Review by Banjo_2553

"A good game almost ruined by the touch screen controls."

The original N64 version of Diddy Kong Racing was a hit, combining racing with adventure, an unusual combination. Nevertheless, it was surprisingly good and boasted excellent multiplayer, even rivaling the goodness of the Mario Kart series.

Many years later, Diddy Kong Racing for the DS has been announced. Now that it is released, featuring many additions, will it deliver? This review will answer that question.

The Good:

The environment and races have basically remained the same, although some of the Golden Balloons scattered around the overworld have been turned into Touch Screen minigames to earn those Balloons. This is actually a welcome addition. Simply touch the screen when you see a hand on the screen and you'll start the minigame. Things like drawing a circle in the sand or tracing the face of Wizpig is fun.

New balloon popping games for each track is really fun and frantic. You may spend many hours trying to get the gold rank in these games, popping balloons by tapping on them, dragging coins to your money bag, and dragging the stylus to look around while riding on a magic carpet on a set path. I'm sure you'll love this addition, as do I.

The custom track editor is a good addition. You make a track by drawing a line on the touch screen, and for the most part, you can configure if the track will take ups or downs, or if the track is crooked and twisted. The best part is that you can send your custom tracks to your friends and have multiplayer races.

Online play is again a welcome addition. If you're tired of the online play in Mario Kart DS because of snakers running rampant, then this game is a nice relief, as snaking, let alone mini turbos, are nonexistant. Also, the items are not random, which means that it's easier to catch up to someone whenever you like. Also, unlike Mario Kart DS, you can also do battle matches online. By far, this game's online play blows away Mario Kart DS's online any day.

Unlockables and extras are in abundance here, such as extra tracks for single race mode, many single player and multiplayer modes, and even vehicle upgrades to improve performance. However, most unlockables have to be bought at Taj's Wish List. How to get the money, you ask? Simple. The bananas in each track are all replaced by coins. That's how you get the money to buy things. There's a quicker way of getting money, but that's discussed later.

The Bad:

The Boss Touch Challenges feel as if they've been tacked on and haven't even bothered to fix it. The challenges are basically trying to beat the world boss solely using the Touch Screen. Hard, you may wonder? Definitely. Two of the challenges require that you spin the wheels, while driving your vehicle by drawing a path on the touch screen. The problem is that your character has to drive over the path drawn in order to follow it, making it unpractical. Combine this with trying to get weapons and other items while keeping your vehicle fast by constantly spinning the tires with the stylus, makes it very frustrating. The other two aren't as bad though, one which allows you to control your vehicle with the control pad and getting rid of obstructions using the touch screen, and another in which you completely control a plane by moving the stylus as you would move a yoke while adjusting your speed with the control pad. Thankfully, these aren't necessary to beat the whole game, but you do get 100 Coins for beating each challenge.

Forget about normal speed boosts at the start, boosts at the start now have to be done with the touch screen. This is not very intuitive at all, because after doing this, it leaves you not very much time to put the stylus away and start controlling your vehicle normally. Even then, things such as spinning your wheels by dragging the stylus downward and spinning around the stylus to spin an airplane's rotor is fun, but when it's right in the race, it's not intuitive at all. This goes with the added weapons that require the touch screen as well. Also, to speed boost at the start with the Hovercraft, you have to blow at the DS. At first, I thought you had to blow right into the hole near the headphone plug, but you just have to blow at the DS and it works well. Thus, the hovercraft seems to have the least annoying speed boost practice in the game. Which is sad, considering that hovercrafts don't control very well except on water.

The Ugly:

Banjo and Conker being replaced with Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong just has us remind of the ugly fact that Rareware is no longer with Nintendo as a second-party company.

The Verdict

A good game with many things added makes for a great port, but some of the touch screen controls feel as if they have been tacked on for the sole purpose of using the touch screen, severely dropping the original score from a 9 to a 7.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/20/07, Updated 05/19/08

Game Release: Diddy Kong Racing DS (US, 02/05/07)

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