Diddy Kong Racing was a fan favorite on Nintendo 64, but a handful of sequels to the kart-racing party game never made it to shelves. In a new installment of Past to Present Online, a series of videos dedicated to unreleased games, archivist Andrew Borman peels back the curtain on one of those canceled projects: Diddy Kong Racing Adventure for Nintendo GameCube.
The footage Borman shares in his eight-minute video suggests an early build that was still early in development. Climax Studios worked on the game sometime in 2004, Borman says, which deviated from the N64 title’s multiplayer formula for a single-player emphasis. Although there was still an emphasis on racing, Diddy forgoes a kart for a rhino in the clips we see, adding in numerous weapons and other kinds of vehicles for some character-based variety.
The story sees Diddy Kong and his other returning pals set off to save Congo Island from some enterprising, capitalistic villains. Over the course of several areas, which players first find in black-and-white before freeing them from enemy control, they would unlock characters while traveling to and racing on different tracks at will.
Much of what we know about this unreleased game is based on what Borman’s narration. Along with the limited development footage, there’s some concept art and illustrations detailing what Borman describes as Diddy Kong Adventure’s unique controls and innovations. Much of these are left up to imagination, however — much like the game itself, which he explains was affected by Microsoft’s purchase of original developer Rare in the mid-2000s.
Although Climax Studios’ project sounded ambitious, the team didn’t get far with it. Diddy Kong Racing Adventure’s fate is even more disappointing than that of another canceled sequel, Diddy Kong Pilot, which was transformed into the Game Boy Advance title Banjo-Pilot.
Also trashed post-Microsoft buyout was Donkey Kong Racing, which would have followed Diddy’s older relative instead. Rare originally developed the game to be Diddy Kong Racing’s GameCube sequel, as lead designer Lee Musgrave said in 2014. A trailer debuted at 2001, but the project took a turn toward the open-world genre once in Microsoft’s hands, before being canceled outright.
There is an updated Diddy Kong Racing in the mix, at least. The game got a remake on Nintendo DS in 2007, although reception was largely unkind.