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Best Racing Games Of All Time | Diddy Kong Racing 64

Updated on September 20, 2009

The Best Toon?

From the starting grid with no unlocked toons, I'd go with the mouse, Pipsy. She may be a little slower than the others in terms of top speed, but her handling is utterly superb.

A few hints for those struggling to beat bosses:

  • Pressing 'A' when you the 'Get Ready' letters fade will give you a rocket fast start and make all the difference in the world.
  • Taking your finger off 'A' briefly before you hit the zippers (red and yellow lines or tunnels which give you a speed boost,) significantly increases the boost you get when you hit them.
  • Pick up balloon power ups, they really do make a difference.

Diddy Kong Racing for the Nintendo 64 came out in 1997, and when it did it was partially embraced as being one of the best looking games of the years and a darn good racer and partially dismissed because it was called 'Diddy Kong' and involved racing toons around toon tracks.

As a console and PC Gamer, I've played my share of both 'racing' games and 'racing simulation' games. Whilst Diddy Kong certainly isn't and has never pretended to be a racing simulation game, it is one of the best racing games I've ever come across and that's when compared to the Gran Turismo series, the Need For Speed series and other classics like Lego Racers, Exciteabike, and Mario Kart.

Why? Well let's start with the most obvious, the graphics and ambiance. Diddy Kong was created with traditional Nintendo attention to friendly ambiance. Whilst Playstation tried to carve out a niche of gritty realism, the most successful Nintendo games of all time have been cartoon style games. (The Zelda franchise and the ubiquitous Mario franchise are two of the biggest winners.) Some games were created in a more 'realistic' style for the Nintendo 64, but personally I found them ugly to the point of being unplayable.

So you have music and graphics conspiring to put you in a good mood before you even start the game. Then you get into actual game play and realize that in spite of the fact it looks like a toybox threw up on your screen, this is a very well balanced racer. The early levels are, of course, easy and you'll probably win them at all. It's not until you come to the first Boss race that you realize that this game actually has the potential to be quite challenging.

In addition to a gazillion tracks (they seem never ending, but there are really only 20 or so plus some extra unlockable ones,) you also race in karts, hovercraft and planes. I can't tell you how much fun it is to be able to fly around tracks that you were once earthbound on.

Although Diddy Kong Racing 64 looks and sounds like a kid's game, it is intensely playable by adults as well. If you remember owning this game but no longer have a Nintendo 64, you can download an emulator like Project 64, track down free Nintendo 64 roms hosted online. (It's legal to download them if you actually own the game,) and re-live the joy you experienced over a decade ago.

If you're a parent looking for a game suitable for kids, you can't really go past Diddy Kong Racing 64, it is challenging enough to be fun, easy enough to give them a sense of achievement and nobody gets their heads shot off. Win, win, win!


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