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Video Game / Diddy Kong Racing

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A Mascot Racer spin-off of Donkey Kong Country (sort of) originally released for the Nintendo 64, Diddy Kong Racing puts DK's pal Diddy in the spotlight once more.

While lounging at his pad and eating bananas, Diddy gets a message from his far-off pal, Timber the Tiger. Timber's island home is in trouble—an evil sorcerer FROM SPACE named Wizpig has landed on the island from his UFO, and has claimed it for his own! The only way to oust the foul creature is by... racing him.

Specifically, by racing each other, to gain gold balloons, to be able to race his minions, to claim pieces of his amulet, to open the pathway to his hideout, so then they can race him. With the help of his friends (and a Kremling who snuck along for the ride), Diddy (and Timber) set out to rescue the island by racing.

While the original Diddy Kong Racing was, essentially, a capitalization on the Mario Kart formula, it was unique among kart racers at the time because it actually has a story mode, and even has a colorful Hub Level that connects all the differently-themed levels.

While the tracks in Mario Kart have little in common with one another, the worlds in Diddy Kong Racing (which also served as the "cups") actually have themes to them.

Also, David Wise, the composer for DKC, provides the game's music.

The game contains three vehicles:

  • The car is the standard vehicle, and the easiest to control, but can't navigate different terrains very well.
  • The hovercraft can go over water or lava, but is squirrelly and difficult to control.
  • The plane can fly, but adding a third dimension to the race naturally makes some things more difficult.

Combined with a unique items system, the addition of bosses, a unique "Silver Coin Challenge" mode, and various different types of "battle," Diddy Kong Racing is actually fairly different from Mario Kart.

In 2007, Rareware remade the original, this time for the Nintendo DS. The remake includes several new characters, a huge host of new vehicle upgrades, new items, an entire new world, new challenges, a somewhat unexpected "light-gun shootout" mode for each track, new music, track creation, new personalization modes... Well, let's just say, a lot of stuff. It also drops a few elements. The remake would ultimately be Rare’s last project related to the Donkey Kong franchise as a whole.

