The final article in Lookin’ Back’s ‘Nintendo Month’ features one of Rare’s best known games.
Now, everyone who knows anything about gaming will have heard of the classic Nintendo game Donkey Kong. When it was decided that Donkey Kong was going to appear on the SNES, a company called Rare were given the job of making the game.
And so, Rare set to work on making Donkey Kong Country, a platform game which saw you play the role of Donkey Kong and his little buddy, Diddy Kong. In the story of the game, DK’s banana hoard has been stolen by the Kremlings and you have to go and recover it.
The first thing that stuck people about the game was the graphics. Rare were trying out some new technology and Donkey Kong Country was made with the charcters built around 3D-looking meshes. It made for a beautiful looking game which looked like it shouldn’t be able to run on the SNES. But run it did. Rare redesigned the Donkey Kong character, and that look is still used by Nintendo to this day.
As well as Diddy Kong, several other members of the extended Kong family were introduced. There was Funky Kong, who allowed you to travel between levels more quickly, Candy Kong who acted as a save point, and Cranky Kong, who gave hints and was supposed to be the Donkey Kong from the original game.
There were around 40 levels, and the levels ranged from standard platforming, to mine cart obstacles courses and swimming levels. And there was a selection of animals you could mount to do different things, from opening up secret areas to moving across levels faster.
Not only was there the fantastic graphics, but Donkey Kong Country also had one of the best soundtracks of it’s era, with again a lot of variety and music that really went with the environments and added a bit of atmosphere to the game.
The game displayed Rare’s trademark sense of humour, with the funny intro which had Cranky tapping his foot and listening to some old style music on a stereogram, only for Donkey and Diddy to knock him off his platform, which was designed to look like a 3D version of the platforms from the original Donkey Kong. They then proceed to have a dance until Cranky blows up their boombox with a barrell of TNT.
Donkey Kong Country did see 2 re-releases, for the Game Boy Color and the Game Boy Advance. The Color version had a couple of extra levels and a remade version of an existing level. The Advance version was the original game, but with added mini games and multiplayer modes.
The original was a big success, going on to sell 8 million copies on the SNES. And the game still looks good for it’s age. Although it does seem very simplistic by today’s standards, in it’s day it was a well designed, great looking game and deserved the praise it got, and was possibly Rare’s finest SNES moment.