Donkey Kong Country was a game that always looked great to me, again being a Mega Drive owner. My brother never got it, so I was left with memories of seeing how “amazing the graphics were” when it was reviewed on Bad Influence (old British Gaming TV Show…) So once again, like a lot of these final reviews in the Smash marathon, it’s something I can’t talk about how I liked it back then, but I can tell you how it holds up now! Let’s find out…
DK Mows down crazy animals while riding a crazy animal… it’s only fair?
Donkey Kong Country was released worldwide in November 1994, though on different days (21st in the US, 24th in Europe, and then lastly (strangely enough) in Japan on the 26th). The game was a runaway smash hit and is the third biggest selling SNES game.
The game was actually made by Rare, with financial support from Nintendo and plenty of creative overlooking by DK creator Shigeru Miyamoto.
Diddy Kong looks thrilled at the prospect of a barrel… because he hasn’t seen enough of them yet, apparently!
While the main gameplay of DKC can be summed up as a side-scrolling platformer, there are quite a few unique elements to the game. Firstly you control both Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong, being able to switch between them to take advantage of DK’s enemy stopping power or Diddy’s speed and agility. If one Kong gets hit they’re gone until you collect a barrel bringing them back, meaning you essentially have two hits before you die on a level.
You defeat enemies by either jumping on them, rolling into them, or throwing a barrel at them, as well as other methods I’ll get to later. As you’d imagine there are a few boss fights sprinkled throughout the game, though sadly quite a few of them repeat twice…
There are lots of collectables sprinkled throughout the levels, from bananas which act like coins or rings in other popular platformers (collect 100 to get an extra life), there are also letters that spell out K-O-N-G and red balloons that will both also grant you extra lives. Barrels are also common, from reviving a fallen Kong as previously mentioned, they can also contain bananas, or be thrown at enemies or to reveal hidden rooms, and more significantly, can contain other animals…
Yes, another big feature are these animals, Rambi the Rhino, Expresso the Ostrich, Enguarde the Swordfish, Winky the Frog, and Squawks the Parrot, respectively. They offer advantages like being able to ram past most enemies, run and jump higher, swim and defeat water enemies easier, or light the way around dark areas.
Combine all this with barrels that can launch you from one side of the stage to the other, and eventually having to time barrel launches from one barrel to another moving one, and you’ve got a very unique and very fun platform game, and I haven’t even got to the graphical style yet…
Graphics and Sound:
That’s a lotta bananas alright!
The graphics properly blew me away at the time. They’re still 2D but they’re 3D rendered, which for the SNES was quite the feat seeing all these CG models running around, not to mention some of the layer effects like snow and rain. Now? It looks a bit rough, to say the least… it may be 2D versions of 3D renders, but like all early 3D graphics, it looks pretty bad now, unlike traditional 2D sprites. The actual character designs still have charm though!
The soundtrack is really good too, lots of memorable tunes that don’t just sound “jungle-y”, though again I’m often more familiar with the Smash remixes… stupid Mega Drive owning me! Soundeffects are fine as well…
“This is the only barrel with have to break in this journey though, right DK?” “Erm…”
Donkey Kong leaves Diddy Kong in change of his banana stockpile while he goes to sleep for a while, promising to swap with him at midnight. When DK wakes up he realises it’s morning, Diddy has been sealed in a barrel, and the entire banana hoard has been stolen by King K. Rool and his Kremlings. DK and Diddy team up and follow the trail of bananas left behind and eventually defeat K. Rool… and save the bananas, I guess?
Coming soon to a Smash Ultimate battle near you!
This is another game like Yoshi’s Island and Super Metroid that I (naughtily) played as soon as I got into emulators in my early 20s, having missed out on them the first time round. It didn’t disappoint, even if the graphics now looked ropey compared to my childhood eyes, playing it now in 2018 I can confirm it’s still a really good platformer. Yeah, again, the graphics leave a lot to be desired when compared to Mario World or Super Metroid that use sprites, but it’s still a solid game (though I think DKC 2 is the best of the three, from what little I’ve played of 3, admittedly).