This game provides examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Despite being a Fat Bastard and a literal pig, Wizpig is actually faster on foot than on any vehicle.
  • Affably Evil: Most of the bosses in this game are actually very polite, even if you lose to them. Wizpig? Not so much.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: The Updated Re-release Diddy Kong Racing DS added Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong from the Donkey Kong Country series, to fill in the gap left behind when Rareware was purchased by Microsoft and took the rights to Banjo and Conker with them. This had the side-effect of bumping the female roster up from one to three.
  • The Ahnold: Smokey the Dragon sounded a lot like this.
  • All There in the Manual: If you didn't read the manual, then you probably wouldn't know that the island was owned by Timber's parents, who left it in his care when they went on vacation. So, he invites his friends for a party. Their enjoyment is derailed when an evil, intergalactic, pig wizard named Wizpig arrives at the Island and attempts to take over after he conquered his own planet's racetracks. It also explains why Drumstick was turned into a frog- he tried to beat Wizpig and lost.
  • Amazing Technicolor Racetrack: All 5 space levels are extremely colourful even just by the terrain.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: T.T., a living stopwatch.
  • Astral Finale: The final world, Future Fun Land, is set on another planet.
  • Attract Mode: The game's title screen consists of an in-game sequence of wacky introductions by each of the characters. Once the opening ends, the game starts playing itself in 25-second intervals in pairs, showing footage from Greenwood Village, Frosty Village, Hot Top Volcano, Jungle Falls, Boulder Canyon, Ancient Lake, Whale Bay, and Haunted Woods, in that order.
  • Badass Adorable: Most of the cast, really, but Pipsy especially.
  • Beam Spam: Spaceport Alpha and especially Wizpig's second race. In the former, there's one corridor where you're running headfirst into a volley of lasers coming from the far end of it. In the latter, everything's shooting lasers at you, from spaceships scattered about, to the sky, to floating rocks. There's even one room where lasers are almost everywhere (thankfully there's a shield item shortly before this room).
    • The lasers in the second Wizpig battle get worse in the DS version, as this time around they FOLLOW YOU!
  • Beary Friendly: Banjo is a nice and friendly bear.
  • Benevolent Genie: Taj, who you can talk with in the hub level. He can change your vehicle between the three options (car, plane, hovercraft).
  • Big Boo's Haunt: The Haunted Woods racetrack, which is haunted by flying Wizpig heads.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The official strategy guide includes a disparaging reference to the bananas of distributor Nintendo's own Mario Kart 64.
  • Boss Corridor: All of the major world hubs have a corridor linking the room/wall with the Boss Door to the main hub with T.T.; the last world actually has a big hall between the T.T. Door (you need all of the game's balloons and the T.T. Amulet to open this door) and a giant door with Wizpig on it, which leads to the final race of the game.note 
  • Brainwashing: This is how Wizpig made the four bosses guard the pieces of the amulet. The bosses are able to give you the amulet piece, but only if you beat them in race.
  • Buff: Krunch was extremely difficult to use in the original game, having very low acceleration and utterly atrocious handling. His best trait was his impressive top speed, but Bumper did everything he did better. In the remake, his handling was much improved, making it easier to take advantage of his top speed.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: There's a whole world hidden behind one of the waterfalls on the island, which is hinted at when the music changes as you get close to the waterfall.
  • Cheat Code: There's quite a list of them. Their abilities include, but are not limited to:
    • Making all of the balloons one color
    • Making the AI ungodly hard
    • Changing the size of the racers
    • Allowing two players to use the same racer
  • Cherubic Choir: By getting close to the frogs in the Hub Level, you will be able to hear children singing.
  • Chicken Joke: The official strategy guide gives Drumstick's handling as a possible punchline.
    Why did the chicken cross the road? Probably because the rooster was driving on the sidewalk. Drumstick is one bird who's hard to handle.
  • City of Adventure: The island.
  • Classic Cheat Code: The original game offered a "password" screen; entering the right codes would do everything from making the characters look goofy, making the A.I. ungodly hard, or race-affecting things like changing all the Power-Up balloons to one color (type) or making all balloons automatically give the highest-leveled item of that type. Combining several of those can either lead to races becoming really hellish, or really awesome, depending on one's point of view.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The item balloons come in red, blue, green, yellow, and rainbow. All balloons have the ability to power-up and give stronger items if more than one balloon of a certain color is collected.
