Though it's not the true console sequel we all want, DKR DS's promised features look...promising.
Last updated: 07/08/2006 by Evan Burchfield
Diddy Kong Racing DS is Rare's first project for Nintendo's latest handheld, and hopefully not the last. Microsoft, full owner of Rare LTD, has allowed the developer to make titles for the DS (as they did with the GBA), having yet to create their own portable gaming hardware that could compete with Nintendo's. Instead of developing a new game out of an old franchise, or creating a new IP, Rare has opted to update and reinvent their N64 classic Diddy Kong Racing with features optimized for the DS.
Diddy Kong Racing for the N64 was one of the fastest selling videogames of all time due mostly to two factors: the low frequency of must-buy N64 games, and highly innovative gameplay. Attempting to hijack Mario Kart's popular “Grand Prix" arrangement, Rare added hovercraft and airplane races, a large hub world for exploration, and items to collect both during and after the races. They attached a simple narrative to a previously quick-fix genre, resulting in gameplay that is, much unlike Mario Kart, progress driven rather than viscerally motivated. Fans of the original hold it in high regard for its melding of genres and devices, not to mention its graphical and aural ascendancy.
Based on the limited press materials available for DKR DS, it is clear that the original gameplay is intact. The screenshot and video show only kart racing, (no assets yet with hovercraft or airplane races, or even the hub world), but every original gameplay mode and track is assumed to be included. The bottom screen of the DS has been utilized as a map and progress gauge, and silver coins are visible on the track.
During E3 2006 Rare released a list of promised features and enhancements on their website. Among the list are multiplayer with up to 8 players, supposed internet Wi-Fi play (could be a typo on Rare's site, as the term “WiFi" is sometimes used for local wireless features), a track-creator, and a graphical overhaul. Rare also said they will include newly playable, familiar characters - in the sole official screenshot, Tiny Kong is visible, so Kongs of other sorts as well as Banjo-Kazooie characters don't seem unlikely. (Interestingly, Tiny Kong was also planned for the cancelled GameCube title Donkey Kong Racing, which featured animal races, some underwater.)
Rare also mentioned several new components that may alter the gameplay significantly, among them customizable vehicles, new weapons, and touch screen and microphone features. How these last two will be incorporated is still unclear, but Rare seems to be taking the project far more seriously than a typical port. DKR DS does not have a release date as of this writing.