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  • Annoying Video-Game Helper: It is rather easy to trigger dialogue with T.T. as he's wandering around the level hubs, even if you don't intend to. Especially pesky in the DS version, where he doesn't actually do anything useful besides make comments.
  • Awesome Music: As expected from a David Wise soundtrack. Some gems include:
    • The Intro theme in all of its glory.
    • Spaceport Alpha's theme is very awesome, which is good because you'll be playing the Silver Coin challenge quite a lot.
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    • Darkmoon Caverns, one of the most infectious and varied pieces in the soundtrack. Doubles as the first credits theme.
    • Pirate Lagoon
    • Crescent Island, also used as the second credits theme.
    • Hot Top Volcano, one of the most iconic tracks from the game (in both the musical and gameplay senses.) It's timed exactly such that when you typically hit the final lap and speed up, the drum breakdown kicks in...
    • The lobby/select your level music, which doubles as an ear worm.
    • The DS version gave tracks that previously shared their music with another track their own themes. Exhibit A: The new Jungle Falls. Upbeat Tribal Chanting + a seriously catchy xylophone line = awesome.
    • The DS version's Snowball Valley. Not only does it sound more Christmassy than the original music, it has an infectious clapping-and-jingle-bell breakdown near the end.
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    • The new Spaceport Alpha theme (with the old theme still being used in Spacedust Alley.) It has a great, mysterious outer-space feel to it.
    • Strangled Shrine, used for one of the DS-exclusive tracks. It's evocative of the already fantastic Hot Top Volcano theme, but more watery, which is pretty much what Strangled Shrine is. The brass stings are pretty epic, too.
    • Wizpig Challenge, the song that plays when you race Wizpig in both big final showdowns, is appropriately badass and intense.
    • Frosty Village is a really beautiful song that really reminds one of an Elvis-inspired 1950s-type boogie tune, especially the epic laid-steel guitar and bouncy bass in the background.
  • Breather Boss: Bluey is significantly easier than Tricky is, despite being the second world's boss.
  • Broken Base:
    • The DS port. On one hand, it adds a ton of new content, like new tracks, new modes, new characters, new music, and even new fun doodads to mess with (like the Sound Recorder). On the other hand, the new quickstart is a Scrappy Mechanic, the hovercraft is much more difficult to control, Banjo and Conker are lost to the copyright gods, the new voice clips are crappy, and trophy races and battle modes are no longer possible in single player. Fans are very divided.
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    • Tiny Kong's older Ms. Fanservice redesign in the same port. Some loved it, while others missed old Tiny and thought fanservicing up a child character was creepy.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Pipsy was used by most people, male or female, because she combined adorable characteristics with a simple and effective style for racing.
    • Also Tiptup, who had slightly higher top speed and slightly lower acceleration and handling, and went on to cameo in Banjo-Kazooie (where, contrary to this game, he is considerably bigger than Banjo.)
    • And T.T.? Apart from being a great host and mentor, as a playable character, he broke the game, to say the least.
  • Game-Breaker:
    • If you unlock T.T., practically every race becomes a joke. Thankfully when put into the hands of a computer, he drives at a much lower top speed.
    • The Acceleration Glitch is a Good Bad Bug that allows you to go faster than your normal top speed. It allows you to take down certain bosses (and clear certain T.T. times) with ease.
  • Good Bad Bugs: Tapping A rather than holding it while racing in the car makes it perpetually gain speed, to the point where it's actually possible to lap Wizpig.
    • It's possible to get out of bounds in Hot Top Volcano by using a blue balloon power up to shoot yourself into the lava and aim yourself so when it bounces you out, you're past the collision preventing you from leaving. This also allows you to enter the fourth world way before you should be able to.
    • There's a frame or two between crossing the finish line and losing control of your character. During this time, you can pause and choose to exit the track, which skips the cutscene of Taj giving you the balloon. Since the game registers you as winning, you still get the balloon when you leave the track's door.
  • It Was His Sled: There is a fifth world, Future Fun Land. You get there by having 1st place trophies in the four worlds and colliding with the signpost placard that displays them.
  • Memetic Mutation: "Pirate Lagoon" has gained recent notoriety from its pervasive use as background music in YouTube meme compilations.
  • Moment of Awesome:
    • The ending after you beat Wizpig the second time.
    • Before that, the lighthouse transforming into a rocket to take you to Future Fun Land.
  • Most Wonderful Sound:
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Jeez, could they have made the jingle for attaining a Wizpig Amulet fragment any more startling??
    • This cutscene that plays when you go back out into the main hub area after collecting all the pieces of the Wizpig Amulet. In short, the giant stone head of Wizpig in the hub world comes alive and begins laughing maniacally after being restored to full flesh before giving the camera, which is slowly zooming in on the eyes, a Death Glare.
