad. It has just the right amount of button options, saving it from the overwhelming amount of ‘clever’ combos needed to get the most from games that only someone with 32 fingers can handle these days. It’s dead easy to get into, a snap to play and a feast on the eyes too.

Although you could argue that Mario Kart 64 has the better two-player modes, the actual tracks themselves are far, far more rewarding, and as the game options stack up this is a much more satisfying racer. Ranging from simplistic Mario-esque tracks, the game then goes way off into themed realms, such as the utter genius of ‘Frosty Village’ and ‘Cresent Bay’. Add to this the fact that each level can be played as a either a kart, plane or hovercraft and you start to appreciate the genius of Rare’s level design. Plus, throw in the music ‘inspired’ from classic musical themes such as ‘Winter Wonderland’ and you can begin to see how this all stacks up as being a classic of epic proportions.

With a wealth of character racers, an adventure aspect to the game (complete with end of trophy baddy races), Time Trials, unlockable characters, secret areas and more, this racers reads like another Banjo Kazooie than a straight racing game. This is a classic, and no mistake.

Even today, the game holds more fun and adventure than any current console game. OK, part of any nostalgia is that you were there at the time, which could have something to do with it, but I would still urge anyone who gets the chance to give this racer a go. Believe me, once played Diddy Kong Racing is never forgotten. Thank you Rare for a true gem.