Artwork of Taj from Diddy Kong Racing DS
|Full name||Taj the Genie|
Taj the Elephant
|First appearance||Diddy Kong Racing (1997)|
|Latest appearance||Diddy Kong Racing DS (2007)|
|Portrayed by||Lee Ray (1997)|
Taj is a blue elephant and a genie who lives on Timber's Island, and he mainly appears in Diddy Kong Racing, and its Nintendo DS remake, Diddy Kong Racing DS. Taj could have possibly been inspired from the real-world Indian elephant, considering his basis from Indian culture. His name may come from taj (تاج, from the Arabic word for "crown"), a brimless hat worn by people from Muslim countries. It may also be a reference to the Taj Mahal, a palace in India.
Diddy Kong Racing / Diddy Kong Racing DS
In Diddy Kong Racing, Taj's role is assisting Diddy Kong and his friends in banishing Wizpig from Timber's Island. In the opening, Taj begins by introducing himself as the "genie of the island". Taj is always seen walking around a grassy patch in the center of Timber's Island. The player can get his attention by either bumping into him or honking their horn nearby. By getting Taj's attention, he offers to change the player's current vehicle on Timber's Island, or to retry one of his vehicle challenges, which are unlocked later on. Taj offers to further assist the player after they have selected an option from his menu, and when the player exits the option menu, Taj says goodbye, vanishes in a puff of smoke, and returns to roaming the area. Taj gives the player a Golden Balloon whenever they clear a course, a Silver Coin Challenge, or one of his own vehicle challenges for the first time. Taj additionally gives the player a piece of the T.T. amulet if they complete a specific world challenge. Taj also provides a gameplay hint after the player has obtained the first two Wizpig amulet pieces, from Tricky and Bluey respectively. Taj uses a magic red carpet for transportation as well as in his vehicle races: the first race involves the player racing him while driving a Car; the second race involves them using a Hovercraft; and lastly, the third race involves the player using a Plane. In the first ending, Taj and T.T. congratulate the player after they beat Wizpig in the course Wizpig's First Strike. Following this, Taj and the playable characters all party in the beach portion of Timber's Island, only for Wizpig abruptly end it. In the second ending, after the player wins in Wizpig Strikes Back, Taj celebrates again, this time not only with the playable characters but also the four bosses. Additionally, the carving of Wizpig's head on the frontward mountain of Timber's Island is replaced with a gold replica of Taj's head. The game has an unused music file featuring a variation of the character select played on Indian instruments, suggesting that Taj was originally planned to appear as a playable character.
In Diddy Kong Racing DS, aside from his usual role, Taj was made a newly unlockable character, and to unlock him, the player has to complete the first Adventure Mode. As a playable character, Taj has maximum top speed, but minimal acceleration and turning; his stats are shared with Wizpig, another unlockable character who was not playable in the original game. If the player talks to Taj as the playable equivalent, Taj gets confused, believing that he is going crazy from talking to himself, but decides to offer assistance regardless. Both the playable and non-playable Taj had their accent changed to British. However, Taj has fewer dialogue, because he does not have lines when introducing himself at the start or when he awards a Golden Balloon to the player. Additionally, Taj also only allows the player to select one option before vanishing, no longer offering further assistance. Taj hosts two more challenges, one in which he and the player compete to obtain ten Taj Tokens, while the other involves the player having to blow out every torch on Timber's Island in under a minute. Taj additionally hosts the Wishes Menu, where the player can purchase unlockable features using Coins they had collected. In the ending cutscene, the replica of Taj's head on the mountain side now sports the same rocky texture.
Though Taj debuts in a game created by a Western game developer, he has appeared in some Japan-exclusive publications. In the Diddy Kong Racing story segment of Mario no Bōken Land, titled "Go Go Diddy!". He is shown competing in a race with various other racers, riding his carpet in fourth place. The race is interrupted when Wizpig appears, hurts Taj, and rips up his carpet, which strips Taj of his magical powers. Taj casts a spell to turn Mario, Princess Peach and Diddy Kong's cars into airplanes so they can follow Wizpig as he flies away. Diddy defeats Wizpig, and knocks a pile of rocks from a cliffside onto him. The racers award Diddy Kong with a crown for his heroic efforts, and declare him victor of the race; Taj can be seen celebrating this occasion. The last panel of the comic segment shows Taj telling Wizpig that he will help him out of the rock pile up, as long as he doesn't continue to do evil things. Taj also appears throughout the 4-koma Gag Battle manga adaptation of Diddy Kong Racing.
Taj's Diddy Kong Racing artwork is one of the character stamps in Mario Artist: Paint Studio.
Taj was set to reappear in the canceled Nintendo GameCube title, Donkey Kong Racing. At first, he is shown to be riding on a small red Rambi, then a later segment shows him and Donkey Kong racing on a Zinger through the forest. At the end of the trailer, the slogan "Let's Ride" displays, which Taj flies past on a Zinger.
Profile and statistics
Diddy Kong Racing
- Instruction booklet bio (page 26): "Evicted from his mountain home and cut off from his lamp, this ancient Genie isn’t exactly pleased with the despicable Wizpig. Now, he’s in a search of a champion racer to go up against the uninvited guest and hopefully teach him a lesson in manners!"
- Rarewhere: "This ancient Genie, traditional guardian of Timber's island, isn’t exactly pleased at being evicted from his mountain home. With Wizpig's magic keeping him cut off from his lamp and trapped in the outside world, Taj goes in search of a champion racer to challenge the uninvited guest and teach him a lesson in manners!"
Diddy Kong Racing DS
- Character stats
- Speed: 5/5
- Acceleration: 1/5
- Handling: 1/5
- For this subject's image gallery, see Gallery:Taj.
The canceled Donkey Kong Racing
Names in other languages
- Nintendo Power Volume 103, page 10.
- Twitter confirmation by former Rare employee Graeme Norgate