Top 100 N64 Review: #29 – Diddy Kong Racing (1997)

Diddy Kong Racing > Mario Kart.

And my angry thoughts about Bumper the Badger.  

LesLites’ Ranking#29/100
My Rating: StarStarStarStarStar

Diddy Kong Racing (DKR) is everything you could want from a racing game. While Mario Kart 64 is just a straight up race for first, DKR has multiple-layers where it ratchets up the difficulty one notch at a time. As the game continues to tie your hands behind your back, you have to get more skilled and adept — no star power ups to save you here.

And it has adorable creatures to boot…except that piece of trash badger.

Bumper the Badger

Diddy Kong Racing n64 island
Timber’s private island. His parents have weird taste.


Timber the Tiger  Timber the Tiger is left alone to his own devices on a private island. He invites his friends over (Banjo the BearTipsy the TurtlePipsy The Mouse.png Conker the Squirrel.pngDiddy Kong.png) and instead of throwing a rager, they have a friendly game of go kart racing. An intergalactic pig (?) ruins it for everyone though and puts the four guardians of the island in bondage and demands complete allegiance. Strange behavior except compared to Bumper who eats things out of trash cans. Bumper the Badger

Diddy Kong Racing n64 Racially insensitive
I’m not sure how Taj, the racially insensitive Indian Elephant, gets involved.


If variety is the spice of life then DKR provides more basil than your homemade sauce can handle (get the hell out of here Bumper Bumper the Badger — it’s not for you). 

Instead of just selecting racing tracks from a menu, you are dropped off on an island. This immediately leads to exploration as you start to navigate the nooks and crannies of Timber’s Timber the Tiger private island. From here, you start to find doors that lead to the racetracks.

Each world consists of a similar tier of challenges. First, you have to beat each level outright. Then, you face the boss of the world in a 1-on-1 match. Victory then kicks you back to repeat the world but with a caveat: you have to now collect 8 silver coins in each stage WHILE coming in first. This is when DKR is the most fun.

Diddy Kong Racing n64 Coins
Winning is easy…but winning and getting 8 coins? That’s tough.

In early stages the coins are easy enough to get and easily come in first, but as the game progresses, the coins are spread out in very far off places requiring complete knowledge of each race course and having the requisite skill to make up lost ground.

After this, you  return to the boss and repeat your previous race with some slight change that skews the race in their favor (head start, increased speed, etc.). Winning the race leads you to be congratulated by derpy animals with deep voices.

Diddy Kong Racing Acid trip n64
Acid flashback?

This unlocks the chance to race for a trophy. Instead of individual, solitary tracks, this mode puts all of the races together to create one series. Akin to Mario Kart, each place nets a certain amount of points. By the end of the four races, you better be in first or you’ll have to repeat it all again.

Diddy Kong Racing Trophy
I swear to God badger if you think i’m just going to let you get away with this, you are very mistaken. 

If that wasn’t enough, a hidden key is placed in each world. Finding this key unlocks a battle mode where you have to beat out three other computer players.

By the end of this process, you have thoroughly conquered each map and know intimately every nook and cranny. It’s time to move onto the next world and repeat the process.

Didd Kong Racing no better feeling
No better feeling.

The replay doesn’t end there. There are additional time trials, hidden characters to unlock, and a mode where all the race tracks are reversed. When it comes to variety, you just can’t compete with Diddy Diddy Kongand his friends.


Just a richer experience than what most racing games give.

Other People’s Takes:

  • NintendoBound: “Diddy Kong Racing is able to, with a great deal of charm and creativity, lift itself above the generic building blocks it uses.”
  • retr0pia: “THE BOTTOM LINE – Although it suffers from overcomplexity and a childish tone, Diddy Kong Racing is still a fun time nonetheless.”
  • Next Level Reviews: “If you never got the chance to play this game growing up then you missed out on a great racing game.”

One comment

  1. A great game, and thanks for quoting my review. I appreciate the nod!

    As for Bumper, he was actually my favorite back when I was a kid. Then I became a Pipsy guy and never looked back.


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