Donkey Kong Country
|Donkey Kong Country|
North American SNES box art
|Series||Donkey Kong Country,
Donkey Kong Country is a 1994 platforming video game developed by Rare and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was first released on November 21, 1994 in North America, on November 24, 1994 in Europe, and on November 26, 1994 in Japan with under the name Super Donkey Kong (Japanese: スーパードンキーコング Hepburn: Sūpā Donkī Kongu?). Donkey Kong Country is the first Donkey Kong game that was not produced or directed by Shigeru Miyamoto, the character's original creator. It was directed 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 more than nine million copies were sold worldwide, making it the second-best-selling SNES 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 Wii's Virtual Console on February 19, 2007. It was released on Wii U's Virtual Console on October 16, 2014, in Europe with the sequels to be released in October 23, 2014 and October 30, 2014, respectively. The game and its sequels were taken off the Wii Virtual Console without notice on November 16, 2012, in the United States, and November 25, 2012, in Europe, until they came back on the Wii Virtual Console in Europe on October 30, 2014 and in Japan on November 26, 2014.
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 Alias and SGI technology. The Stampers expressed interest in making a game based on Donkey Kong and were given Nintendo's permission.
The Donkey Kong character was 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.
Rare created Diddy Kong's model with the intent that it be their update of Donkey Kong Jr. Nintendo felt that the model was too great a departure from Donkey Kong Jr.'s original look, and insisted that Rare either rework it to match Donkey Kong Jr.'s original appearance or present it as a new character entirely.
To develop Donkey Kong's movements in the game, Rare spent hours at a zoo observing and videotaping real gorillas. However, they found that on the rare occasions when the gorillas moved, their movements were "completely unsuitable for a fast-paced videogame", and so Donkey Kong's animations were instead loosely based on how a horse moves.
Donkey Kong Country 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 earlier 1993 Finnish game Stardust for Amiga and later in 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).
When Rare presented the first playable version of the game to Nintendo, Nintendo directed them to significantly reduce the difficulty, as they wanted the game to appeal to a broad audience and felt that the game's numerous secrets would provide sufficient challenge to hardcore gamers. At this point Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto, though otherwise uninvolved with the project, also made some last-minute suggestions which were incorporated into the final game, such as Donkey Kong's hand slap move.
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 soundtrack which was released on CD under the title DK Jamz. Composers David Wise, Eveline Fischer, Robin Beanland, collaborated on the soundtrack. 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 SNES's 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, and GamePro, which declared in their review that "DKC has all the elements of a classic: outstanding graphics, involving game play, and lots of hidden stuff!" The game would go on to eventually sell 9 million copies. Later, the game was released as a pack-in game in the SNES "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%.
The game was awarded best graphic achievement at the 1994 Consumer Electronics Show by GamePro. It won several awards from Electronic Gaming Monthly in their 1994 video game awards, including Best SNES Game, Best Animation, Best Game Duo and Game of the Year. It was the only video game to be listed in Time's top ten "Best Products" of 1994. However, it was also considered by the magazine to be one of the Top 10 Most Over-rated 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 over-rated games of all time. Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto notably criticised the game, calling its gameplay mediocre. However, he has since criticised 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.
Donkey Kong Country was re-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. In 2014, the series was re-released for the Wii U Virtual Console. In Europe Donkey Kong Country was released on the Wii U Virtual Console on October 16, 2014, with the two sequels being released on October 23 and October 30, respectively. On November 26 the same year, the three games were released in Japan. On February 26, 2015, the first three Donkey Kong Country games as well as the three Donkey Kong Land games was released although the Wii Virtual Console versions of the three former games was still delisted.
- 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 having been bought by Microsoft)
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
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- Official website at the Internet Archive
- Official Super Donkey Kong website (Super Famicom) (Japanese)
- Official Donkey Kong 2001 website (Japanese)
- Official Super Donkey Kong website (Game Boy Advance) (Japanese)
- Official Nintendo Wii Virtual Console Minisite (Japanese)
- Official Nintendo Wii U eshop Minisite (Japanese)
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