Donkey Kong Country
|Donkey Kong Country|
North American cover art
Eveline Fischer Novakovic
|Release date(s)||SNES/Super Famicom
Donkey Kong Country is a platform video game developed by Rare that was originally published for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was first released on November 21, 1994, in North America and on November 24, 1994, in Europe. Donkey Kong Country was the first Donkey Kong game that was not produced or directed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the character's original creator. It was produced by Tim Stamper instead, although Miyamoto was still involved with the project.
Following an intense marketing campaign, Donkey Kong Country received very high critical praise and sold over nine million copies worldwide, making it the second best-selling Super Nintendo game. The game was later re-released for the Game Boy Color on November 4, 2000, the Game Boy Advance on June 9, 2003, and the Virtual Console on February 19, 2007. The game, along with its sequels, were taken off the Virtual Console on November 16, 2012, in the United States without notice, and November 25, 2012, in Europe.
Donkey Kong Country is a platform game where players must complete forty different side-scrolling levels (forty-one in the Game Boy Color version) and recover the Kongs' banana hoard, which has been stolen by the Kremlings. Each level is uniquely themed and consists of varying tasks such as swimming, riding in mine carts, launching out of barrel cannons, or swinging from vine to vine. Players lose a life if they get hit by any enemy or fall off the screen. To defeat an enemy, players can either execute a roll, jump or groundslam (a move reserved only for Donkey Kong). However, some enemies cannot be taken down like this, so the player must throw a barrel or use the assistance of an animal. Enemies vary in difficulty, usually becoming tougher to take down as the game progresses. When the player has lost all their lives, the game is over. However, the player can gain additional lives by collecting items scattered throughout the levels, including bananas; golden letters that spell out K–O–N–G; extra life balloons; and golden animal tokens that lead to bonus levels. There are also many secret passages that can lead to bonus games where the player can earn additional lives or other items.
Players of Donkey Kong Country control one of two characters: Donkey Kong or his nephew Diddy. The player can switch between characters if they are both on the screen. Donkey is the larger and stronger of the two, and can defeat enemies more easily. Diddy is faster and more agile, but not as powerful. In several levels, players can gain assistance from various animals, who are found by breaking open crates. These helpers include Rambi the Rhino, Expresso the Ostrich, Enguarde the Swordfish, Winky the Frog, and Squawks the Parrot. Each animal can be found in an appropriately themed level: for example, Enguarde can only be found underwater, and Squawks will be found in caves. Some animals can also give players access to bonus games.
The game offers single-player and multiplayer game modes. Multiplayer allows two players to play alternatively in one of two different modes: the competitive "Contest" mode or the cooperative "Team" mode. In Contest mode, each player controls a different set of Kongs and take turns playing each level as quickly as possible; the objective is to complete the most levels in the fastest time. In Team mode, each player takes the role of one of the two Kongs and play as a tag team: the active player's Kong will control the progression of the two players while the other player is dormant; the other player takes control if the active player loses his Kong from damage or if the active decides to switch out.
Donkey Kong Country uses a series of map screens to track the players' progress. Between each level, players control their character on the map screen, navigating to the next level they want to play. Each level on the map is marked with an icon: unfinished levels are marked by Kremlings (the game's main enemy), while friendly areas are marked by members of the Kong family. Every individual world map screen has one boss enemy at the end of the course, which must be defeated to travel back to the main map screen of the whole island. It is possible to access previous world maps without defeating the boss by finding Funky Kong and borrowing his barrel plane. Players use this ability to select the world from the main screen, then the level within it. During play the game interface hides most game-related information, such as the number of bananas, letters, and animal tokens collected, as well as the number of lives remaining. When an item is collected, the relevant information briefly appears on the screen.
In Donkey Kong Country, Donkey Kong, together with his nephew and sidekick Diddy Kong, must recover his stolen hoard of bananas from King K. Rool and the Kremlings. Upon investigating the empty "Kong's Banana Hoard", located directly underneath his home in the Kongo Jungle, Donkey Kong embarks on an adventure throughout his native Donkey Kong Island. While collecting bananas on the island's vastly different regions, Donkey Kong must defeat many enemies, including the reptilian Kremlings, and other hazardous creatures native to the island. Aiding him in his quest are some of the other Kongs: Diddy accompanies Donkey Kong on his quest, Cranky provides hints (and comic relief), Candy operates the island's save points, and Funky offers a means of transportation around the island. Also assisting Donkey Kong at times are various 'animal buddies' (Rambi the rhino, Expresso the ostrich, Enguarde the swordfish, Winky the frog, and Squawks the parrot), each with their own unique abilities. After progressing through the island's different areas, Donkey Kong ultimately arrives at a pirate ship called Gangplank Galleon, where Donkey Kong's nemesis and the leader of the Kremlings, King K. Rool, awaits with Donkey Kong's Banana Hoard. Upon his defeat, the game ends with a final shot of Donkey Kong's Banana Hoard restored to its former glory, filled with bananas once again.
Before Donkey Kong Country's production, Rare's Chris and Tim Stamper programmed experiments with a Silicon Graphics workstation, with their initial focus centred on a boxing game. After impressing Nintendo with their progress, Genyo Takeda was dispatched to Japan to advise then-president of Nintendo Hiroshi Yamauchi. Following talks between Yamauchi and Rare, Nintendo acquired 49% of the company, which culminated in the production of a new title using the SGI technology. The Stampers expressed interest in making a game based on Donkey Kong and were given Nintendo's consent.
