Donkey Kong Land
|Donkey Kong Land|
North American box art
Donkey Kong Land is a platform video game for the Game Boy developed by Rare and published by Nintendo. It was first released in June 1995 and later for the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console in 2014. The game is the portable spin-off of the original title, Donkey Kong Country for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which spawned its own series alongside the main series. Donkey Kong Land was enhanced for the Super Game Boy and was packaged with a "banana yellow" cartridge which was later used for its sequels. Many of the games backgrounds elements, character models, and sound effects were directly ported from the Super NES version onto the Game Boy, retaining the same style as the original. Despite sharing common level themes, the level design and story for each game are completely different.
In the instruction booklet of the game, it is explained that Donkey Kong Land's story takes place directly after the events in Donkey Kong Country. Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, and Cranky Kong are shown reflecting on their previous adventure. Out of jealousy, Cranky Kong scolds Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong about the success of Donkey Kong Country, implying that it only did so well because of the elaborate graphics and sound on the Super NES. Irritated, Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong explain they earned their success because of the fun gameplay and not just the graphics and sound.
Mischievously, Cranky teases the Kongs that they could not replicate the success of their past game on an 8-bit system, causing Donkey Kong and Diddy to accept his challenge. His plan to fool them complete, Cranky explains that by the following day, he will have called King K. Rool and his Kremlings to steal Donkey Kong's bananas and scatter them across Donkey Kong Island. Determined to prove Cranky wrong, Donkey and Diddy head out to defeat K. Rool and the Kremlings.
Donkey Kong Land is a 2-D side-scrolling platform game, borrowing many of the mechanics established in Donkey Kong Country. However, because of hardware limitations of the portable console, several gameplay mechanics were changed to better suit the Game Boy. Similar to its console iteration, the A button is used to jump and swim and the B button is used to roll and grab barrels. The Select Button allows the player to switch control between Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. However, only one Kong can be displayed on the screen at a time, while the second one teleports out when the selected or when one Kong is hit by an enemy. Because of the Game Boy's smaller screen, the HUD, which is typically on-screen at all times, is shown only when an item is collected or a Kong takes a hit to reduce clutter onscreen.
Many of the gameplay mechanics are retained from Donkey Kong Country, such as KONG letters, animal buddies, bonus rooms, and collecting bananas to gain extra lives. There are four worlds in Donkey Kong Land, each containing seven levels, excluding the first world, which has a total of nine levels. Differing from their SNES counterparts, levels in Donkey Kong Land have only one or two bonus levels within stages. The worlds, and the levels within them, are all unique to Donkey Kong Land, but follow similar level archetypes presented in the original Donkey Kong Country. Due to the Game Boy's hardware limitations, the names of the levels can only be found in the instruction booklet.
Although many enemies return from Donkey Kong Country, some enemies found are completely original to Donkey Kong Land, such as Hogwash, Nemo, Fangfish and Hardhat. Additionally, all four of the game's bosses are completely original to Donkey Kong Land.
Super Game Boy
In 1994, Nintendo released an add-on to the Super NES called the Super Game Boy. This expansion allows Game Boy cartridges to be played on a television using the Super NES Control Deck. Donkey Kong Land is one of the few Game Boy games that allows the Super Game Boy to expand the cartridge's visuals and audio effects. Exclusive to Donkey Kong Land, the Super Game Boy surrounds the game in a jungle-themed border.
Donkey Kong Land has received generally positive reviews by critics. Victor Lucas of The Electric Playground gave it a 9 out of 10, praising the game's music and controls but noting graphic problems on the Game Boy. On release, Famitsū scored the game a 24 out of 40. GamePro summarized that "Regardless of reductions in scope and cutbacks on technical aspects, DKL has excellent characters sprites that really come alive, huge levels, and a tough challenge that means you won't complete this cart in one sitting." They added that it should be played with the Super Game Boy since "the green-and-white Game Boy monitor just doesn't do this game justice."
Donkey Kong Land spawned two sequels upon its release, replicating the trilogy of games on the Super NES. Following structure of the trilogy, Donkey Kong Land 2 featured Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong while Donkey Kong Land III featured Dixie Kong and Kiddy Kong. However, Donkey Kong Land III was the only game of the trilogy to have a Game Boy Color remake exclusive to Japan. Most of the game's music and sound effects were reused in the Game Boy Color remake of Donkey Kong Country and its sequels.
On 2 April 2014, Donkey Kong Land was released for the Japanese 3DS Virtual Console service via the 3DS eShop as one of the first Donkey Kong titles made by Rare since the Donkey Kong Country titles were removed from the Wii Shop Channel in November 2012. Its two sequels, Donkey Kong Land 2 and Donkey Kong Land III, were released on the Japanese 3DS Virtual Console on 16 April 2014, and 17 May 2014 as well. The EU 3DS re-release came to the eShop on 16 October 2014. It was released in North America on February 26, 2015, alongside the Donkey Kong Country trilogy and the other two Donkey Kong Land games.
- Lucas, Victor (30 August 1995). "Donkey Kong Land". The Electric Playground. Archived from the original on 6 August 1997. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
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- "Editor's Choice Awards 1995". GamePro. No. 89. IDG. February 1996. p. 26.