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Character Chronicle: Bumper

As I said last time, I wanted a quick breather this month. You know, a more obscure character, someone harboring a more succinct, less celebrated existence. While there were a few options under consideration, a certain collaborative project inspired me to bump Diddy Kong Racing’s Bumper to the front of the waiting list.

However, I first need to thank everyone who crossed the finish line with me:

  • TheAnvil, my good friend and fellow Kong documentarian, for offering commentary and helping with edits.
  • Wolfman_J and Voyager, two of our talented teammates, who also looked over the piece and offered support. 
Bumper as seen in Diddy Kong Racing DS. (Image: Rare)

Bumper as seen in Diddy Kong Racing DS. (Image: Rare)

Diddy Kong Racing introduced a plethora of colorful, prospective mascots in 1997, three of whom proceeded to live rewarding, celebrated lives. However, most of Diddy Kong’s social circle faded into obscurity, never becoming fixtures within Rare’s ensemble.

One of those underappreciated racers happens to be our favorite heavy-weight badger…

Bumper’s History

We’ve covered Diddy Kong Racing’s unique development history twice already, but it bears repeating that the game wasn’t conceived as a spin-off to the Nintendo-owned Donkey Kong license. However, Rare always planned to populate the racer with a plethora of anthropomorphic animals, including Bumper. As an aside, the internet is rampart with musings that Timber was planned to star in a marquee Nintendo 64 game with Pipsy and Bumper in supporting roles, but former Rare employees Martin Wakeley and Lee Musgrave have affirmed those claims are unfounded.

Diddy Kong, Bumper and Tiptup in Diddy Kong Racing

He probably already dropped to eighth place, but I’m rooting for Krunch. (Image: Nintendo/Rare)

Thus, 1997’s Diddy Kong Racing remains the badger’s biggest appearance. Its manual explains how Bumper, unlike most of his kin, relishes in speed and adventure. So, when the foul Wizpig endangers the normally serene Timber’s Island, he’s eager to become the racing champion Taj sought. During the game’s ending, Bumper happily parties with his friends, celebrating the successful purging of the hog’s influence from the racetrack-saturated islet. A decade later, Bumper reprised his role for Diddy Kong Racing DS. Arguably set a decade after the original, Bumper’s portly figure remained intact.

Sadly, like the majority of Diddy Kong Racing’s cast, Bumper’s career never took off. He was absent from the illfated Diddy Kong Pilot, nor did he seem slated for the even less fortunate Donkey Kong Racing or The Fast & Furriest. Climax Studios’ Diddy Kong Racing Adventure initially intended to bring in many Racing returnees, with dark doublegangers – including a Dark Bumper – operating as their rivals. However, had it been greenlit by Nintendo, Adventure would’ve housed a far more Donkey Kong-centric lineup; Rare’s Leigh Loveday testified to how Rare retained ownership of Diddy Kong Racing‘s roster barring the Kongs and Krunch. (Amusingly, Loveday was also relieved he could still helm the M-rated Bumper prequel he envisioned.)

However, unlike the majority of Diddy Kong Racing’s cast, Bumper’s escapades did continue past his Nintendo 64 debut, albeit off-screen. Conker, in his 2004 written forward commemorating the then-new Conker: Live & Reloaded, made a passing remark that implied one of his former associates “was in jail.” Loveday, a man whose authority I defer to, confirmed in 2012 that it was Bumper, and the veteran Rare figurehead was asked later that year to clarify Bumper’s situation. As it turns out, Bumper was imprisoned partially because he’s “so far down the list of old Rare characters in with a chance of a spectacular comeback.” It also “sounded funny” and functioned as a callback to Bumper’s dubious butt-slapping animation in Diddy Kong Racing’s character select screen.

Diddy Kong, Bumper and Tiptup in Diddy Kong Racing DS

Bumper reunited with his old gang in 2007 to stop the resurgent Wizpig. (Image: Nintendo/Rare)

Bumper’s predicament even caused some friction to arise behind the scenes here at Source Gaming between TheAnvil and myself; whereas he diligently places his faith in Bumper’s innocence, I trust the legal proceedings that indicted him. Loveday himself even chimed in during one of our conversations, affirming justice was served.

