When Rare was making Pro-Am Racing 64, they realized they would have to rebrand it as part of a well-established franchise to see commercial success. Having developed the Donkey Kong Country trilogy for the SNES, rebranding the game with Donkey Kong characters seemed like the obvious choice. But instead of the famous gorilla, they decided to make his sidekick, Diddy Kong, the star—and thus Diddy Kong Racing was born.

Surely making a game themed entirely around Donkey Kong would have shown stronger sales, but according to one of the artists behind the game, Nintendo was actually pleased that Rare chose the little chimp over Donkey Kong himself.

“Nintendo enjoyed the fact that we chose Diddy Kong over Donkey Kong; I think that it was us trying to build on the fact that Diddy was ours, and DK was theirs.” — Lee Musgrave

This makes sense enough, though ironically Rare lost everything they created for the Donkey Kong series when Microsoft bought them out just a few years later.

Source: Nintendo Life

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Colin McIsaac
I first played Donkey Kong Country before even turning three years old, and have since grown into an avid gamer and passionate Nintendo fan. I started working at Zelda Informer in August 2012, and helped found Gamnesia, which launched on February 1, 2013. Outside of the journalism game, I'm an invested musician who loves arranging music from video games and other media. If you care to follow my endeavors, you can check out my channel here: http://youtube.com/user/pokemoneinstein I was rummaging through some things a while back and found my first grade report card. My teacher said, "Oddly enough, Colin doesn't like to write unless it's about computers or computer-type games. In his journal he likes to write about what level he is on in 'Mario Land,' but he doesn't often write about much else." I was pretty amused, given where I am today. Also I have a dog, and he's a pretty cool guy. I don't care for elephants much. I suppose they're okay. You've read plenty now; carry on.

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