Review by FFandMMfan

"A remake of one of the greatest racing games ever, though not without flaws, is NOT a bad game."

Way back in 1997, during Rare's glory days, they provided us with many spectacular games including Banjo Kazooie and Diddy Kong Racing, for the Nintendo 64. Both games were considered to be pioneers in their genres - Banjo Kazooie for it's improvement on the 3D-platformer-collect-a-thon genre that Super Mario 64 set into motion, and DKR for it's addition of an Adventure mode, something not seen in any Racing game before.

Since then, Rare has been in a slow decline, and most fans of their SNES and N64 work fear for the future of the company.

So recently, Nintendo and Rare struck up a deal to remake Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo DS, and it's finally here... but how does the game stack up to the original? Is Rare's loss of creativity visible in this new remake? Yes, and no. Perhaps this time, Rare was being a little TOO creative...

DKRDS has it's flaws, quite a lot of them, actually. But at it's core, it is STILL Diddy Kong Racing, the racer we all knew and loved. So read on, to find out what has changed, for better, and for worse.

Story - 2/10
============
Yeah, it's the same story as before. Wizpig, an evil pig from space... or something... has decended upon Timber's Island and caused havoc and it's up to the Racers to gather the various collectables to progress closer to the piggy. It's a bad story, but I mean, if you didn't mind the original's story, it's the same thing.

Gameplay
Racing - 9/10
Touch Features - 4/10
======================
When you begin the game, you'll enter your name and draw an icon used for Wi-Fi play. Then, you'll play a short tutorial race around the center of the island. For that, you'll get your first Gold Balloon (the objects which unlock more tracks) to progress into Dino Domain, where the first set of tracks reside. It's all very similar to the N64 version, and at first, aside from the map on the other screen, you'll barely be able to tell you're playing a different game.

Once you get into your first real race though, the differences will be clear. In the N64 version, to get a boost-start at the beginning of the race, you needed to hold Gas at just the right time, much like most racing games. However, in DKRDS, you'll have to use the DS' unique features to gain your boost.

Cars require you to swipe the stylus downwards across a wheel on the touch screen, in order to fill a meter for their boost. Planes require you to rotate a propeller in a circular motion. Hovercraft require you to blow into the DS' mic. As bad as this sounds at first, it's really not, and you WILL get used to it. Sure it's unconventional, but it's not that hard once you get the hang of it.

There's a few new types of collectables around the tracks as well. Rare Coins populate the tracks, which can be spent on various unlockables and vehicle upgrades, and there are Special Tokens, which can turn your current weapon into a more advanced one. Weapons still upgrade as they did in the N64 version (picking up a Green balloon gives an Oil Slick, picking up two gives you a Mine, and three nets you a trap Bubble), but these new Tokens will transform it into an even greater form, though they are often in hard-to-reach places.

For those unfamiliar with the weapon system, there are 5 types of Weapon Balloons. Red (missles), Blue (turbo boosts), Green (obsticles that are dropped behind you), Yellow (creates a shield) and Rainbow (uses Magnets to pull you towards an opponent). The only Weapon difference between the N64 and DS version, is that 2 Red Balloons make 5 semi-homing missles, and 3 Reds make a Homing Missle that seeks the 1st place racer.

As good as all of this sounds so far, its time to cover the bad side of DKRDS, the touch challenges and "features".

First thing to note, is that the touch recognition of DKRDS is TERRRIBLE. Half of the time you can be touching something dead on, and it not register the touch, which is especially frustrating for the Boss Touch Challenges.

After you clear the tracks in a world, you get to face a Boss, and it's pretty much the same - if not a little easier, than the N64 version. Then, instead of playing through the tracks in Silver Coin Challenges, you run through the tracks on Taj's Magic Carpet and pop balloons in an on-rails system. This is actually pretty fun, if a little different than what you'd expect in this sort of game.

But after the second boss round, and the Trophy Race, you get the optional choice of racing against the bosses again, but this time, they throw ridiculous touch gimmicks into the mix.

In these challenges, you must draw a line along the touch screen to direct your driver, and spin a wheel that appears in the corner every so often to maintain your speed. Weapons can be aquired via running over them, or by tapping them. Double tapping either you or the boss will fire them... but the controls are so unresponsive, and you slide around so much, that it completely ruins the experience and makes it nothing but aggriviating. Two of the bosses have different touch challenges, but the unresponsiveness and aggrivation remain the same.

