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Donkey Kong Country (SNES) artwork

Donkey Kong Country (SNES) review

"I've never been the number one fan of the SNES and in comparison with its Sega counterpart I find it quite inferior when it comes to the actual quality of the games themselves. Don't get me wrong though, the SNES sure did have a few shiners but it lacked enough of them to be honest. That's just my opinion and I hope I don't get a pile of e-mails from Nintendo butt bangers but it is the sad sad truth. "

I've never been the number one fan of the SNES and in comparison with its Sega counterpart I find it quite inferior when it comes to the actual quality of the games themselves. Don't get me wrong though, the SNES sure did have a few shiners but it lacked enough of them to be honest. That's just my opinion and I hope I don't get a pile of e-mails from Nintendo butt bangers but it is the sad sad truth.

On a lighter note though, Donkey Kong Country was one of those shiners that I mentioned above. It was a quirky platform game taking the general idea of Super Mario World, blending it with its own qualities plus some revolutionary graphics creating a top notch platform game that every gamer should enjoy. Released in 1994 it was probably the savior of the SNES and stayed in hearts of obsessive fan boys and general gamers alike. Granted it wasn't perfect, nor was it original but it has that ''classic'' feeling when you play it nowadays and I, for one couldn't get enough of it. Nintendo took the antagonist ape of the archaic arcade game entitled ''Donkey Kong'' and placed the him in a world of his own, complete with a sidekick and a host of new friends and enemies creating a new game series that would fail at the second attempt.

But lets not go into the ''second attempt'' just yet. Donkey Kong starts off in not one of best moods when he discovers that his stash of bananas have been snatched by King K. Rool, the leader of the Kremlings, an army of crocodiles and such. They also kidnap Donkey's best pal Diddy Kong and lock him in a barrel. I don't know why! I never knew why and I will probably never find out but I guess Donkey has got a role-reversal and off Donkey goes to bring back his pile of bananas from the clutches of the evil tyrant. I guess it's time for another generic platform game! YAY!

The game starts with a map similarly laid out to the one seen in the Mario games showing you the entire world and a specific place in the world you currently sit in, showing you all levels you must conquer, represented by a chattering croc symbol. You begin in a jungle, alone. If you find a banana, collect it! Bananas are just like Mario Coins, collect 100 and get an extra life. As you move forward an array of enemies will attack, ranging from crocodiles to vultures. To kill a bad guy you can either jump on his head, do a forward roll into him or pick up a carefully laid barrel and chuck it at him. As you continue through the level you will find a barrel with DK plastered over it. Once you've smashed it to splinters out comes Diddy Kong, your younger sidekick, a cute lil fella wearing a red cap and t-shirt that's too small for him.

Diddy will proceed to follow you and you can operate a tag team and switch from Donkey to Diddy during play at anytime. The two characters play pretty much exactly the same but there are a few minor differences between the two that any player should take note. Donkey is slow yet strong, able to take down bigger enemies than Diddy but is less agile than the miniature monkey. Diddy is obviously Donkeys contrast, where he possesses more athletic attributes, jumping higher and further but possessing less strength. A classic contrast, as you can see. Having a partner will also give you an extra hit during the game. If one of your apes gets iced then the one being controlled will bite the dust temporarily until his partner rescues him again.

The thing that bothered me from the start was the awkward and seemingly stiff controls. The layout of the SNES controller was a joke to begin with but this games awkward control really wished Nintendo had picked a simplistic design for the controller. Occasionally, during the game you'll jerk too far forward or you'll jump over a pit and realizes youíve not jumped far enough, or perhaps the most annoying is when you do a roll you'll not go far enough and you will uncurl too early thus get hit by the upcoming enemy. The only major thing that knocked the score of this game down from perfection I'm afraid. The awkward control scheme is one of DKCs major flaws.

The variety of levels in Donkey Kong Country is your usual platform concepts. Jungle, ice capped mountains, mechanical factories, dreary caves and underwater paradises. These are usual ideas seen in the earliest Mario games and the Sonic series, fitting in well enough in the platform gallery. One interesting and annoying addition is the mine cart levels where you are stuck in a runaway mine cart; avoiding gaps in the track, joy riding Kremlings and barriers. An idea that others and I found seemingly frustrating. A new concept in DKC is the barrel levels, which I'm sure we all love to hate! Donkey jumps into a barrel and, like a cannon is thrown upwards into another barrel, ala Oil Ocean Zone in Sonic 2. These levels are tedious and annoying due to their lack of control and also their inaccuracy and difficulty. Sometimes you are blasted away too high or you can get your timing wrong and miss the barrel completely, falling into the platformer bottomless pit.

