Home > Chronological Challenge > Chronological Challenge – Diddy Kong Racing & Yoshi’s Story

Chronological Challenge – Diddy Kong Racing & Yoshi’s Story

December 11, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

So, I’ve been posting reviews one at a time lately but today I decided to do something a bit different. Today you’re getting reviews of two N64 games from 1997, both of which I…had some issues with.

I just hope I don’t upset some who class these as their childhood favourites. But then again, I already massively criticised Super Mario 64, so I guess it can’t get much worse!

Diddy Kong Racing
Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Rare | Year: November 1997
Played on: Nintendo 64

Goal: Finish Adventure Mode

Actual Outcome: Defeated the four bosses and then curled up in a ball in horror because I had to do everything a second time due to artificial longevity

So I went to Birmingham Comic Con recently and discovered they sell retro games. So I bought this game, which I remember renting exactly once as a child. So it’s a hastily-added game to the challenge, but it’s here all the same.

I can’t remember why I never ended up adding it to my collection as a kid though. It always seemed like a fun, cute kart racer that would have been right up my alley. Playing it again now after all these years has proven that it is indeed a fun, cute kart racer…albeit one with some maddening design choices that spoil the overall experience.

This is a classic Rare game in its design. It has the same wide-eyed optimism and silliness in its design as other games of the era, and the vibrant colours and collectathon design are practically 90s Rare trademarks. As such, I want to love this game so much because I see the love that went into making it. The karts handle nicely, while the hovercrafts and planes offer up some nice variation, and the presentation is generally adorable.

But I can’t love it, because too many things drive me up the wall. The game is incredibly unforgiving, with some courses offering up turns that force you into weird manoeuvres that usually force you behind the pack, who can seemingly glide around every corner without too much effort. Boss races take this concept even further, as they always jump the gun, are faster than you, and typically do things to block your way in every way possible (that octopus and his many mines…).

Add to this the fact that in order to actually finish the game, you have to play everything twice. Yes, really. Beat a boss challenge, and all the courses in that hub become Silver Coin Challenges, where not only do you have to win, but you also have to collect a set of Silver Coins that are quite often placed in awkward places, forcing you into even weirder manoeuvres than before. It’s like being told to pick up rubbish from the side of the road while trying to win a marathon, and about as enjoyable. Plus the artificial longevity this inflicts on you is kind of sad. The game could have been half the length but twice as enjoyable, but no, it had to be artificially extended.

Diddy Kong Racing is a charming little game with a lot of potential, but is a bit of frustrating mess in practice. Give me Crash Team Racing or a Mario Kart any day.

Yoshi’s Story
Publisher: Nintendo | Developer: Nintendo | Year: December 1997 (Japan)
Original System: Nintendo 64
Played on: Wii Virtual Console

Goal: Collect every melon and hidden heart

Actual Outcome: Unlocked a few levels before giving up out of pure tedium

I remember buying Yoshi’s Story on a whim because it was the only Yoshi game on the Virtual Console at the time and I fancied playing one of them. I played through it and thinking it was a bit weird and a bit short, and I came away not really knowing what to think about it.

And so I return to it for my challenge, and the conclusion I’ve drawn from trying to complete the game 100% is that this is a weird, uncomfortable experiment with a formula that falls flat a lot more than it succeeds.

If you’re just trying to play to the end credits, Yoshi’s Story can offer up about an hour or two of cutesy platforming fun. It’s got some catchy tunes, and Yoshi himself is a little loveable ball of fun who makes adorable noises all the time. The gameplay is unique and interesting – you finish a level by collecting 20 pieces of fruit rather than reaching a goal – and seems like it has a lot of potential. And then you’ll be left wondering why you were often given the option of four levels only to be allowed to play one, and then the cracks begin to show as you start to unravel the reasons behind this.

In order to progress through Yoshi’s Story, you have six worlds, each with four levels. However, despite normal expectations, you can only play one level of each world in Story Mode. All levels are accessible in any order in Trial Mode, but you must finish the levels in Story Mode before they appear in Trial Mode. In order to unlock levels in Story Mode, you must find all of the hidden giant hearts in the level you chose in the previous world – for each heart you find, another level becomes accessible. To complete the game 100%, not only do you need to find the hidden hearts in every single level of Trial Mode once all those levels are unlocked, you have to only eat one specific type of fruit in each level as well.

You probably sound bored and confused reading that. Now imagine having to play that mess.

Yoshi’s Story, when you try to delve further into what it has to offer, is an exercise in pure baffling tedium. Trying to find the hearts and melons required for 100% is made difficult by each level’s maze-like structure and the fact that most of the time these things are hidden in obscure places that don’t always make sense. You also get no clues about where any of these things are, and because of the weird structure of the game, split between a limited Story Mode and a Trial Mode that offers nothing at the start, I found myself wondering why the hell I was even playing this.

Sadly, I got bored quickly and ended the game before too long. I wasn’t about to sit through this forever, and I have no idea who thought this was an entertaining way to put together a game. Too tedious when played to its full potential, and too shallow for anyone just casually playing. Not Nintendo’s finest moment really.

  1. December 13, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    I had a similar experience going back and playing Yoshis Story. It just gets tedious. The art and sound can be interesting and fun at the beginning, but can start to grind on you.

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