This is the game that reintroduced us to the main monkey himself, Donkey Kong
, and showed us what Rareware
could do with some ACM modeling
technology as well as proved to the world that one didn't need addons
to make gaming fun. In 1994 Nintendo
unleashed Donkey Kong Country
and the animation and gameplay blew most gamers away. With its simple hop and bop
gameplay, smooth character animation, and organic soundtrack, the game won numerous awards and helped Nintendo
win the 1994 Holiday Shopping Season
Players take control of Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong as they try and defeat King K. Rool and recover their stolen banana horde. Only one ape is playable at a time, and whichever one is not currently being controlled tags along behind the chosen ape. When the playable ape is hit, the backup ape assumes control.
While both apes control the same, they each play a little differently. Donkey Kong is the larger of the two and can therefore stomp larger enemies without being hurt. He can also pound the ground (Down+B) to reveal hidden items. He is the master of the roll attack, a maneuver that he uses to roll up and crash into enemies. Diddy Kong, on the other hand, is smaller and uses a cartwheel to crash into enemies. His small size means he can't defeat larger enemies, but he is slightly faster than Donkey Kong and can use his cartwheel to jump over large gaps. Also, being small he is a smaller target.
There are also several non-playable Kongs: Cranky Kong, the old video game veteran who dispenses advice; Funky Kong, who gives the Kongs rides in his barrel plane, and Candy Kong, Donkey Kong's sweetheart who saves the game.
In addition to the Kongs there are animal buddies that lend a hand from time to time: Rambi the rhino, Espresso the ostrich, Engarde the swordfish, and Winky the frog. The apes can ride these animals and use their special attacks against enemies. However, if they take a hit they buck their ape rider and run away in fear.
Barrels play a big part in the Donkey Kong universe. Just like in the arcade game of days passed, the apes can lift and throw barrels into enemies or walls to reveal secret rooms. There are also special barrels that free a trapped ape or mark the midway point of a level.
Speaking of levels, Donkey and Diddy will explore many different levels in their quest: 33 to be exact, along with 67 bonus rooms and 7 boss levels. The main worlds on Donkey Kong Island include...
The game includes a multiplayer mode where player 2 can either take control of the backup ape and play when player 1's ape is defeated or player 2 can have their own Donkey/Diddy team and alternate turns with player 1.
In the end Donkey Kong Country is a classic title that, in my opinion, every gamer should experience. While it doesn't have the polish that its sequels have, it's still an enjoyable game and stands quite well on its own merits. The game would go on to spawn the following sequels and spinoffs: Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie's Double Trouble, Donkey Kong Land, Donkey Kong Land 2, Donkey Kong Land 3, Donkey Kong 64, Diddy Kong Racing, a Game Boy Color port of the original game with some added fishing bonus games (released in 2000), and a 2003 Game Boy Advance port with all the bonuses of the Game Boy Color port plus some new minigames (such as a Control Pad-based Dance Dance Revolution-type game featuring Candy Kong) and the ability to save whenever you like. Also added to the port are a series of 52 hidden cameras that unlock character art when collected. Still, in my opinion the Super NES version of the game is the version to play.