Several months after the somewhat disappointing Mario Kart 64 was released, Rareware learns from Miyamoto’s mistakes and comes out with a Mario-esque racer that goes above and beyond any racer released on the Nintendo 64.
Diddy Kong Racing, to the casual gamer, might look identical to Mario Kart 64, but in essence, it’s a whole new game. Sure, there is your typical racing, but it doesn’t end there. The game is one all-out adventure.
The basic setting for the course is reminiscent of Mario 64, as vehicles travel over one main island which connects to several different sections, or "lobbies." Each lobby has four standard race courses, one boss race course, and a special multiplayer course. Racers search each lobby, as well as the main island, for gold balloons required to reach the higher level courses (not unlike Mario 64’s stars).
In each lobby, once each course is completed with a 1st place victory, the door to the Boss Race opens up. The Boss Race is a one-on-one race against the guardian of the lobby. Once beaten, he offers the Silver Coin Challenge; a sub-quest to find all 8 silver coins in each course and still come out first. Once these Challenge courses are beat, there is one final race against the lobby boss. After he is beat a second time, stay with me now, the boss awards a piece of a magical amulet required to enter the final lobby: the home of the evil Wizpig.
But that is not all. There are many other options that can be found in Diddy Kong Racing, such as a Trophy Race (sort of a mini Grand Prix of the entire lobby), multiplayer Capture-the-Flag-style games, a choice of three vehicles (go-kart, hovercraft, and airplane), and much more.
Considering that this is a race game featuring Diddy Kong, you can be assured that the characters will be cute, and they definitely are. Characters such as Timber the Tiger and Pipsy the Mouse definitely come to mind in terms of cuteness. Heck, their voices sound like they were performed by 8-year-olds. Also, there are characters in DKR that are making their first apprearance before their own games come out. Banjo (of Banjo-Kazooie) and Conker (of Conker’s Quest) prove that they can race with the best of them.
But don’t let the cuteness fool you. Diddy Kong Racing is one deep and challenging racing game. Those who felt somewhat cheated with Mario Kart can now breathe a sigh of relief at the superior gameplay that is Diddy Kong Racing. Start your engines!