As so many did, my friends and I bought into the original Diddy Kong Racing, which had been hyped as a superior blend of Super Mario 64 meets Mario Kart 64, from the same developer that had won our allegiance with GoldenEye 007 just months before. Diddy Kong Racing wasn't fun (despite mostly bloated reviews). Still, we fell into a self-perpetuating trap of lying to ourselves; reassuring each other of the game's promised greatness. Weeks passed, and Diddy Kong Racing eventually faded away -- but not for good.
Rare has remade its N64 "classic" for DS. Despite Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection support, Diddy Kong Racing is still lame, further marred by poor DS-specific design choices. Thankfully, critical reception seems to be more on point this time around:
- IGN (71/100) - "[Any] time you're encouraged to touch the lower screen, you can pretty much assume that it wasn't in the original game and created specifically for the Nintendo DS "remake". It's these new DS-centric elements that point to the fact that this is a first-generation DS game handled by a team that's not quite familiar with the platform ... someone really needs to tell Rare that microphone blowing is so 2005. It wasn't a whole lot of fun when developers did it in the Nintendo DS' early years, and it's still not fun now ... unfortunately the development team focused a bit too much on "DS-izing" the product with completely unnecessary and frustrating touch-screen and microphone challenges that disrupt the racing design."
- GameSpot (67/100) - "Diddy Kong Racing DS isn't a bad kart-racing game, but its best feature, the racing, is buried underneath so much unnecessary garbage that some people will find it nearly impossible to enjoy. Had Rare stripped the island setting, toned down the tedious collecting, and tweaked some other minor issues, the game would have been better with less. Instead, it chose to add more and more content, and the game suffers for it. Some of the new additions, such as online multiplayer and the various customization features, make the game more enjoyable, but many of them, particularly the touch-screen controls, make it worse."
- Games Radar (60/100) - "Diddy Kong Racing wants so damn hard to be the next Mario Kart that it hurts our eyes to play it for long periods of time. The racing itself is totally fine (if a little slow), but this simple pleasure is smothered in monotonous collecting and mindless wandering ... For those who remember the Nintendo 64 version from 1997, this is mostly the same game. Back then it wanted to be the next Mario Kart 64, but obviously wasn't. Now, the only thing that's been done to bump its stature is moderate touch screen silliness."