One interesting feature taken from Mario World is the ability to ride an animal, in a Yoshi like way. Animal friends if they find their helpless comrades trapped in a crate can assist donkey or Diddy. The cast of animals includes Rambi, a rhino who can break the walls down and use that horn of his to give any bad guy a new butt hole. Enguarde the swordfish, the only character who can tackle underwater enemies, using is pointed blade to give underwater nasties a friendly poke. The other creatures are more skilled based. Expresso the ostrich moves at breakneck speed, Winky the frog can jump very high and finally Squawks the parrot holds a lamp, which lights up dark caves for you. The only problem with this feature is that it is quite rare to come across an animal crate and most animalsí only feature twice throughout the entire game. I, for one would have liked to see more animal action. Each animal has his/her own bonus stage as well, where you control him/her and collect hundreds of gold pieces, which are seemingly all over the stage. When you get 100 you get an extra life and so on.

Of course Donkey Kong Country has a rich variety of enemies to keep you challenged and alert. The majority of these guys consist of Kremlings, those crocodiles that annoy you in so many ways. Kremlings can either amble towards you or jump around like morons. Other Kremlings have been at the steroids and are bigger, muscular and particularly anti-Diddy. The Klumps or Krush's are bigger crocs who need the whole load of Donkey Kong on them to finish them off. Diddy is such a pimpsqeak that he won't harm them with any physical contact, although finding and throwing a barrel will seem to work easily enough.

Vultures, that either fly or throw/spit nuts at you are common and also smaller crocs with huge jaws that come at you like crawling bear traps and seemingly invincible rock crocs seen in the Stop n Go station are a bit more rare yet very irritating to say the least. Underwater nasties include the creatures you would commonly expect; sharks, jellyfish and clams are a few of the deep-sea dangers, posing a bigger threat than landward bad guys because they can't be defeated without an assist from Enguarde the swordfish.

No platform game would be complete without the inclusion of bosses. Itís just a shame that the bosses on DKC are slightly repetitive and a bit on the dull side. The first reason for that is that they are all oversized common enemies, for example you have Very Gnawty and Really Gnawty, oversized versions of Gnawties, small beaver like animals that are common enemies in the game. Also, Necky, the giant vulture has aspects of the normal vultures as he pukes peanuts at you, and like the Gnawites he is also repeated later on in game. Other bosses like Dumb Drum are a bit more original but still lack any real prowess. A giant metal drum with a toxic logo on it isn't my idea of a top quality boss. The only truly original boss is the final one, King K. Rool, an overweight crocodile that you battle on a galleon. He is really the only boss in the game that doesnít directly copy form other miniature bad guys. This was a bit of a letdown here; you would have thought Nintendo would have at least tried.

The graphics are outstanding, for its time and I'm sure that back in 1994 every gamer in the world was blown away by Rare's use of digitized sprites. All of the characters look superb and have terrific animation, the Kongís look amazing and Donkey and Diddy were probably the most animated characters seen on a console. The jungle backgrounds are lushly drawn and the other ones are just as amazing. The enemies were the only disappointment here, mainly because of Rareís relying too much on palette swaps, where they use the same character, change his colors and use him as another character, usually the height of laziness but DKC relied on it so much it was quite shocking, especially after the blow away you get after your eye first clapped on these ''new'' graphics. The bosses looked great on the other hand, full of lust detail smooth animation, they look absolutely fantastic, and too bad they sucked though.

Another fine addition to DKCs merits was the tunes and sound effects. First of all the music was brilliant and secondly the quality was top notch. Some of the tunes are great but are forgetful and don't have the overall effect that other games had like Marion or Sonic for example. The revamped Donkey Kong theme song is something that you will remember however. Other tunes are not too bad at all, the map theme, the bonus level theme and in particular the boss theme are some of the better tunes in the bunch. You'll find them pretty good but not completely mind-blowing. The sound effects are something else, I guarantee you will never forget the monkey noises the kings make, especially the noises Donkey and Diddy do when they switch around. Other monkey noises sound really authentic and are some of the impressive areas in the sound department, although the other sound effects are your bargain basement platform sounds.

Donkey Kong Country may not be the greatest platform game ever but it is a long shot away from being the worst one. The game is fun, the concept is funny and the huge game length makes it a long lasting experience. The graphics are brilliant and are possibly some of the best on the SNES no doubt. There are few flaws in the game, mainly being the stiff controls, lack of animal assists and dull repetitive bosses but however it is worth checking it out and a gaming experience you shouldn't miss out on. Rare kind of lost it after this as DKC2 and 3 were no way as good as this one but DKC still remains one of the better Nintendo games and the pick of the litter in the SNES game library.

Rating: 8/10

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Community review by goldenvortex (May 24, 2004)

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