Donkey Kong 64
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|Donkey Kong 64|
North American box art
Donkey Kong 64 (ドンキーコング64 Donkī Kongu Rokujūyon ) is a platform game developed by Rare and published as a first-party title for the Nintendo 64 console. Initially released on 24 November 1999 in North America, it subsequently came out in Europe on December 6 and Japan on December 10 of the same year. The game is a follow-up to the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Many of the levels are based on levels from the original three Donkey Kong Country games, such as the mine carts and the bonus stages. Donkey Kong 64 follows the adventures of Donkey Kong and four of his simian relatives as they try to win back their hoard of Golden Bananas and banish King K. Rool. Players can control all five Kongs in eight individual levels as well as a greater world map, a multiplayer mode, and several minigames.
Donkey Kong 64 was one of only two Nintendo 64 games to require the Expansion Pak (the other being The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, although the gameplay for Perfect Dark is also significantly limited without one), which provides 4 MB more RAM for enhanced graphics and more expansive environments. The game was well received by critics upon release, and went on to become a Player's Choice title. Donkey Kong 64 is the only game in the franchise that has yet to be made available on the Wii Virtual Console, despite the fact that Nintendo retains full rights to the game as their intellectual property.
The game is a 3D adventure with strong platforming links, similar to that of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie. There are a total of five playable Kongs, each with unique and upgradeable abilities. The player starts out with access to Donkey Kong only, then goes on to unlock each of the other four Kongs as part of the gameplay (in the order of Diddy, Lanky or Tiny, and then Chunky). Unlocking all 4 Kongs (bringing the total to 5) is necessary to defeat character-specific bosses in each level. There are a total of 7 areas (subtracting the DK Isles, the overworld for the game and Hideout Helm): Jungle Japes, Angry Aztec, Frantic Factory, Gloomy Galleon, Fungi Forest, Crystal Caves, and Creepy Castle. Each new Kong that is freed can be accessed as playable through tag barrels that are scattered throughout each world. Additionally, each Kong is represented by a color which works alongside the game's unique collecting system where objects such as bananas and coins can only be collected by the Kong whose color corresponds to the color of that object. The colors are as follows: Yellow for Donkey Kong, Red for Diddy, Purple for Tiny, Blue for Lanky, and Green for Chunky.
Each playable Kong has several different collectables within the game. First and foremost are the Golden Bananas. There are five Golden Bananas per Kong in every level that only that specific character can get. One Golden Banana per Kong per level can be collected by delivering the color-appropriate blueprint to Snide after getting them from the Krushas. The Golden Bananas are used as payment to get past B. Locker, who guards the entrance to every new level.
Each character can also find 100 color-appropriate bananas per level—single bananas, bunches of 5, or balloons to be popped that are worth 10. The regular bananas are necessary to unlock boss fights and acquire Boss Keys. There are eight boss keys in all (though seven of the eight are actually obtained via defeating the area's boss). In turn, Boss Keys are used to free K.Lumsy, who, in his excitement, unlocks new levels to be completed.
A third important thing to collect is character-specific colored coins. With these coins, each Kong is allowed to buy essential combat items: Cranky Kong's special ability potions, Funky Kong's guns, and Candy Kong's musical instruments (as well as upgrades of the same). All of these skills and supplies are necessary to complete the game, either just by killing enemies or because of specific pads and switches that needed to be activated.
Two single items of grave importance later in the game are the Nintendo and Rare(ware) Coins, that can be obtained in classic games in the game. 15 Banana Medals, which are obtained when a Kong gathers 75 of the 100 regular bananas each can get, are required for the player to play Jetpac to get the Rareware Coin. The Nintendo Coin can only be found in the game's third area, Frantic Factory, with Donkey Kong, by playing the original Donkey Kong arcade game and winning twice (first for the Golden Banana, and second for the Nintendo Coin).
Other items to be collected are ammunition for guns, orange grenades (a self-explanatory item usable by all five Kongs), crystal coconuts used to fuel Cranky's special abilities, film for taking banana fairy pictures, and headphones scattered in each level to restore the instruments' powers that Candy gives each Kong.
Multiplayer can be played by up to four players at one time. It features three basic arenas, one special arena, and six gameplay modes. The five playable characters from the single player adventure are used in the multiplayer mode, along with a secret character, Krusha. If only two players play in the special arena, random baddies will spawn to make the game more difficult.
King K. Rool wanted to destroy DK Isles with a large laser called the Blast-O-Matic, but it malfunctions after a crash that puts his floating, mechanical hind face-to-face with DK Isles. To buy some time, he captures Donkey Kong's friends and locks them up, and then steals Donkey Kong's precious hoard of Golden Bananas. As Donkey Kong frees his fellow apes, they set off to recover the bananas and defeat King K. Rool, his army of Kremlings and other evil creatures.
- Donkey Kong, the titular character and the first playable character in the game, is a large, muscular Mountain Gorilla who wears a red monogrammed necktie. His weapon of choice is the "Coconut Shooter" (a rifle that shoots coconuts), and his instrumental attack is the "Bongo Blast".
- Diddy Kong, who debuted in Donkey Kong Country, is a monkey in a red baseball cap and sleevless T-shirt, then later bearing a yellow star on the back. He is the dedicated partner of Donkey Kong. His weapons are the "Peanut Popguns" (two pistols that fire peanuts). His instrument is a guitar (bearing the same star as on his shirt) with the deafening attack "Guitar Gazump". He is the fastest of the Kongs and jumps the highest.
