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Review: Diddy Kong Racing DS (DS/3DS)

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  • Review: Diddy Kong Racing DS (DS/3DS)

    The much-maligned Nintendo DS port of Diddy Kong Racing isn't anywhere near as bad as some might have you believe.

    The changes made over the original Nintendo 64 game are actually minimal, and several are an improvement. The inclusion of a proper difficulty curve (at least at first - unfortunately, it vanishes before the game's halfway point), and the removal of some of the original game's extreme repetitiveness (accomplished by removing various "challenges"), help it a great deal.

    The problem is that, in spite of the changes that Diddy Kong Racing DS features, too many of the N64 version's problems have been retained - most notably the unbelievably frustrating and cheaty opponent AI (particularly on the boss-races), where even the slightest wrong move is brutally punished by races becoming impossible to win and needing to be started over. It's frequently unfair and unfun as a result, but is identical to the original version in this respect.

    Additionally, some of the DS port's touch-screen (and microphone) additions don't work very well, or require inhuman precision. The only one that works nicely and consistently is the propellor-spinning, which is used to give aeroplanes a speed-boost from the starting line, in races where aeroplanes feature.

    Unfortunately, some of the N64 original's polish has been lost: The character voices have all been changed (not a big deal, but some of them are very unfitting and spoil the presentation a bit), texture-glitching is apparent in places, and numerous completely pointless cutscenes (some of them only a few seconds long and played frequently) have been added all over the place. The latter detracts from the experience the most, as these additions only serve to waste your time - and possibly also make you cringe at how bad they are.

    It's worth noting that the game's multi-player component is extremely good, and it far outdoes the one present in the much later 3DS racer, Mario Kart 7. Up to eight players are supported with only one copy of Diddy Kong Racing DS required, and you can use all tracks and characters that you have unlocked so far. Unlocking them is the problem, though - to pick tracks in the multi-player mode, you must have won on them in the single-player game. Four brand new tracks exclusive to this port can also be "bought" using in-game currency found when racing. These requirements aside, the multi-player mode is arguably Diddy Kong Racing DS' biggest draw, offering many hours of genuine fun.

    In summary, Diddy Kong Racing DS is ultimately the same flawed game that graced the N64 in 1997, and this port lets itself down by forcing you to slog through it in order to open up its best feature. If you can find a used copy with a 100% complete save-file, have a cheat device that can unlock everything for you, or simply have the stomach to deal with the game's unfairness and repetition, Diddy Kong Racing DS becomes an essential purchase for any DS or 3DS owner who regularly plays multi-player titles with friends and family.

    Image from MobyGames

    In conclusion: Diddy Kong Racing DS is the same as the original Diddy Kong Racing at its core, including its problems, but the generous multi-player mode manages to make it a must-have.
    "No need to design a new game - just change the graphics in these few basic designs and put a picture of Indiana Jones on the box! You'll never have to think again!"
    --Jeff Minter, Llamatron Readme

  • #2
    Thanks for the review! I never played the original, but I might have to give this a try. Unfortunately, most of my friends aren't gamers so I don't have anyone to try out the multi-player.

    Promoted to Level II Solder Tech and Hackery Padawan


    • #3
      There is an online multi-player mode with the same features as the local one, too, if that's of any help. I haven't actually tried it, though, as I wasn't entirely sure how many people would still be playing the online mode of a game released in 2007...

      I could have a look, if you like!
      "No need to design a new game - just change the graphics in these few basic designs and put a picture of Indiana Jones on the box! You'll never have to think again!"
      --Jeff Minter, Llamatron Readme


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