So, what does this all mean for Bumper’s future? Well, Loveday’s insight on the matter seems accurate; he doesn’t have much of one. Nonetheless, the endearing “furry maniac” lives on in our hearts…

So, what’re my thoughts on Bumper?

While I liked him decently enough, Bumper failed to catch my attention in Diddy Kong Racing. Not that I had anything against him, he merely blended in with his cohorts, being one face in a colorful roster hosting other characters whose aesthetics appealed to me more. However, if we were judging Bumper purley from his two in-game appearances, his ho-hum resumé doesn’t offer much worth discussing.

But, thankfully, that’s not all Bumper has to his credit. When I was a kid, I occasionally wondered what my favorite video game protagonists were doing on their days off, periods when they weren’t encumbered with a perilous adventure. Did Mario and Luigi lounge around their humble cottage all day? Was Sonic roaming the globe, taking in the wonderful sights? Was Kirby really doing his taxes?

Diddy Kong, Tiny Kong, Bumper and Tiptup in Diddy Kong Racing DS

Diddy Kong Racing DS launched eleven years ago to this day. Incidentally, it’s the last time Bumper was able to savor freedom with his friends. (Image: Nintendo/Rare)

Rare explored this concept through Diddy Kong Racing‘s manual, explaining how Diddy’s friendship with Conker and Banjo was forged during his off-screen escapades. Bumper, likewise, later embarked upon his own off-camera misadventures. When I read Conker’s public address, I was amused by the startling revelation, pondering over the culprit’s identity. I, using my intuition, figured there was always something suspicious about Bumper, and I laughed when my hunch was proven correct.

Dedicated fans of Rare’s work are presumably familiar with Mr. Pants and Roysten, two characters known for cameoing across numerous titles. I’d like Bumper to be admitted into their stratum, offering another in-joke to those of us who’re aware of and care about Rare’s bizarre continuity. In an upcoming game, perhaps Sea of Thieves, I want to discover a jail cell in some remote corner of the world, and I want to see a dark-furred badger trapped therein. Afterwards, future titles could expand on Bumper’s saga, perhaps implying he escaped by adorning wanted posters in a town somewhere. Naturally, this will lead into a narrative-focused title starring a hardened, emotionally battered Bumper who’ll be forced to come to terms with his past transgressions and re-adjust back into society.

I don’t expect any of that to happen, however, and I’m content with Bumper’s conviction remaining the amusing footnote it currently exists as. But, regardless of whether he’s guilty or not, the nature of Bumper’s criminal record will continue to keep his character alive, even if he never physically appears again.

Congratulations, Bumper! #GuiltyBadger

Diddy Kong, Tiptup, Timber, Bumper and Smokey in Diddy Kong Racing

You may not place first in this race, Bumper, but you’ve earned a spot in my heart. You’re still a winner! (Image: Nintendo/Rare)

We’re going to keep talking about talking animals next month. In fact, it’ll even double as a return to the Super Smash Bros. family! I’d better hit the dojo…

Star Fox: Assault Star Wolf

Just what I need to see…

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Cart Boy

Cart Boy wants to be the very best. Like no one ever was. He also occasionally contributes an article here when the stars align properly, and he helps out with editing and Source Gaming’s Facebook page.
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  1. Now this is another character that I don’t really remember that much. But I can blame myself that I wasn’t the fan of the game due to many reasons that I have expressed before. But getting caught and imprisoned? Why? What did he do to deserve such thing? And this is something nobody even explained or answered about his statement, and it does feel uneasy how he’s mistreated to end up in a bad situation. In my case, I really don’t feel very impressed when you see certain characters to take a bad ending route, which they’d stay unhappy or the worse, ultimately dead. While I could understand not anybody could have a good/happy ending, I do see how the system work seems unfair. Even for that character I like which I wish for them to survive, ending up dying without mercy. But that’s just my opinion, so anybody can have a different perspective when viewing characters.

