Released in 1999 just in time for the holiday shopping season, Nintendo
had high hopes for Donkey Kong
's premiere on the Nintendo 64
. Programmed and designed by Rareware
, one of the world's top game developers at the time, fans were clamoring for the game which was a 3D update of the original Donkey Kong Country
games for the Super NES
. DK64 pushed the limits of the N64
console and dazzled gamers all at once. Plus it was a stylish banana
The game required the then-new Expansion Pak (which, thankfully, came included with the game). The Pak plugged into the front of the N64 and added four more megabytes of RAM to the machine. This allowed DK64 to feature realistic shadows and lightsourcing, large worlds to explore, none of the infamous fog that typically appeared in 3D games, and gigantic bosses to battle.
The plot of the game follows in the tradition of past Donkey Kong Country games. King K. Rool has sailed his giant destroyer up to the coast of Donkey Kong Island with the intent of blowing it off the face of the Earth. He's captured Donkey Kong's gorilla friends - Diddy Kong, Tiny Kong, Lanky Kong, and Chunky Kong - and imprisoned them in various levels on the island. When DK realizes what's up, he goes to rescue them and defeat K. Rool once and for all.
How will Donkey Kong save the day? By collecting Golden Bananas. Reminiscent of the Power Stars in Super Mario 64, Golden Bananas allow the Kongs to open up new worlds. At the entry of each level is a slot machine by the name of B. Locker who demands to see a certain amount of Golden Bananas before he'll move out of the way and let you pass. As the levels progress, B. Locker demands to see more and more of the yellow fruit. These Golden Bananas are hidden almost everywhere and the Kongs must accomplish tasks to earn them, such as running a race, opening a gate, or beating a boss.
Each of the Kongs has special abilities that make finding certain Golden Bananas easily suited to them. Let's meet the monkeys, shall we?
Also returning from past games are...
- Cranky Kong - The original Donkey Kong from the arcades. This time around Cranky sells potions to the Kongs in exchange for banana coins. He also has some vintage arcade games locked away. Maybe he'll offer you a play or two?
- Candy Kong - DK's sweetheart. She's a master of music and teaches the Kongs to play instruments which can open secret passages and wipe out the Kremlings.
- Funky Kong - The munitions master! Funky provides training with the fruity weapons the Kongs will need to make progress.
Most of the gameplay is spent tracking down Golden Bananas, bashing Kremling baddies, solving puzzles, and backtracking through past levels with new abilities to start the cycle all over again. Cranky Kong provides training with new abilities (if you can find him) and players can switch to other Kongs by jumping into a Swap Barrel. During your travels keep an eye out for Banana Fairies. If you can take a picture of enough of them, something good is bound to happen.
The game is centered on Donkey Kong Island which contains several levels...
- Jungle Japes - The first level (and the easiest). Set in the jungle, naturally. You'll find Diddy Kong locked away here.
- Angry Aztec - What's a desert doing on the island? Watch out for the quicksand and see if you can find Tiny Kong.
- Frantic Factory - Industrial pollution at its worst! There's some nostalgia in the employee lounge in the form of the classic Donkey Kong arcade game. Drop in a banana coin and have a play - the whole game is there in its original form! Chunky Kong needs your help elsewhere in the level.
- Gloomy Galleon - Let's visit King K. Rool's realm where there's peril at every turn. Watch out for Kremlings!
- Fungi Forest - Day and Night rule the world here, as do giant mushrooms. The central clock is the key to everything here. Check out the minecart ride while you're here.
- Crystal Caves - The ice level, complete with slipping and sliding. Get ready to go for a swim while you're here, too.
- Creepy Castle - It was a dark and stormy night... I hope you're not afraid of heights.
- Hideout Helm - King K. Rool's gotta be around here somewhere. Shut down the reactor and let's track him down!
The game takes many hours of work and exploration to complete, but I think you'll find it's a pleasing adventure sure to test your monkey mettle. You'll go ape over Donkey Kong 64!