In 1994 Sega and Nintendo were really really competing in the gaming industry. Sega had games that were top of the line. So did Nintendo. Yet there was one game that came out and shattered the competition on both sides. At least to one degree. Donkey Kong Country. When it came out the gaming world was completely unaware just how powerful the Super Nintendo really was. Whether or not the Super Nintendo was more powerful than the Sega Genesis doesn't really matter. What matters is that the Super Nintendo proved it could be a powerhouse. It wasn't just graphics that was so appealing about Donkey Kong Country. It was mostly just a well designed game.
In the Super Nintendo era, playing a game like Donkey Kong Country was like lighting a match and dropping it in gasoline... you just didn't do it. Story was never a strong suit in Donkey Kong Country at all. In the SNES era Nintendo was primarily about gameplay more so than plot. The big story about Donkey Kong Country is that the Kong Family Bananas are missing. Stolen by that dastardly King K. Rool. Donkey sets out with his pal Diddy to find the missing bananas. Their adventure will take them all over the land. From the Kongo Jungle to the mines and forests and the snowy mountains. All on a quest to find their stolen bananas until they come face to face with King K. Rool himself.
For the most part, playing Donkey Kong Country is a lot like playing Mario with differences thrown in from time to time. The platforming is almost exactly the same. Except you jump on tree tops instead of generic platforms. Mario still makes for a better game because there's so much more, but Donkey Kong Country most certainly makes for an amusing adventure.
The game consists of six worlds. Each with their own set of levels. Donkey Kong Country is pretty straightforward. You begin each level at the beginning and cross it looking for the exit. Along the way there are hidden bonus rooms in almost every level, along with trails of bananas that act just like coins in Super Mario. Likewise, there are four letters. K-O-N-G. Find them all and you get an extra life.
All this seems random. And much of it is. Aside from bragging rights there's no real treat to finding every bonus room in the game. Which is perhaps the only real letdown that Donkey Kong Country has. The game tracks your percentage at finding everything throughout your travels. With 101% being as high as it goes. Finding the bonus rooms will increase it, as well as completing levels. The only thing is, like I said, there isn't really much to going to all these different bonus rooms. The later two Donkey Kong Country games would give the player more purpose and motivation to find all the bonus rooms. The first one? Not so much. It can be fun to find them all, though. It doesn't really detract from the game. The only thing about the bonus rooms that might be off putting is that the variety isn't really that fun. It's not about the objective being the same... but that the maps for each bonus room are repeated constantly.
On the other hand, Donkey Kong Country has a few things which separate it from Mario. The first is animal buddies. Mario has Yoshi, but Donkey Kong has a whole slew that can be used to access secrets in levels. There's Rambi, the Rhino. Enguarde the Swordfish. Expresso the Ostrich. Winky the frog. And finally, Squawks the Parrot. Each with their own uses to help you find other bonus rooms or simply help you out.
The production values are where Donkey Kong Country are done so well. It was the first game to actually utilize 3D rendering. At least of the two mainstream consoles of the time. The Genesis, we later found out, couldn't do it. This is because Rare (the developers) spent a pretty penny to make sure they could. The technology they used at the time was pretty darn new. Simply put, when Donkey Kong Country came out... it was the most gorgeous looking game you could find at the time. The details speak for themselves. You can notice the trees rustling... the backgrounds are some of the prettiest you could find... and even the character models themselves were rendered in 3D. Nintendo themselves were pretty proud of what they had. They even boasted, stating that you wouldn't find those graphics on the Sega Genesis... they were right. Despite that the Genesis was able to render more colors, Donkey Kong Country was using unique technology that the Genesis just didn't have at the time (though it would be technology it utilized later).
Even better is the soundtrack. The sound effects were amazing, but the soundtrack still sounds phenomenal even to this day. The instruments aren't tinny or midi files. They're actually real instruments that are being played smoothly in the background.
If anything the only real problem with Donkey Kong Country is that when playing there can sometimes be a sense of emptiness as to what you're doing. Not that the adventure isn't fun enough, but mostly that the adventure feels like it's lacking a lot of action and adventure sometimes. It may because some of the levels aren't as awesome as others. There are a few unique levels, though. In one level your vision begins to get blurred by a blizzard. in another you're running through a power plant as the light go out at specific intervals. These things make the game fun. But other times it can feel like the levels are longer than they have to be. And some can feel empty. The later two games were quite the improvement. That doesn't make Donkey Kong Country any less impressive. It only means that once you get over the initial eye candy, you have to accept that while Donkey Kong Country is a very well designed game... it is still outdone by games like Super Mario World or it's sequel: Donkey Kong Country 2. Because they happen to be better designed.
For gamers, Donkey Kong Country is a must play. It's one of those games that may not be as dynamic now as it was then, but for history's sake it's worth playing for the sake of understanding just how far we've come in gaming. Donkey Kong Country is hardly the best of the trilogy but it's still an immensely good game.
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Manufacturer Description Donkey Kong is back with a new sidekick Diddy Kong in a crazy island adventure! Challenged by the crazed tribe of reptilian Kremlings they endeavor to get back their stolen banana horde! Armed with lightning-quick moves chest pounding muscle and awesome aerial acrobatics our duo is ready to face their cunning adversaries. With the help of Donkey Kong's quirky family and his wild animal mounts they squabble and scamper their way through unending monkey mayhem!