The list so far: The Definitive 50 N64 Games
In the same way that Rare built on Nintendo’s Mario 64 success with a number of 3D platformers of their own, they also followed Mario Kart 64 with Mickey’s Speedway USA and Diddy Kong Racing.
Believe it or not, Diddy Kong Racing actually has a story… In short, a spacefaring pig wizard named Wizpig has invaded Timber’s Island, and it’s up to Diddy and friends to defeat this alien menace in a series of races and drive him back to his home planet of Future Fun Land.
The game’s Adventure mode is actually quite elaborate, and resembles Rare’s N64 platformer games in its construction. You roam around Timber’s Island, finding entrances to races and earning golden balloons, which in turn open up more races.
These contests aren’t as simple as driving a kart around a track, either. For starters, DKR actually features three vehicles: in addition to cars, there are hovercraft and airplanes, with different levels requiring different vehicles. Airplanes are slower, but easier to maneuver, and, of course, they travel through the air. Hovercraft are best on water, but they can be tricky to turn with.
There are also bosses to defeat, bonus games, and Silver Coin collection challenges.
Despite Diddy’s starring role, Diddy Kong Racing doesn’t actually do much with the DK license. Aside from Krunch the Kremling, the game’s other racers are pretty generic: there’s Tiptup the turtle, Pipsy the mouse, Bumper the badger, Timber the tiger… oh, and also Banjo the bear and Conker the squirrel. Apparently, the intention was to use DKR as a jumping off point for these characters into other games. Banjo and Conker went on to have very different careers after appearing together here.
DKR effectively consists of five worlds: there’s Dino Domain, Snowflake Mountain, Sherbet Island, Dragon Forest, and Future Fun Land, and each world contains four normal tracks.
Of course, all of these tracks are most certainly not reserved for the game’s single player mode either. Up to four can race on these tracks, as well as battle on the bonus courses.
In both Adventure and multiplayer, items are found in balloons scattered throughout tracks – supplying you with boosts, missiles, shields, road hazards, and even magnets to power your way to victory. Bananas can also be found throughout races, slightly improving your speed the more you collect. Very familiar stuff for Mario Kart players.
Rare had begun developing a Diddy Kong Racing sequel for the GameCube, to be titled Donkey Kong Racing, before being acquired by Microsoft.
But believe it or not, that’s not where the franchise ended. An enhanced remake of Diddy Kong Racing came to the DS in 2007, as Microsoft permitted Rare to continue making games for Nintendo handhelds, if not consoles.
Let me know what you think of Diddy Kong Racing in the comments section below. Don’t forget to rate and subscribe. Check back next week for entry #18 on the Definitive 50 N64 Games.