    • The blue balloons act as speed boosts.
    • The red balloons give you rocket projectiles.
    • The green balloons give you a certain trap: an oil slick (or a cloud of green dust if using a plane), a mine, and a bubble.
    • The yellow balloons give you temporary barriers.
    • The rainbow balloons give you magnets of varying strengths and abilities.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The hovercraft has no problems driving over the lava in Hot Top Volcano. Given its bright yellow appearance, maybe it's just cheese fondue?
  • Deliberately Jumping the Gun: In the boss races, the bosses start before the signal to go.
  • Developer's Foresight: The developers of the DS version gave Taj a rather... unique piece of dialogue if you talk to him while playing as him. The piece of dialogue in question has a tone of utter confusion.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Smokey and Bubbler shoot out projectilesnote  that would only slow you down if you were behind them. Tricky also invokes this trope by toppling massive pillars with vibrations from his running.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: The first race against Wizpig. While it seems as if you've ousted him, and the credits roll... There's still an entire world left, and it requires you to beat every Trophy Race and T.T. Challenge, as well as all its own tracks and challenges.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: The T.T. Amulet is in four pieces. The Wizpig Amulet is also in four pieces. You need both amulets to win the game.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: The game was originally planned as a sequel to R.C. Pro-Am.
  • Drought Level of Doom: The first race against Wizpig is devoid of any balloons, limiting the player to masterful use of the boosters for a chance at beating him.
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Banjo and Conker both went on to star in their own series, and Tiptup made an appearance in the Banjo series.
    • And although she did not appear in person at all in this game, Kazooie was actually first mentioned in the game's instructions manual. A literal Early-Bird Cameo.
    • Tricky was supposed to be this, but the game he was going to have a major appearance in became rebranded to become a part of the Star Fox universe. Star Fox Adventures ends up having a different-looking triceratops also named Tricky that has no relation to the one here.
  • Evil Laugh: Pretty much Wizpig's calling card. Additionally, Smokey will mock you this way should you lose to him.
    • Wizpig gave a whole generation of gamers nightmares with his boisterous guffaws and sinister chuckles.
    • Though he isn't evil, Smokey will do this if you lose to him.
      Smokey: BAD LUCK! HA HA HA HAAA! Try again whenever you're ready!
  • Fake Longevity: One gets this feeling given that the single player mode requires you to, for each world, race on all the tracks, beat the boss, collect silver coins in each track, beat the boss again, and then face Wizpig when this has been done with all worlds. If you want the real ending, you need to enter a grand prix to win a trophy in each world, beat the bosses again, and rinse and repeat the initial and coin races in a new world before facing Wizpig one more time.
  • Final Boss: Wizpig himself is the last main race on the island after beating the other bosses and assembling the Wizpig Amulet, and also the last race in his own world, Future Fun Land, after the player obtains all 47 balloons, wins the 4 island trophies, and assembles the T.T. Amulet.
  • Floating in a Bubble: The third-level green item is a bubble that will trap whoever runs into it inside for a few seconds.
  • Funny Octopus: Bubbler the big red octopus, the boss of Sherbet Island.
  • Gangplank Galleon: Pirate Lagoon.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Krunch the Kremling. Wizpig becomes this once you unlock him in the DS version.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The silver coin challenges.
  • Graceful Loser: Besides Wizpig, each boss congratulates you on your victory and some of them even seem pleased that you beat them. This is likely because they were brainwashed and forced to be antagonists in the first place.
  • Green Hill Zone: The first track, Ancient Lake.
  • Guest Fighter: Banjo, Tiptup and Conker are playable racers here, and before their games even came out to boot!
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The hidden keys, especially the one in Dragon Forest. You need all of them to be able to complete the T.T. amulet, which is needed to finish the game.
    • The zipper trick. If you lift your finger off the accelerator before you drive through a zipper (or use a blue balloon), and keep it lifted off until you see rainbow-coloured smoke, then you'll get a much bigger boost. Neither the manual or the game mention this. Even if you were paying attention when Taj hinted at the existence of this mechanic, he neglects to say that you need to keep the accelerator released to get the full effect. Hence, when you see that your boost is green instead of yellow after running through a zipper with the accelerator released, you may be fooled into thinking that you have executed the zipper trick, when you actually have not gained the full effect. Releasing the accelerator any longer than you think is necessary is very unintuitive in a racing game, especially when you're trying to keep up with Wizpig, who cannot be beaten without this mechanic (the first race on the island only; the second race in Future Fun Land has no zippers, is more crooked and has obstacles, uses the balloons instead, and Wizpig is actually slower here).