Speaking of aggrivation, the Hovercraft controls like crap. You slide as if your Hover was caked in a thick layer of Butter, nearly pulling a 180 at the slightest turn of the craft. Vehicle upgrades can somewhat remedy this, but it's still very slippery, even moreso than in the N64 version. Luckily, the Car and Plane control fine, though R-turns are a bit tighter than before.

So with all of these flaws in gameplay, why should you get the game? The game features a good amount of new features that DON'T suck. First off is Wi-Fi multiplayer, with up to 6 players, on any track, set of tracks, battle tracks, and pretty much any type of game style you could ask for. Every track is available online, and you can customize the matches to fit your needs. If you only want to have a 2 player race, then you can. Allow as many players as you want, no surprise intruders.

There are also 4 brand new tracks (which are pretty good, in my opinion) and the ability to unlock 4 new racers, the Silver Coin Challenge, custom billboards, custom character voices, custom vehicles, and a Track Creator mode. The Track Creator is pretty bare-bones, and honestly, pretty bad. Though, it's there, so I can't really complain.

Last, but not least, Conker and Banjo are out. Due to licensing issues between Rare, Nintendo and Microsoft (who now owns Rare) they've been taken out in favor of Tiny Kong and Dixie Kong. Sorry guys :(

All in all, the core racing system remains mostly the same, and aside from some new touch "features" and physics changes, the game is as solid as it ever was.

Sound/Music - 7/10
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Everyone loved DKR's music selection. Almost every track theme was pure gold. DKRDS remixes them, and outright changes a few of them, but for the most part, they're still good.

The voices are another story. The voices sound TERRIBLE. Everyone has been changed, and none of them for the better. Taj is probably the worst of the bunch, though. T.T., for the most part, sounds the same, but the way he spoke in the track names just ISN'T there in this game. He sounds... off...

The sound effects themselves are standard fare, nothing good, nothing bad.

Graphics - 6/10
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The graphics have been dumbed down, simple as that. Because the DS doesn't use the same graphics technology that the N64 did, things look noticably different. The ground and water looks A LOT more plain, and things like the choppy lava in Hot Top Volcano and the blizzards in some of the Snowflake Mountain tracks have been removed, for unknown reasons, but possibly because the DS simply cannot handle it. That, or the developers were lazy.

Certain tracks have had actual changes, but most of them are purely cosmetic. Most of the SM tracks lack the darkness and heavy snow, and Haunted Woods looks a lot less creepy, with many less Ghosts near the end of the track. While these things don't actually detract from the gameplay, they do make the game lose a bit of the style it once had.

Things like the Boost flames and rockets have been dumbed down in terms of graphics. But as I said, it may look worse, but it doesn't really make a difference.

Final Thoughts
===============
All in all, the game is good, but has many glaring flaws at the same time. When you're actually racing, and not in a Hovercraft, the game is gold. But the touch features bog down what could have been a 9/10, or even 10/10 game.

Pros:
- Still the same game we knew and loved, at it's core.
- Wi-Fi play is spectacular.
- Plenty of new things to do, even if some of them aren't so great.
- 4 New tracks, Strangled Shrine being one of the best in the game, IMO.
- Single Card Multiplayer allows all tracks to be raced on with just one game card.
- The standard boss races are easier, though this could be considered a con.
- Lots of ways to customize the game.
- Rumble Pack support.

Cons:
- Most of the touch features add nothing to the game, only subtract from it.
- Diddy, Tiny and Dixie are useless because they have 3/5 on every stat except one, which is 2/5, whereas Timber has 3/5 on everything.
- The track maker is very lacking.
- The secret characters are MUCH better than every other character, somewhat breaking Wi-Fi.
- The Hovercraft controls like garbage.
- The trench shots from Spaceport Alpha were removed.
- Graphics and voices have been severely dumbed down.
- Touch features are usually very unresponsive.
- It's very hard to get the color you want for your vehicle's paint job.
- Boost-starts are somewhat annoying.
- All of Taj's challenges are annoying.
- No more Magic Codes.

So, should you get it? I'd say, rent it first, or borrow from a friend. It has it's good points, but it has plenty of bad points too...


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/09/07


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