    • The Gameboy Advanced-looking animations after you hit a character with an item in the DS version are HORRIFYING, especially Pipsy and Tiptup's, notably due to their eyes turning red.
    • The sting that plays when you lose a battle stage or a boss race can send chills down anyone's spine, let alone those of kids.
    • As mentioned above, the loud, discordant "No Entry" sting, which plays when trying to access a locked area, can easily be a Jump Scare if you're not expecting it. The comments section of the linked video is filled with users remarking on how it frightened them as kids.
    • Wizpig went from this to this in the transition to the DS.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Downplayed. The hub-world with the gigantic Wizpig head looming over it can seem somewhat eerie and creepy thanks to the game's Obvious Beta status, and even after its texture changes completely from rock to skin and its mouth opens after completing the Wizpig amulet, the head only comes alive in a cutscene.
  • That One Boss:
    • Tricky's second race is meant to be a Wake-Up Call Boss, but that doesn't prevent the boost of speed he receives to be complete bullshit. Do NOT allow him to pull ahead of you before the spiraling section, otherwise you'll need to be absolutely perfect with boosts and the homing missile to keep up.
    • Bubbler's second race is considered by many people to be the toughest race in the game, next to Wizpig's races on Adventure 2. It's all thanks to the freaking time-wasting bubbles that eat up precious seconds if they catch you, and the course having too many turns and obstacles to make missiles reliable.
    • The first race against Wizpig is damn near IMPOSSIBLE unless you know what to do. You need to use the zipper trick (let go of the gas before getting a boost) to beat it. Unfortunately it's quite possible for players to never to get this bit of info, since it only shows up randomly after bosses. If players don't know the zipper trick, the one way to beat Wizpig is trying to get a boost start and stay in front of Wizpig all the time, hoping his foot will hit the player as he runs, pushing the kart forward. It requires insane timing as messing the position of your car up will result in Wizpig squashing you. Wizpig's first race is either a Guide Dang It! or a Luck-Based Mission.
      • Even if a player receives Taj's hint concerning the zipper trick, it's quite possible that they will not interpret it correctly. If you release the gas while going over a zipper, the boost will be green instead of the usual purple, and you may incorrectly conclude that you have executed the zipper trick. This is wrong. In order to get the full effect, you must keep your finger off the gas until you see rainbow smoke. This is very unintuitive if you're desperately trying to keep up with Wizpig.
      • There's also a special acceleration trick which only works on cars. Due to the immediate acceleration bump when you press the A button being so great with cars that it can override the designated top speed, repeatedly tapping the A button can make you go up to 10 mph faster than you're supposed to. This doesn't work with hovercrafts or airplanes, however, or when you're driving a car on off-track terrain, and seems to be a glitch since you're never told about it as an actual hint.
  • That One Level:
    • Many of the normal levels during the Silver Coin Challenge, but especially Greenwood Village.
    • This gets much worse in Future Fun Land, particularly Spaceport Alpha.
    • Adventure 2 makes it even worse by changing the locations of some of the coins, so you can't just go off to where they were in Adventure 1.
  • That One Sidequest:
    • Unlocking T.T. as a playable character requires beating his best time on every track. And he's good. In the original, this means unlocking the fifth and final world... In the DS version, this means both unlocking the final world and buying all the tracks in the D.K. Jungle world. Of course, once you get T.T., you have no excuse for losing to anyone ever. You practically need Drumstick to get some of the tracks, like Darkmoon Caverns.
    • In the DS version, getting all the balloons in the "Balloon Touch Challenge" can be frustrating for some courses. In fact, it is oftentimes the courses that are otherwise the easiest to race on where they are the hardest, since those courses are shorter and so there are more balloons in one area, forcing you to tap like mad to get them all before they pass by for good.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Many fans of the original are not keen on how the DS version changed several key mechanics, such as changing boost starts to touchscreen and microphone gimmicks based on vehicle type and implementing a completely different control scheme for the bosses' second rematches.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy: The hovercraft is widely hated for its absolutely horrible maneuvering (especially where if you turn too hard then it basically comes to a complete stop) and the fact that it bounces all over the place if you run into any walls. Worse yet, two of the four initial boss races stick you with it, one of which is That One Boss.
  • Waggle: The DS port clearly and poorly tried to cash in on the DS's unique gimmicks. Trying to do a boost start now requires swiping up on the touchscreen (kart), blowing into the mic (hovercraft), or sliding the stylus in circles (plane); the stylus-based methods force you to immediately put the stylus down and both hands back on your DS, unless you decide to just try to awkwardly drag your finger on the touchscreen. Then there's each of the bosses' third rounds, where instead of the more traditional controls you have to drive by tracing on the touchscreen map.
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