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Most of the 2D objects, including the various traps left by players or most bosses, have surprisingly large hitboxes. In a small act of mercy, this includes the Silver Coins, meaning you could drive just sort of nearby them and pick them up without actually driving through them. In the remake, however, they're more sensibly sized.
  • Honorable Elephant: Taj, the genie elephant who helps the player throughout the game and rewards them if they won a race or challenge.
  • Hub Level: The island.
  • Ice Palace: Icicle Pyramid, Snowflake Mountain's battle course, is just what it sounds like - a pyramid made of ice.
  • I Got Bigger: The DS version reintroduced Tiny Kong in her first appearance since Donkey Kong 64, but now she's easily twice as tall as in her previous incarnation.
  • Infinity -1 Sword: Taj and Wizpig, when they're unlocked as playable racers. Despite their stats suggesting they have turning even worse than Krunch, they actually handle reasonably well. Of course the game must be beaten one or two times respectively to unlock. Also, Drumstick in both versions. He has terrible turning and acceleration, but is very, very fast.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: T.T. - only accessible after beating the game, and quite a challenge at that, but ungodly powerful.
  • In Name Only: Only two characters (out of ten) in the original game were actually Donkey Kong Country related: Diddy, and Krunch the Kremling. The remake included Dixie Kong and Tiny Kong, in order to even the balance—and to replace Conker and Banjo, who had been removed for copyright reasons with Microsoft. A secret sixth world was also added, which was full of DK-themed tracks—and finally used the Donkey Kong Country theme in the game.
  • Jack of All Stats: Diddy, naturally. In the remake, Dixie and Tiny join him in this regard. Timber is also one.
  • Jerkass:
    • Bubbler may not be evil, but he's certainly enough of a jerk to mock you if you lose to him - more so than even Smokey, who taunts you with an Evil Laugh after yelling "BAD LUCK!".
    • This also applies to Wizpig, who mocks the player's racer before both of his races, plays a sore loser after being beat the first time, and then crashes a celebration party before he leaves.
  • Jungle Japes: Suprisingly averted on the original; played straight in the DS remake, which gives a DK-themed world.
  • Kid Hero: All of the playable racers are kids with the exception of maybe T.T.
  • Large Ham: Wizpig.
  • Leitmotif: On the character select screen, each character changes the instruments playing in the theme song, except Diddy, who replaces the melody with the song from Donkey Kong Country.
  • Lethal Joke Character: In the original, Krunch the Kremling is terrible in the kart and meh in the plane... but does unexpectedly well in the hovercraft, due to the hovercraft's handling having more to do with your character's weight than their handling stat.
    • Difficult, but Awesome: Krunch is a perfectly competent racer when handled properly... which takes a whole lot of practice and getting used to, but once you've got it down, his handling is a non-issue and he gets to shine as the fastest default racer in the game.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Hot Top Volcano, which is found within Dino Domain. But what did you expect with a name like that?
  • Level Editor: The DS game's Wish Races. It's not fancy (you can draw your track and decide how bumpy it is, but that's it), but it is still an editor.
  • Level in Reverse: Adventure 2 mode does this to all the tracks, flipping each and every one horizontally similar to Mirror Mode in the Mario Kart series.
  • Level in the Clouds: This is where T.T.'s "Wish Races" take place in the remake.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Drumstick the Chicken, once he's activated. His top speed is one of the highest in the game and he's bulky enough to use the hovercraft efficiently. Also, unlike Krunch, his handling and acceleration don't suck.
  • Mirror Match: One of the cheat codes in the original version allows players to chose the same character.
    • In the DS port, try talking to Taj while you're playing as Taj as well. He's... understandably confused by the situation.
      Taj: Am I going crazy? I'm talking to myself! What can I do for... you?
  • Missing Secret:
    • In the DS remake, in Treasure Caves, there are some coins you can't grab in your car because you're too high up. This might lead one to think that you can unlock the alternate vehicles for use in single player, right? Nope—in the DS remake, you are always limited to the default vehicles in single player.
    • There's also Coin Bombs, which are bombs that look like coins. They're meant to fool others into thinking they're real coins. But that only works in multiplayer, and there are no coins in multiplayer! Is there a way to enable them? You'd think so, but nope. They're basically just five landmines, and the artifice means little.
