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Platform

Nintendo DS

 

Genre

Kart Racing

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Rare

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

February 7, 2007

 

 

- Great online multiplayer
- Gameplay is varied with three different types of vehicles
- The adventure mode is a nice addition in this genre

 

 

- Little more than an Nintendo 64 port
- Graphics are ok but some textures are very disappointing despite being redone
- DS enhancements are “first generation”

 

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Diddy Kong Racing DS

Score: 6.5 out of 10

 

Diddy Kong Racing for the DS is Rare’s first entry onto the DS scene. It might seem a little strange to have a Microsoft owned company producing titles for the competition, but since Microsoft has no real presence in the handheld space it just makes sense.

 

diddy-kong-racing-1.jpg (65211 bytes)        diddy-kong-racing-2.jpg (68961 bytes)

 

If you’ve played the Nintendo 64 version of Diddy Kong (about a decade ago) then you pretty much know what to expect. Although this isn’t a straight port (the graphics engine has been redone and there are some other minor differences) for the most part the characters and tracks are all the same.

 

Although at first this game seems just like a standard kart racer, there are some elements that set it apart. You not only control a regular vehicle, but also a hovercraft (for which there is little friction) and even an airplane. Moving the game from having just left and right controls to adding the extra dimension of moving up and down as well really adds to the complexity.

 

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Diddy Kong features 12 playable characters and 24 unique tracks. The bottom screen of your DS will give you an overhead view of the action while the top screen gives you the full 3-D experience you came to love and enjoy on the N64.

 

The game does have a nice adventure mode that allows you to explore certain tracks at your leisure, although 

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you will have to obtain wins in a certain number of races before you can open certain doors. A new mode that has been added into the DS version is a “pop the balloons” level that requires you to use the stylus. Unfortunately, it gets frustrating as you try to control both the camera view and pop the balloons with the same stylus.

 

The other racers that you will face vary from extremely weak to extremely strong – and of course some in between. You can use missiles and other items you pick up along the way to help you out. The magnet attack is particularly appealing.

 

This game does feature the ability to customize the look of your vehicle and there are tons of things to unlock. Some items are better than others obviously, but you will definitely feel compelled to move forward to get that next item.

 

diddy-kong-racing-3.jpg (153441 bytes)       diddy-kong-racing-4.jpg (125800 bytes)

 

As a remake, you’d think that it has the right formula. There are four new playable characters (although two have been removed), four more tracks and the graphics have been redone to a degree and the game does employ some DS functionality (like getting a boost at the beginning by rubbing your wheels with the stylus or blowing into the microphone). So why did I end up feeling disappointed?

 

The online mode does make up for some of the other shortcomings. They have managed to squeeze six player WiFi into this game (as opposed to the four in Mario Kart) so if you are looking at multi-player, this may be worth the price of admission alone.

 

Diddy Kong Racing DS ends up being a slightly above average racing game. If you are expecting to find a better time than Mario Kart here, keep looking. The game is decent enough, but you might want to try a rental first just to make sure it lives up to your expectations. Personally, I’m hoping that Rare’s next DS attempt will just be a bit better experience.

 

Syd Bolton

March 31, 2007

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