In a lot of ways, this review relates to my first experience with video games. This when I would have been about oh.. 3 years of age, and that was with one of these;
And I was in love with the game straight away. When I turned 4, my mum took me to a Timezone video arcade near the Town Hall train station in Sydney, and I instantly noticed the Donkey Kong arcade machine there. Now I was lucky as I wasn’t one of those kids that would sit in front of an arcade machine whilst a demo is running, no, I managed to play it.. Quite badly as well mind you (gee thanks mum).
*But I call it fate, to go down the path of gaming geekdom, those games were the gateway. I mean look at the initials of the character, They’re MY initials!!
So time has evolved, moved interstate, more consoles and games have come and gone in my life over the years. I luckily went down the path of the SNES during the 16bit console wars, and that was the greatest era of gaming for me. This was the era of gaming where it was still cool to go to the video arcades and play games there frequently and then coming home to play them more.
One afternoon after getting psyched over finishing Mortal Kombat 2 in the arcades at a lock-in, we went for a cruise to town, I wandered into a John Martins store (to those who don’t live in Adelaide, John Martins used to be a franchise of department stores), and saw cardboard cut-outs and promo videos of this new game, with that infamous gorilla. Well technically the infamous gorilla’s son, and this:
See, the ads back in the day were quite vicious against other consoles, not like how it is now. So I knew there and then that I HAD to own that game. AU$110 later at release date (around November/December 1994 from memory) it was mine. Now that I have a SNES back, I decided I had to own Donkey Kong Country again, that way I can review it for you guys and gals! Luckily I recently managed to score a copy of Donkey Kong Country from Gametraders Marion!!
For those who don’t know, Donkey Kong Country is one of the first SNES titles to utilise the same style graphics as used in Killer Instinct, thanks to Silicon Graphics. And for a SNES game, it was visually breathtaking. One of the best graphics I’ve ever seen on the console, considering how much power it had behind it, which wasn’t too much.
The storyline, is that your huge stash of bananas was stolen by King K Rool and his band of Kremlings, you and your cousin Diddy Kong, must venture through Donkey Kong Country to retrieve your stash.
Every world you travel through, there’s an end boss you must defeat, mainly over-sized animals, except one of the worlds which is a dark, dank and dystopic part of the island which was taken over by factories, in this case you must fight an oil drum… That’s right, an oil drum..
Along the way you have other characters from the Kong family to help out, like Candy Kong which lets you save your progress, and Funky Kong which will let you fly to any part of the world already covered, which is beneficial for getting more 1ups and relocating bonus rooms which were not found before. It took a while to realise how I could tell if I found all the secrets of each level, then noticed something next to the names of every level. The exclamation mark!
Some levels which are on rails (excuse the pun) don’t have any secrets, which will then automatically give you the exclamation mark upon completion, but the bonus rooms, get more and more challenging as you progress through the game.
As well as Candy and Funky Kong helping out, you also have help from some animals, each with an ability to swim faster (swordfish), fly and jump higher (ostrich and frog), or run through enemies and find secrets in walls (rhino).
Gameplay, well, it is short, but fun! You can either play as Donkey or Diddy, or both, and the characters have distinct pros and cons. Donkey is slower, but stronger, and Diddy is more athletic but weaker. At times there has been frustrating, controller-ditching moments throughout the game (warning in advance: The snow and cave worlds I found to be the most challenging), as there are a lot of precise barrel-blasting to be done in momentum.
Soundtrack to the game is absolutely superb, with atmosphere put in to every track for the appropriate level. My favourite has to be the piece done for the underwater levels. I was told that there was a limited edition Donkey Kong Country release which came with the DK Jamz CD. Composed by Robin Beanland, Eveline Fischer and David Wise.
(Quote taken from Wikipedia’s article on Donkey Kong Country)
Nintendo producer Shigeru Miyamoto criticised Donkey Kong Country, stating that “Donkey Kong Country proves that players will put up with mediocre gameplay as long as the art is good.” Miyamoto later apologised, saying he had been harsh due to Nintendo pressuring him at the time to make Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island similar to Donkey Kong Country.
Quite interesting for that to come from the creator of Donkey Kong, and Mario, although that was where a dark side of gaming brewed, where graphics superseded gameplay.
With all that said, overall, Donkey Kong Country is quite short but very very sweet, with amazing graphics, an astounding soundtrack, and decent gameplay, considering how challenging and hair-ripping it can be in many moments. I was able to complete the game in two and a half hours. Although the game apparently could be finished completely in under an hour including finding the bonus rooms. So another challenge awaits for me, and hopefully it is a challenge for you as well. So do I recommend this title? You bet your ass I do!
– Amazing Graphics and Sound
– Extremely challenging moments in game replay value to find secret rooms
– Too frustrating at times