    • Unlike the other worlds, Future Fun Land doesn't have a battle stage. However, in Spaceport Alpha, you can find a small alcove just past the starting line that seems like where the key to unlock it would be hidden. There is no key there, though, or in any of the other levels in the world. Additionally, when on the track-selection screen, switching quickly between the Future Fun Land Trophy Race and Smokey Castle allows you to get a quick glimpse at the window for what would be Future Fun Land's battle stage.
  • Mood Dissonance: An unintentional example; whenever you complete a race, you hear TT joyfully say "Finish!" — even if you don't win. This can lead to cases where you hear a depressing "you lost" sting and TT's happy shout at the same time.
  • Mutually Exclusive Power-Ups: The original version replaces one item with another, losing upgrades in the process. In the DS version, you can't grab a new balloon color unless you use up the one you're holding first.
  • New Game Plus: Beating the game the first time unlocks "Adventure 2," which has all the tracks mirrored and which moves the coins in the Silver Coin Challenge. In the remake, your Adventure and Adventure 2 games share the same slot, as well as sharing upgrades and money between them.
  • Nice Mice: Pipsy the Mouse.
  • Noodle Incident: Leigh Loveday mentioned that Bumper the Badger is in jail.
  • Nostalgia Level: Although the Silver Coin Challenges were cut from the main game in the remake, they were included as an unlockable extra.
    • All DK-themed levels qualify.
  • Oil Slick: The first-level green item in Diddy Kong Racing. They'll send someone spinning, slowing them down, and, in the DS Video Game Remake, they also screw up their car's steering for a few seconds afterward. It becomes a gas cloud if you're piloting the plane.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: The unlockable characters:
    • Drumstick to the other heavyweights. He has the same acceleration and top speed as Banjo and Krunch, but of those three, he has the best handling, with 3 in that stat compared to Krunch's 1 and Banjo's 2.
    • T.T. has the best stats of any playable character, with 5/5 in both acceleration and top speed, and 4/5 in handling, giving him a 14/15 in stats overall. His handling stat is beaten only by Pipsy, who is slower.
  • Palmtree Panic: The third world, Sherbet Island.
  • Panthera Awesome: Timber the Tiger.
  • Pickup Hierarchy:
    • Primary: Wizpig Amulet Pieces
    • Secondary: Golden Balloons
    • Tertiary: Bananas (original)/Coins (remake)
    • Extra: Keys (and by association, T.T. Amulet Pieces), Trophies
  • Plot Coupon: Gold (Silver balloons in Adventure 2) Balloons, four keys, four trophies, and two amulets. Collect the Gold/Silver Balloons to unlock more race tracks and some bosses. Race four bosses to win four pieces of the Wizpig Amulet and open Trophy Races. Find four keys, unlock four battle arenas, and win four pieces of the T.T. Amulet by coming in first in the battle arenas. Compete in a grand prix to get a trophy for each world. You need every balloon to unlock all the tracks (including the boss tracks), the Wizpig Amulet to race him the first time, the trophies to unlock the final world, and the T.T. amulet to race Wizpig the second time.
  • Prehistoria: The first world, Dino Domain.
  • Production Foreshadowing: The manual's backstory seems to make a point that Diddy specifically brought Banjo and Conker along to help Timber. Banjo would eventually star in his own game alongside Kazooie after Rare reworked their ideas from Project Dream, and Conker would have had Twelve Tales before it would reworked into Conker's Bad Fur Day.
  • Recurring Boss: All 5 of the bosses in the game have to be raced twice as the game proceeds. The rematches against the island bosses (Tricky, Bluey, Bubbler, and Smoky) are simply harder versions of their first races, but the second race with Wizpig in Future Fun Land to close the game is entirely different from Race 1 on the island.
  • Red Ones Go Faster:
    • Three of the four bosses are red, and they're no slouches when it comes to speed.
    • Drumstick drives a red car, T.T. has a red body, and both are faster than the rest of the playable set.
    • Oddly enough, Diddy Kong, despite wearing red, is not an example, being more of a middle-ground type than anything.
  • Remember the New Guy?: According to the manual, Conker and Banjo befriended Diddy during one of the latter's adventures with Donkey Kong.
  • Reused Character Design: Pipsy the Mouse was reworked from the protagonist of a cancelled Rare game, Astro Mouse.
  • Ribcage Ridge: Jungle Falls has a large dinosaur's skeleton to drive through at the end of the lap, with a boost pad in its mouth.
  • Roaring Rapids: Boulder Canyon.
  • Rubber-Band A.I.: Likely present elsewhere, but a very notable inversion is present during the rematch against Tricky. If you're falling behind, Tricky will slow to a snail's pace for a few seconds right before the finish line, allowing the player to pass him if you're close enough.
  • Sailor Fuku: For some reason, Pipsy the mouse wears a sailor suit. Is she a schoolgirl? Is she Japanese? Hard to say, but she's got the costume anyway.
  • Secret Level: Future Fun Land would count, but it's necessary to finish the game. But the remake gives us D.K. Island, which is a textbook secret world.