- Lanky Kong, a newcomer in the Donkey Kong series, is a Sumatran orangutan whose long arms allow him to handstand. He can also inflate himself to float. His weapon of choice is the "Grape Shooter" (similar to a blowgun). His instrument is the trombone, and his move is the "Trombone Tremor". He has the most balanced stats out of the five playable Kongs. Official materials describe him as an honorary Kong.
- Tiny Kong is a chimpanzee and younger sister of Dixie Kong from the Donkey Kong Country games. Like her sister, her pigtails allow her temporarily to float through the air. Unique to Tiny is the ability to shrink in size to fit into places the other Kongs cannot reach. Her weapon is a "Feather Bow" (a crossbow that fires sharp feathers). Her instrumental attack is the "Saxophone Slam". She is very fast and jumps high, but has the weakest physical attacks.
- Chunky Kong, the older brother of Kiddy Kong and cousin to Tiny Kong, is a strong yet cowardly Eastern Lowland Gorilla who can lift heavy objects but (as explained in the theme song) is slow and unable to jump high. His weapon is a "Pineapple Launcher", which is the most powerful gun in the game. Appropriate to Chunky's "gentle giant" demeanor, his instrumental attack is the "Triangle Trample".
Other characters include Cranky Kong, who sells the Kongs various new moves via his potions; Funky Kong, who sells them guns; Snide the weasel, who had formerly been King K. Rool's henchman before he was fired and thus collects blueprints for the Kongs; and Candy Kong, who supplies the Kongs with musical instruments. Some other notable characters are K. Lumsy, who opens up levels, and Squawks, who points things out, brings the player Golden Bananas when his attention is attracted, and can carry Tiny to new heights. There is also a Banana Fairy Queen, who requests that the Kongs rescue her citizens and, in exchange, teaches the Kongs an invincible technique. Collecting Banana Fairies unlocks many new options outside of single-player mode, including cheats.
Rambi and Enguarde appear in the game. Donkey Kong can turn into Rambi the Rhino in Jungle Japes. He can batter into objects and immediately kill any enemy. Lanky Kong can turn into Enguarde the Swordfish in Gloomy Galleon. He can swim at high speeds, leap out of the water and strike with his bill.
The game's main villain is the Kong's arch-enemy, King K. Rool, who tries to destroy DK Isle. The level's bosses are Army Dillo (a heavily-armoured armadillo who is the boss of Jungle Japes and Crystal Caves), Dogadon (a giant dragonfly who is the boss of Angry Aztec and Fungi Forest), Mad Jack (a gigantic jack-in-the-box who is the boss of Frantic Factory), Pufftoss (a large Blowfish who is the boss of Gloomy Galleon), King Kut-Out (a cardboard cut-out of K. Rool who is operated by two Kritters and is the boss of Creepy Castle), and the final boss, King K. Rool (in a boxing match where each Kong must fight). The game's secondary antagonist is a mine-cart Kremling, Krash, who is not actually a boss but operates mines throughout Jungle Japes, Fungi Forest and Creepy Castle.
Development and Audio 
The music for the game was composed by Grant Kirkhope, who was asked to help at the beginning of the project. The intro cut scene of the game is a music video that features a full-length song with vocals, entitled the "DK Rap" which was written by Kirkhope and was performed by George Andreas and Chris Sutherland. The song was criticized by many (EGM, Error Macro), and the line "His coconut gun can fire in spurts. If he shoots ya, it's gonna hurt!" was named the fourth worst game line ever in the January 2002 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly.
The rap also features the line "this Kong's one hell of a guy" (referring to Chunky Kong), which as an E-rated game, may have caused offence in North America where "hell" is considered a profane explicative. "Hell" as an intensifier is not considered offensive in Great Britain (which is where Rare is located), but a remixed version of the "DK Rap" was considered necessary in Super Smash Bros. Melee as part of the Kongo Jungle stage, in which the word was replaced with "heck". This version was also one of the selectable songs in Donkey Konga, but only has the parts of the first three characters. The remixed version heard in Melee was also in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The song is performed by James W. Norwood, Jr., in Melee, who used several different voices and effects for the remix in that game. There was also a scrapped level from another Rare platformer Banjo-Kazooie where it was known as "Fungus Forest". It was later made for Donkey Kong 64, under the slightly altered level name "Fungi Forest" and used the same music.
|Metacritic||90 of 100|
|Electronic Gaming Monthly||8.37 of 10|
|Famitsu||33 of 40|
|GamePro||5 of 5|
|GameSpot||9.0 of 10|
|IGN||9.0 of 10|
|Nintendo Power||8.6 of 10|
Donkey Kong 64 was released to highly positive reviews. Review scores range from 80% to 100%, with an average of 88% on review aggregate site GameRankings. The most commonly cited issue was the lackluster multiplayer mode and unwarranted tediousness and difficulty of some parts. GameSpot claimed "it lacks enough 'wow factor' to exert the revolutionary influence that Donkey Kong Country had" and IGN reports that while it is "not the leap and bound that Donkey Kong Country was for Super NES, [it] is still an excellent platformer all the same".
- Nintendo Power Award for 1999's overall game of the year
- E3 1999 Game Critics Awards: Best Platformer
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