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Donkey Kong 64



Everyone who has ever picked up a game control should know exactly who Donkey Kong is. He first appeared in Donkey Kong along with the world’s most famous plumber. Since then he’s made various digital appearances, including Mario Kart (N64) and Super Donkey Kong (SNES) and also spawned an animated television show. His latest incarnation continues the Donkey Kong mythos and delivers a very fun game.

K. Rool is back in business and getting ready to blast Kong Island right off the map. To top it off he’s stolen all the golden bananas and scattered them far and near in an effort to thwart any counterattack that the Kong’s can muster. It falls upon the shoulders of Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Chunky Kong, Lanky Kong and Tiny Kong (along with the help of a host of supporting characters, including Cranky and a top-heavy newcomer who at one point asks if you "want to have two melons.") to capture the bananas and defeat K. Rool. And so begins the fun in this epic-sized adventure. Players start off controlling Donkey Kong. Access to other characters as well more advanced moves become available as the game progresses. Learning new moves is executed the same way it is in Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie. Actually a lot of the moves will be familiar to those that have spent time with either game – they look similar and are performed the same way. There are a few notable exceptions beginning with the music abilities. The music abilities blast a shockwave of noise that will destroy nearby enemies. They can also be used on specific pads to open doors, etc. And on the subject of pads and switches – they’re all over the place! There are "banana warp" pads (5 points per level), music pads, coconut switches, peanut switches, feather switches, special barrels . . . the list goes on and on! (Heck you can even take on Rhino form and cause some major havoc!) Each of the switches (peanut, etc.) can only be activated by specific characters, adding another level of gameplay and exploration. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses – and knowing when to switch characters for particular situations is sometimes the key to success. To gain access to these other characters is simply a matter of freeing them (after finding them of course). For example, early in the game Diddy Kong must be freed from his prison by using Donkey’s coconut gun. Diddy Kong must be freed to explore other areas since his peanut gun is the only way to activate the necessary switches. Thankfully, the character switching is easy and finding the other characters is fairly straightforward.




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There are many hours of exploration available in DK64 due to the massive environments. The downside to such a large gaming world is that getting lost and wandering around wondering what the hell you should be doing is all too common. It doesn’t help that there isn’t any direction other than "Get the gold bananas." There’s no "game funnel", something that would direct your attention to do Step 1 then Step 2. (Like what is found in Mario 64 with the big locked door clearly visible in the foyer of the castle.) When a level is opened, a short 


cutscene shows a door opening or a boulder crumbling to reveal another area but it doesn’t show you where it is or how to get there. You can go pretty much anywhere you want so a map feature would have been welcomed with open arms. Thanks to the included RAM expansion pak, the graphics is DK64 are some of the best ever to grace the N64. Everything is bright and colourful (except the dungeons, of course) and foliage has never looked so good. The camera is along the lines of the Banjo-Kazooie games. It drifts more often though and repositioning is a constant necessity. Once you get used to it, it’s not much of a problem but until then expect to misjudge distances and fall. A lot. Music and sound is undeniably stamped "Rare." The music is good and adds to the experience of the game. Sound effects are good, especially Donkey Kong’s exclamation of "Banana!" DK64 also supports Dolby Surround. Crank the base!

Control is standard for a Rare game, which is to say that it’s excellent – for the most part. Executing moves is easy and response is very good. What gets in the way is the slightly drifting camera angle. Some of the "power-up" abilities – Diddy Kong’s jetpack for example – take a few tries to get used to. As mentioned above, many of the moves are executed the same way as in the Banjo-Kazooie games. I see this is a plus because you’re not forced to learn a different control scheme.

Overall, Donkey Kong 64 is one of those Rare games that will have you playing for many, many hours. Huge levels (plus/minus), many mini-games and sub-missions, familiar control scheme, good graphics and sound, included RAM expansion pak and Donkey Kong himself make DK64 a highly recommended game for N64 owners.

 - Omni

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