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Platform

SNES


Genre

Platformer


Developer

Rare


Publisher

Nintendo


Year released

1994

 

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Donkey Kong Country

 

donkey kong country classic review       donkey kong country classic review

 

With the recent news of Rare's purchase by Microsoft, fans have winced over the loss of their favorite gaming company of whom used to be Nintendo exclusive. Rare's games for the N64 literally made the console worth buying with treasures like Goldeneye, Banjo-Kazooie and Diddy Kong Racing, Rare became celebrated as one of the greatest game companies even past the death of the N64. However, it's SNES masterpieces are just as good, and often overlooked in favor of the more well known games, made by Rare when they hit the limelight.

Donkey Kong Country is one of these great SNES masterpieces - a beautiful game that pushed the SNES limits in graphics and redefined the platformer, Rare took the existing Donkey Kong license and gave it a whole new paint job. The storyline took place a decade or so after the original Donkey Kong, in which a Mario-lookin' character jumped over barrels to save a princess (who was later consistently in another castle) - the original Donkey Kong is now retired and old, called Cranky Kong, and it's Donkey Kong Junior who's taken the name with his pal Diddy Kong, who must chase after the evil King K. Rool to get all of his bananas back. Yes, the story isn't going to win any Oscars, but Rare knew this and filled it with self-satire - there's nare a scene with Cranky Kong where he doesn't yell abuse at the young apes, convinced that games were far better in his days, when gameplay was simple and they didn't need no fancy-pants graphics to appeal to the silly youngins of today.

 

Gameplay is the standard platformer fare - run from one side of the level to the other avoiding the obstacles - with lots of interesting and unique additions to breathe life into a dying genre. To begin with, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong must use teamwork throughout the game to get through some of the difficult obstacles they face. Each ape has his own strengths, like Donkey's powerful attacks and Diddy's great agility, and these must be used tactically to tackle the levels as best possible. To do this, you use one character at a time, picking either Diddy or Donkey, using them to jump and swing and climb, while the other one follows behind them. If the one being used is attacked, he'll be lost and you'll use the other until you can find a DK barrel and get the other character back. It's a simple but effective system. 

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Secondly, the variation of gameplay is spectacular - things range from the simple run-jump formula, to enormous swimming levels in amongst coves and coral, to levels in out-of-control mine carts which rush towards a nasty dead end. Supporting the large gameplay is the beautiful 3D graphics, of which render lovely landscapes of jungles, mountains, oceans and industrial areas in the best graphics a 16-bit console would ever see - that is, until the sequels.

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The enemies are mostly a combination of animals, like mean crocodiles and sharks, and Kremlings, large reptile monsters out to stop the monkey duo from reaching their goal. The enemies vary with the levels, and each world is complete with a boss at the end, a larger version of one of the enemies. My favorite of these is an enormous beaver (of which led to lots of inappropriate jokes involving sexual inuendo) called "Very Gnawty" - the bosses are a challenge at first, but are complete with attack patterns like the SNES/NES greats before proper gaming AI. The game offers a nice challenge for any gamer, providing an easy learning curve and levels that get gradually more difficult. Further to the gameplay are all the secret levels, of which there are hundreds - each level is full of several hidden barrels which fire Donkey or Diddy to a hidden area. Finding these builds up the percentage of the game complete on the title menu and makes for an extra challenge for the experienced gamer.

 

donkey kong country classic review       donkey kong country classic review

 

Donkey Kong Country stays close to it's roots, including all the good stuff - a variety of barrels, a cast of ape characters, neat gameplay, and useful battery backup to finish it all up. It's a fun game to play over again and reminisce, especially with the news of Rare. There were 2 sequels to this game on the SNES, as well as a Game Boy version and later, an N64 game (which wasn't half as fun as the original). DKC was released onto the Game Boy Color not too long ago and is essentially the same game, which is worth a pick up for anyone interested. This piece of nostalgia is definately recommended - take a stroll down memory lane and embrace your inner ape.

 

- Shocka
(24th October 2002)

 

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