    I do have this feeling of what the characters were doing outside of the game when I was a child, and that wondering still exists inside of me. For example, what was Frank West doing during the events of Dead Rising 3? How’s Ness and Paula doing after the events of Earthbound? What is Krystal doing if she was in Star Fox Zero? Answered were never pulled out since then, but it was fun to imagine and wonder at the same time. Well, if this was Wreck-It Ralph, I think all the characters, heroes to villains, are enjoying their time to each other like going to the bar while the player’s gone.

    Sorry, there’s nothing much to say about this character. I could’ve ignored and moved on, but I couldn’t as I really wanted to comment it with my own opinion. As I say, I may not know much about him, but at least I was able to learn what he is and what happened to him. Although his statement is unknown as nobody will explain why, I just hope if there’s a chance for such poor guy to return in action. Nintendo bought their license, and they REALLY need to bring them back on stage with responsibility, because they shouldn’t stay in the oblivion once they’re bought.

    And speaking of Frank West on the second paragraph, I don’t know if you have noticed, but I wrote a comment regarding to him in the previous article. Sorry for the late comment, I’m really busy cleaning up the house due to moving to Japan, so I could hardly post comments like I did before. But I’m trying to post comments as much faster I can before they close it, so while there may be some parts I have missed out, I’ll be continuing to see many articles and comment if I have a chance.

    Anyways, this was an interesting topic you’ve brought out, and will be looking forward for Wolf’s entry!

    zoniken on February 16 |
    • Ha, yeah, Bumper’s a character few will know of off-hand. Same for most of the characters in Diddy Kong Racing, sadly. Bumper’s definitely not a character you’re likely to find an article on – just like with Krunch, I probably wrote the most elaborate article ever written about Bumper – but I like the badger’s little mischievous backstory and that makes him interesting to me.

      Bumper’s imprisonment is basically just a running gag, you don’t necessarily have to consider it canon. I personally do because I find it funny, and because I like knowing that his life continued past Diddy Kong Racing. Bumper was still around, albeit off-screen, going about his days when he got into trouble for his suggestive idle animation, I guess! Conversely, I don’t think TheAnvil considers it canon, which leads into the totally serious friction that exists between us.

      Regarding Krystal, her planet was mentioned in Star Fox Zero‘s animated promo video and there was interest in bringing her back in a sequel to Zero. I imagine she still exists somewhere in Zero‘s reboot. Regardless, it’s fun to think about these things. I remember liking Banjo-Tooie‘s opening, with Banjo and Kazooie casually playing poker with Mumbo and Bottles, and I liked how the pair where hanging out in the intro to Nuts & Bolts. I like seeing glimpses of what my favorite characters do when they’re not on adventures.

      Rare retained most of the Diddy Kong Racing crew. Barring Banjo and Conker, both of whom are potential brand names for Microsoft and therefore will always be around in some capacity, I’m not exactly optimistic that any of Diddy’s old racing buddies will return. However, I am slightly more optimistic than I used to be. Rare’s Gregg Mayles tweeted out a curious image of a low-poly T.T., Diddy Kong Racing‘s clock guardian, on the 20th anniversary of the game. What makes this curious, however, is the fact that he’s in a Sea of Thieves location. Is it an early tease of a T.T. cameo in the game?

      …Probably not, Gregg probably just wanted to tweet a cute thing in honor of Diddy Kong Racing‘s 20th, but it’s still neat to know that they have a model of T.T. around for testing purposes. Between that, The Fast & The Furriest, and another tweet that mentioned Wizpig, we know people at Rare still remember the Diddy Kong Racing cast. So there’s always a chance, as slim as it is, Bumper and the others could show up again someday.

      And I apologize for the late response on NCA: Frank West. I wish you a lot of luck in your move to Japan! You must be excited, hmm? When did you decide to move?

      And thanks, I’ll see you next time… in space! I haven’t gotten to start the piece yet, but I should have the time to start very soon. I’m currently deciding if I should hunt down a copy of Assault or if I should just watch a Let’s Play of it instead. Either way, I need a refresher on that game…

      Cart Boy on February 16 |