  • Shifting Sand Land: The second track in Dino Domain, Fossil Canyon.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Spaceport Alpha course contains a "laser trench" similar to the one from A New Hope.
    • The music contains parts that sound similar to the Thunderbirds theme.
    • Star City's tunnel is literally modeled after Epcot Center at Disney World.
    • Several of the cheat codes from the N64 original have shout out names. The code that makes all characters big is "Arnold;" the one that makes all balloons green is "Toxic Offender."
  • Silliness Switch: Several were included in the game's original cheats. There were codes to make characters huge or small, change the horn sounds to taunts, and other amusing things.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The second world, Snowflake Mountain. Ironically, the ice is neither Slippy nor Slidey. It is, however, very Bouncy.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Pipsy was the only female character in the original release.
  • Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: There's not much plot to be spoken of, but in the DS port, Tiny seems a lot older than her previous appearance, while her older sister, Dixie, looks the same as she always has.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: It doesn't matter what level you're playing, the music will speed up once you hit the final lap, unless it's a boss level.
  • Sore Loser: How does Wizpig take his first loss? By throwing a tantrum immediately afterwards, and then showing up at the subsequent victory party to fuck it up, even remotely controlling his ship to invoke Bullet Dancing on the cast!
  • Space Zone: Future Fun Land.
  • Species Surname: Timber the Tiger, Bumper the Badger, Tiptup the Turtle...
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Most of the game is made of polygons, but the plants and the wheels are sprites.
  • Squashed Flat: Any racer who's flattened by a hazard, such as a dinosaur or a giant snowball, will briefly be flattened like a pancake.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Inverted with Banjo, who speaks english in this game but only grunts in his own series. Played straight with Diddy.
  • Super-Fun Happy Thing of Doom: Future Fun Land is NOT fun. Well, not EASY fun, anyway.
  • Take That!: Nintendo Power's official strategy guide includes one to Mario Kart 64:
    Forget everything you've ever learned about bananas from certain other racing adventures.
  • Temper-Ceratops: Downplayed with Tricky the Triceratops. While he is the boss of Dino Domain and intimidating looking, he is not particularly aggressive or temperamental. Like the other bosses sans Wizpig, he will congratulate the player for beating him, likely because he was brainwashed by Wizpig. The end credits even reveal that he has a family.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard:
    • The bosses will always give themselves a head start. The only exception to this is, surprisingly, the race against Wizpig in Future Funland.
    • Computer racers will only be affected by weapons and hazards while they're onscreen. Green balloons in particular are pretty much useless outside of battle mode.
  • The Dragon: The four guardians of the island are hypnotized to be this to Wizpig. Taken literally in Smokey's case.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: Sherbet Island, featuring a lot of beach and pirate-themed tracks.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • In the remake, the "Balloon Touch Challenge" found on every course is similar to a light gun arcade game. It replaces the Silver Coin Challenge from the original game.
    • Another example in the DS version exists in the bosses' second rematches, which have you tracing on the touchscreen map to drive rather than using more conventional controls.
  • Unlockable Difficulty Levels: By beating Adventure mode once, you unlock "Adventure Two", which features harder CPU racers and silver coins in harder-to-reach places.
  • Variable Mix: The overworld, changing due to your proximity to the different world entrances, or to Taj and the frogs. (Taj hums along with the melody, and the frogs... add singing children. OK, then.) Interestingly, one—but only one—of the tracks uses it too—Boulder Canyon's song changes from oompah to more dramatic when you're in the track's castle. Finally, the character select screen changes the instrument used to play the melody depending on who is selected.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Tricky the Triceratops, who is suddenly unexpectedly tough. There's a shortcut that makes it easier. Blubber's second race is downright challenging.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After beating Wizpig for the second time, the only character to not be seen in the following cut scene is the Octopus boss.
  • Wily Walrus: Downplayed with Bluey the Walrus. Despite being one of the bosses that the heroes must race, and despite his Malevolent Mugshot appearing on his racetrack, he doesn't really do or say anything particularly villainous, and comes across as quite Affably Evil.
  • Windmill Scenery: Windmill Plains, as expected from the name, contains several windmills acting as decoration.
  • Worthy Opponent: By the end, Wizpig seems to regard you as such.