Diddy Kong Racing DS Review

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Good for multiplayer mash-ups that are more about your skill on the pad than your ability to use weapons.


While Diddy Kong Racing never managed to steal Mario Kart’s thunder, the kitschy racer was still one of the strongest titles on the N64, and showed that blending adventure and driving elements was a slick way to add depth to an otherwise traditional speedster. But while the new DS edition follows the same template as its hallowed predecessor, it’s beset by niggling problems that too often bring the action grinding to a halt.

To progress through the game players are forced to replay certain races over and over again, taking on new challenges each time such as popping balloons using the touch screen or using the DS’ stylus to spin the wheels of your car while plotting a trajectory for your racer. But while these tactile challenges sound like fun, they’re nowhere near as satisfying or exciting as the normal races, and it won’t be long before you’re yearning for the simplicity of Mario Kart DS and it's deliriously brisk, no frills action.

DKR also uses the DS’ microphone in various single-player missions, with players blowing on the mic to extinguish burning torches or spark a hovercraft’s speed boost. But while it’s always encouraging to see developers making the most of the DS hardware, these moments of strategic puffing effectively stop you tackling the game in public, unless you’re happy to look like a breathless fool at the back of the bus.

But despite its flaws, DKR does have one saving grace: its multiplayer modes. As well as allowing eight people to play a single race or tournament using one cartridge, there’s also an online multiplayer mode where you can trounce other players via the console’s Wi-Fi connection, extending the game’s lifespan and allowing you to show off your racing skills to the world.

As a rival to Mario Kart, DKR can’t touch Nintendo’s evergreen franchise.
But for multiplayer mash-ups that are more about your skill on the pad than your ability to use weapons, Rare’s inaugural DS release is still worth a punt.