Monday, March 4, 2013

Copyright Catastrophe: Diddy Kong Racing

I'm sure you've all noticed that I've been on a bit of a Diddy Kong Racing kick this week, and I'm sure you're all sick of it. Well too bad, Cynthia (oh, I've also been obsessively watching Scrubs), because I've got at least one more DKR post in me before I move on to yammering about Super Mario Bros., as I've taken up Super Mario Land as the next title in my Everything I Own Challenge. Got to Easton Kingdom today before that blasted game over... anyways!

Yesterday/Last Night/This Morning I posted my review of Diddy Kong Racing and started rambling a bit when I got to the characters. Looks like I'm still motivated, because this is the post I said was going to happen! This is the post about who the hell actually owns the characters from Diddy Kong Racing. And maybe a few other games as well.

It's a hard knock life, for us.
It would seem pretty obvious: except for Diddy Kong, these guys are all owned by RareWare. That simple, that cut-and-dry, right? I mean, we haven't seen a single one of these characters outside of Diddy Kong Racing except for Banjo and Conker, and they are both clearly owned by RareWare. They even got their own games on X-Box when Microsoft purchased the development studio in 2002. So the rest of these characters should have been taken over, too. Right?

That's some really sound logic. Diddy and the other Kongs were clearly purchased by Nintendo before they sold off Rare, and it's likely that they also acquired the rights to Krunch considering he's a Kremling. But as for Bumper, Pipsy, Timber, and Tiptup? They're all obviously Rare characters at this point. That's why Tiptup was in Banjo-Kazooie.

You. You are at the heart of so much drama. Just... Just... Just go away.
If Tiptup was owned by Nintendo, they would have changed him in the XBLA ports of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, right? Just like how in Diddy Kong Racing DS Banjo and Conker were replaced by Tiny and Dixie. Except... Tiptup was in that game, too. Wasn't he? If he was owned by Rare, shouldn't he have been replaced by a Nintendo-owned character? Hell, they could have replaced him with the real Tiny Kong, and never redesign Tiny at all. Donkey Kong could have replaced Banjo as the heavy guy, and the game would have been three Kongs stronger and there wouldn't be any Tiny the Sex Appealing Gypsy.

Diddy Kong Racing DS actually confuses everything a whole lot more. For starters, they did decide to include Tiptup despite removing the Rare flagship mascots. Now, okay. Maybe this could be overlooked because Tiptup is really such a minor character in the Banjo-Kazooie games. That's plausible. But if Rare could freely use him willynilly, why hasn't he shown up in any of the other Banjo sequels when almost every other minor character has been reused?

Oh, maybe because Tiptup is a Nintendo character.

Another interesting thing about Diddy Kong Racing DS: Timber the Tiger no longer wears the Rare insignia on his cap. It's been replaced by the Nintendo DS logo. Interesting, isn't it?

And getting back to Banjo-Kazooie for a minute, Tiptup isn't the only character from a Kong-related game to show up. Gnawty, one of the basic enemies from almost every Donkey Kong game, and a well-known boss character, actually appears in the stage Click Clock Wood, where Banjo has to help him get back to his house under the frozen ice or something (my memory's a little foggy on that one.) This Gnawty is obviously the same Gnawty from the Donkey Kong games, right down to being purple. Gnawty is a character which was obviously bough by Nintendo during the Rare trade.

Gnawty wasn't removed from the XBLA version of the game. This would make him the only Nintendo-owned character to show up on the console. And also a source of extreme confusion, much like Tiptup. And it brings the Tiptup scenario into question. If Gnawty, a Nintendo-owned character, can appear in the XBLA ports, why would they take out Tiptup? Could Tiptup be Nintendo-owned as well? Why has Rare not reused any of these characters in newer games? This company is like the King of Cameos. Surely the only reason is that they can't.

So after all this, who owns the Diddy Kong Racing characters?

Well, to be honest...

I don't even think Nintendo or RareWare could answer that one.

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