The Donkey Kong character was also redesigned with a distinct, three-dimensional physical appearance. While borrowing the red necktie introduced in 1994's Game Boy version of Donkey Kong, the character featured a new look that would become the standard that continues to be used in nearly all games featuring him. Until Microsoft's purchase of Rare in 2002, all Nintendo games featuring Donkey Kong (including Mario Kart 64, Super Smash Bros., and the Mario Party series) credited Rare for the use of their Donkey Kong model.
The game was revolutionary in that it was one of the first games for a mainstream home video game console to use pre-rendered 3D graphics. It was a technique that was also used in the 1993 Finnish game Stardust for Amiga and Rare's Killer Instinct. Many later 3D video games also used pre-rendered 3D together with fully 3D objects. Rare took significant financial risks in purchasing the expensive SGI equipment used to render the graphics. A new compression technique they developed in house allowed them to incorporate more detail and animation for each sprite for a given memory footprint than previously achieved on the SNES, which better captured the pre-rendered graphics. Both Nintendo and Rare refer to the technique for the creating the game's graphics as "ACM" (Advanced Computer Modeling).
As a part of Nintendo's marketing campaign, a 15-minute VHS tape titled Donkey Kong Country: Exposed was sent to subscribers of Nintendo Power magazine. Hosted by comedian Josh Wolf, the video shows a brief tour of Nintendo of America's headquarters in Redmond, Washington and footage from the game when it was in the final stages of development. Several game testers provide tips on how to access bonus levels and perform tricks throughout the game. Various interviews promote the level of graphical complexity as being revolutionary for game systems at that time. A segment at the end of the video reminds viewers that the game is available only on Nintendo's 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System console and not on rival 32-bit and CD-ROM based consoles (e.g., Sega 32X and Sega CD) that boasted superior processing power. In a "hidden" section at the end of the cassette, the host of the video opens a door and discovers that Nintendo of America testers are playing an early development version of the Killer Instinct arcade. A character resembling Chief Thunder is shown with notable differences.
Donkey Kong Country also had a popular soundtrack which was released on CD under the title DK Jamz. Composers Robin Beanland, Eveline Fischer and David Wise collaborated on this ensemble of jungle music. Released on March 1, 1995, DK Jamz consists of fifty tracks, of which tracks 24–48 are completely silent, and the remaining two tracks in the end are 'secret' bonus tracks not listed in the back of the disc cover. The soundtrack was also the focus of an OverClocked ReMix collaboration titled "Kong in Concert," later praised by Wise.
The soundtrack is known for its atmospheric music, mixing natural environmental sounds with prominent melodic and percussive accompaniment. It features a wide variety of different musical styles that attempt to be evocative of the environments they appear in. This varies with the differing areas of the game, and includes music from levels set in Africa-inspired jungles, caverns, oceanic reefs, frozen landscapes, and industrial factories. David Wise has stated that he wanted the music produced by the Super NES' SPC700 chip for the game to sound similar to the Korg Wavestation synthesizer.
|DK Jamz track listing|
All music composed by David Wise, except where noted.
Donkey Kong Country was very successful on release, receiving critical acclaim from high profile gaming magazines like Famicom Tsūshin which gave it a 9 out of 10 in their Reader Cross Review. The game would go on to eventually sell 9 million copies. Later, the game was released as a pack-in game in the Super Nintendo "Donkey Kong Set" (which contained the console, controller, connections and the game). This facilitated sales of over a million copies, making it a Player's Choice re-release title around 1998. At review aggregator GameRankings, the SNES version received an 89% score, the Game Boy Color version 90%, and the Game Boy Advance version 79%.
It won several awards from Electronic Gaming Monthly in their 1994 video game awards, including Best Super NES Game, Best Animation, Best Game Duo and Game of the Year. However, it was also considered by the magazine to be one of the Top 10 Most Overrated Games of All Time before their 200th issue anniversary in 2005. The game also made the #9 spot in GameSpy's 2003 list of the 25 most overrated games of all time. Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto notably criticized the game, calling its gameplay mediocre. However, he has since rebuked rumours that he disliked the game and expressed fondness for it. Despite this, it was also rated the 90th best game made on a Nintendo system in Nintendo Power's Top 200 Games list in 2006. It also received a Nintendo Power Award for Best Overall Game of 1994 and two Kids' Choice awards, one of each for Favorite Video Game of 1994 and 1995.
In 2000, a version of Donkey Kong Country was released for the Game Boy Color. The GBC version had a new stage in Chimp Caverns, "Necky Nutmare", as well as a revamped and longer Winky's Walkway. The GBC version had some of the music scrapped and replaced, often with music that originated in Donkey Kong Land. In 2003, another version of the game was released for the Game Boy Advance. This version had increased brightness, at the cost of contrast and colour saturation, to make the game easier to see on an unlit LCD. Both games had some new features, including new minigames, hidden pictures, and a Time Trial mode; additionally, the GBA version had multiplayer games. Both versions also had lower sound fidelity and a number of minor changes. Candy Kong no longer runs a save point, so players can save the game in any area.
The Super Nintendo version 1.1 was released on the Virtual Console for the Wii in Oceania on December 7, 2006, Europe on December 8, 2006, and North America on February 19, 2007. However, it was delisted from the Wii Shop Channel on November 25, 2012 in Europe and on November 16, 2012, in North America, along with its sequels.
- Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!
- Donkey Kong 64
- Donkey Kong Country Returns (Revival developed by Retro Studios due to Rare being bought by Microsoft)
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
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