Donkey Kong 64
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|Donkey Kong 64|
North American Nintendo 64 box art
|Release date(s)||Nintendo 64
Donkey Kong 64 (Japanese: ドンキーコング64 Hepburn: Donkī Kongu Rokujūyon?), is a 1999 platforming video game developed by Rare and published by Nintendo 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 6 December and Japan on 10 December of the same year. The game is a follow-up to the Donkey Kong Country trilogy on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, with many levels containing elements from those games, such as the mine carts and the bonus stages. It was originally planned to be titled Donkey Kong Country 64. 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 three Nintendo 64 games to require the Expansion Pak (the others being The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Perfect Dark), which provides 4 MB more RAM for enhanced graphics and more expansive environments, as well as to fix a game-breaking bug. The game was well received by critics upon release, and went on to become a Player's Choice title. For over eight years, Donkey Kong 64 was not made available on Nintendo's Virtual Console service, despite the fact that Nintendo retained full rights to the game as their intellectual property. However on April 1, 2015, it was announced the game would be released on the Wii U Virtual Console on April 16, 2015 in North America and after the Nintendo Direct presentation in Japan and Europe. The game has been re-released as is on the Virtual Console, including the original unlockable arcade version of Donkey Kong intact as well as retaining all references to Rare, including their game Jetpac.
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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 characters, each with unique abilities and upgrades. 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. They are each necessary to defeat character-specific bosses in each level. Each feature length 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.
Each playable Kong has several different collectibles within the game. There are five Golden Bananas per Kong in every level that only that specific character can get. In every level, each Kong delivers a color-appropriate blueprint to Snide. The Golden Bananas are used as payment to open the entrance to every new level. Each character can also find 100 color-appropriate bananas per level through single bananas, bunches, or balloons. The bananas are necessary to unlock boss fights, which drop keys that open the cage of K.Lumsy who unlocks new levels to be completed. Another collectible is character-specific coloured 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. Other items to be collected are ammunition for guns, orange grenades(which are usable as weapons), crystal coconuts used to fuel special abilities, film for taking banana fairy pictures, and headphones scattered in each level to restore the instruments' powers.
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 a Golden Banana, and second for the Nintendo Coin).
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.
The basic arenas resemble the world structure of the single-player game's levels. Additionally, players have access to the weapons and attacks the playable characters have in the main game, though none of the special abilities are available for use. Both Free-for-All and team settings are available for most game modes.
The special arena is a duplicate of the Kremling fighting ring from the main game. In contrast to the basic arena, players are solely tasked with defeating one another. Players only have access to their melee attacks, though power-ups not seen in the main game are available for players to pick up.
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King K. Rool wants to destroy DK Isles with a large laser called the Blast-O-Matic (as he thinks if he can't have DK Isles, nobody can), but it malfunctions after a crash that puts his floating, mechanical island face-to-face with DK Isles. To buy some time while the weapon is repaired, he captures Donkey Kong's friends and locks them up, and then steals Donkey Kong's precious hoard of Golden Bananas. Donkey Kong discovers a huge ex-member of K. Rool's army named K. Lumsy, who promises to help Donkey Kong if he is freed from the prison cell K. Rool has locked him in. To save K. Lumsy, Donkey Kong and his friends must defeat the leaders of K. Rool's army, one at a time, by proceeding through the worlds of DK Isles and K. Rool's floating island. By defeating these leaders, the Kongs are rewarded with keys to K. Lumsy's cage, and in return, K. Lumsy opens more levels for the Kongs. The final level is an assault on the Blast-O-Matic, and once the Kongs are successful, King K. Rool attempts to flee. However, the newly freed K. Lumsy knocks K. Rool's escape plane out of the sky, leaving him at the mercy of the Kongs. The final battle takes place in the form of a five-round boxing match between King K. Rool and each of the Kongs. The game concludes with two of Donkey Kong's non-playable friends, Candy Kong and Funky Kong, tricking K. Rool, and sending him away from DK Isles for good.
There are five primary playable characters in the game. The game starts off with Donkey Kong, the titular character, who is a large Mountain Gorilla that wears a red monogrammed necktie. As the game progresses, the player unlocks additional players through the story. 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. Lanky Kong, a newcomer in the Donkey Kong series, is a Sumatran orangutan whose long arms allow him to handstand, also able to inflate himself to float. 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. Chunky Kong, the older brother of Kiddy Kong, is a strong yet cowardly Eastern lowland gorilla.
Other characters include Cranky Kong, Donkey Kong's father and the original Donkey Kong, who sells the Kongs various new moves via his potions; Funky Kong, who sells them guns; N. Snide, a 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. Donkey Kong can turn into Rambi the Rhino. He can batter into objects and immediately kill any enemy. Lanky Kong can turn into Enguarde the Swordfish. He can swim at high speeds, leap out of the water and strike with his bill.
The game's primary villain is the Kongs' 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 dragon-fly 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 operates mines throughout Jungle Japes and Fungi Forest.
Donkey Kong 64 was originally developed in 1997 by Rare, in conjunction with Nintendo, with the title Ultra Donkey Kong, exclusively as a 64DD disk for the Nintendo 64, originally expected for delivery by the end of 1998. A demonstration cartridge was produced, which is said to bear some differences to the production release.
The music for the game was composed by Grant Kirkhope. 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 criticised by 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 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.
The rap contains the word "hell", which is considered a profane expletive in North America even though the game is rated E. "Hell" as an intensifier is not considered offensive in the United Kingdom (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 is one of the selectable songs in Donkey Konga, but only has the parts of the first three characters. The remixed version heard in Melee is in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. The song is performed by James W. Norwood, Jr., in Melee, who uses several different voices and effects for the remix in that game. The original line remains intact in the Virtual Console release.
There was a disincluded level originating from another Rare platformer Banjo-Kazooie where it was known as "Fungus Forest". It was later included in Donkey Kong 64, under the slightly altered level name "Fungi Forest" and uses the same music.
According to Chris Marlow, a programmer at Rare at the time, the 4 MB version had an unknown bug that was only fixed by the Expansion Pak. As a result Rare had to include the Expansion Pak with the game for free, resulting in "costing them a fortune".
Donkey Kong 64 received critical acclaim, with an average of 86.74% on review aggregate site GameRankings. The most commonly cited issue was the lackluster multiplayer mode and unwarranted tedium and difficulty of some parts. GameSpot claimed "it lacks enough 'wow factor' to exert the revolutionary influence that Donkey Kong Country had", also saying that "those who obtain perverse pleasure from collecting every last coin and item in this type of game" would love it, while "those who don't will be frustrated". 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", adding that "it's DK64's length that really sets it apart from any other competition in the genre". GamePro remarked "it's one of those Rare games that makes you remember why you liked video games so much in the first place."
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