Donkey Kong 64 (Nintendo 64) review
"Back in the day, Donkey Kong was content with kidnapping damsels and tossing barrels at plumbers. Thankfully, starting on the Super Nintendo console, he picked up on a new habit: Starring in exciting platform games. In truth, he was only playable in one of the three Donkey Kong Country games, but that's besides the point. What is important is that time has shown if you create a platform game in which the playable cast consists of monkeys, and the bad guy is a pirate, scientist, or boxer -- depen..."
Back in the day, Donkey Kong was content with kidnapping damsels and tossing barrels at plumbers. Thankfully, starting on the Super Nintendo console, he picked up on a new habit: Starring in exciting platform games. In truth, he was only playable in one of the three Donkey Kong Country games, but that's besides the point. What is important is that time has shown if you create a platform game in which the playable cast consists of monkeys, and the bad guy is a pirate, scientist, or boxer -- depending on how he feels on a particular day -- you're going to have a great game. This is a pattern which Rare has stuck with, and worked miracles.
The game modestly starts with Donkey Kong sitting in his tree house, when Squawks the parrot arrives and tells DK that he had better get his butt in gear. King K. Rool is at it again, with causing trouble, and this time he has gone as far as to capture Donkey's friends. So, he heads out -- alone -- to start his adventure. And after a short series of gameplay tutorials from Cranky, he'll be ready to go. If this is your first time playing, they'll be useful and even relatively fun. The Donkey Kong franchise translates amazingly well into 3D. Controls are easy to grasp, and very smooth.
Throughout the course of the game, you'll enter a variety of different worlds. These range from hot and dry desert areas where you'll be strolling through the inner tunnels of a pyramid, or the lush green forest areas, where you'll be bouncing off the top of a giant mushroom. These areas are huge, and fun to play through. And somewhere in them, are Donkey's friends locked away.
As early as the first level, you'll be able to find Diddy Kong, DK's best friend. In another level you'll be able to find Lanky, the Kong with spaghetti limbs and the brain the size of a pea. Somewhere in the game, you'll also be able to find Chunky, one mammoth of a monkey, and Tiny, the pint-sized female of the group. All of the Kongs play differently, and have different moves and abilities. To complete the game, you'll need to find them all.
In each level, you'll find 500 regular bananas, and 25 golden bananas. These are divided evenly amongst the Kongs. So, each Kong has plenty to do in every level. The goals range greatly. Some golden bananas are simply on a ledge or on a pedestal. Others involve you having to play a mini-game in a bonus barrel. The majority of them however, require you in some way or form, to make use of one of the skills you'll find in the game. Cranky Kong will teach you a variety of moves throughout the game. Diddy can learn to do charge attacks, Lanky can learn to inflate himself like a balloon, and Tiny can learn to shrink in size, for example. Funky also has a shop, where you can get shooters to launch pineapples, coconuts, and other fruits through the air. Candy Kong sells musical instruments, which will also come in handy.
The great thing, is that this all comes together nicely. It's not always as simple as "Shoot a switch, and grab the banana." Some goals will require you to play as multiple Kongs working together. For example, in the very first area, there's an area that you must use Diddy Kong's peanut blaster to reach. However, once in that area, both Tiny and Lanky Kong have golden bananas to get. This is a basic example, but things get really interesting at other points. A great example is in an underwater level, when you can use Lanky to transform into Enguarde, the Swordfish. Only Lanky as the swordfish will be able to change the water level -- however it's something that directly effects all of the other Kongs' ability to collect their golden bananas. A perfect mixture of simple and elegant goals make this game great.
Getting into levels requires that you have a certain number of golden bananas; to finish the game, you'll ultimately need at least one-hundred out of the two-hundred available. However, to clear a level, you'll need to collect regular bananas as well. In the levels you'll be able to find portals which lead to a separate room, with two warthogs on a weighing scale. You'll have to feed one of them enough bananas so that he weighs more than the second. This allows the second to reach the key of a humongous door. The number increases with each level you clear. However opening the door is only half the battle. You also have to walk through it, and defeat a boss!
Each boss has a different Kong that you must use to defeat it. And the tactics are always different, which ensures that the fights stay fun and exciting. The bosses range from giant fire-breathing dragons, to a gigantic jack in the box, to an armadillo equipped with an entire stock of army surplus material attached to his back (eloquently named Armydillo.) There are even a few more interesting bosses. One of which, which will not be spoiled, is very humorous. All of them, up until The final battle with K. Rool himself, are fun and enjoyable. For new players, some of them are even challenging enough to pose a threat, without being particularly frustrating. The bosses demonstrate great design and balance on Rare's part.
The game is thoroughly huge, and will take many hours to complete. Not only are there two-hundred golden bananas to collect, there are many other things to do as well. For example, there are battle arenas and hidden banana faeries which you can capture on film to unlock hidden features. For it's massive size -- which forced Rare to package the required expansion pack with the game -- Donkey Kong 64 holds a lasting appeal, and keeps you interested from beginning to end; possibly further. Who says that 100% is the maximum amount of completion a game can hold? Definitely not rare, who has yet to make a Donkey Kong game which maxes out at that! All-in-all, this is a classic Nintendo 64 game, that you need to own, if you don't already.
Community review by sayainprince (February 04, 2006)
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