Diddy Kong and his friends are planning to hold a racing tournament around the island owned by Timber the Tiger’s parents. Or at least they were until an evil intergalactic pig-wizard turned up to spoil it all.

Released just in time for Christmas in 1997, Diddy Kong Racing was a massive success for then Nintendo second-party, Rare.

In true Rare style, Diddy Kong Racing took the kart-racing concept first introduced by Nintendo’s Mario Kart series (although it supposedly wasn’t influenced by it) and did it bigger and better. Mario Kart 64 uses sprites for its characters; Diddy Kong Racing uses full 3D models (well, except for the wheels). Mario Kart 64 lets you drive go-karts; Diddy Kong Racing lets you drive karts, hovercrafts and planes. Mario Kart 64 gives you a Grand Prix mode with four cups; Diddy Kong Racing gives you a full adventure mode with boss battles, collectables and an interconnected hub world with its own secrets and rewards. It also features a number of multiplayer modes for up to four people.

Diddy Kong Racing was originally conceived as Pro-Am 64, a spiritual successor of sorts to Rare’s earlier R.C. Pro-Am games. As the game’s development got closer to its eventual release, Rare took the decision to rebrand the game to star Diddy Kong from the Donkey Kong Country series (a character which Rare had originally created) to increase its sales potential during the Christmas period.

This game marks the first appearance of Banjo (from Banjo-Kazooie, which released the following year) and Conker, who later appeared in Conker’s Bad Fur Day (albeit in a more adult form).

Roughly 4.5 million copies of Diddy Kong Racing were sold, making it the sixth best-selling N64 game of all time. Following its acquisition by Microsoft in 2002, Rare remade Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo DS in 2007. This version added touch-screen controls and an online multiplayer mode, but replaced Banjo and Conker with Dixie and Tiny Kong, as a result of the original characters now belonging to Microsoft.

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